SLC Traveler

Finding cheap Delta M-fares

If you are taking an international flight and are hoping to upgrade on Delta and save a few bucks you might be in the market for an M-fare. Delta makes it really hard to search for M-fares using flexible dates. I suggest using Google's ITA Matrix. Once you know the basics it isn't difficult, but I will warn you that it takes a bit more work than Delta's online tool.

Quick note: In order to upgrade an M, B or Y (full-price economy fares) you must not only book one of these classes but also verify that Delta has Z-fare inventory available. The best way I know to do this is with ExpertFlyer although it does require a paid subscription. If anybody knows another way to check

How to use ITA Matrix to find cheap M-fares
  1. Put in your origin and destination.
  2. Click on "Advanced Routing Codes" under destination. You will now have options under your origin and destination to put in advanced codes.
  3. In the advanced code field type (or copy and paste) starting with (and including) the slash: / airlines dl; f bc=m|bc=b|bc=y
  4. For dates you can either specify exact dates or tell it what month you plan to travel in and how long you would like to be gone for. You can even give it a range like 9-13 days.
  5. Change anything else if you want to. I do recommend that you "Only show flights and prices with available seats" if you are planning on flying this route. It is not necessary to check this if you are just doing price research.
  6. Click to Search.
  7. If you chose the calendar scroll over a day and you will see the cheapest trip length based on the day. Everything else is very intuitive here.
  8. If you need to change your query at all you can either tweak dates and lengths on the top left or click on "Modify search" on the top right. This will take you back to where you were but holds all of the information you already put in.
Quick note
Some people have asked me about this part in #3: "/ airlines dl; f bc=m|bc=b|bc=y" so I wanted to explain what we are doing here. The first part is obvious, we are setting this to only show Delta flights (it does still show flights where Delta is the codeshare partner). The semicolon gives us a break so we can put in a new command. f means "force" and bc means "booking class" - so f bc=m means "force booking class M." We added the same code for B and Y fares because they are the only economy fares which can be upgraded using miles or PMU's assuming there is some available Z-fare inventory.

Buying the ticket you want
A lot of people will tell you to go to a travel agent and I'm sure that works well. If you have some crazy schedule that you couldn't possibly book on Delta.com this might be a good option for you.

What I usually do is find the dates I want to fly and then go to Delta and use the same route, same date and find the exact fare that ITA Matrix previously quoted. It works perfect. I don't only do this on straightforward fares, either; I frequently use the Matrix to find (and subsequently book) open jaw flights and have also booked a double open jaw. using the matrix.

The only fares I've had a hard time pricing with the Matrix and trying to book on Delta are flights with more than five separate stopovers. Hopefully you're either smarter than me or more patient.

One-way M-fares
Delta's cheapest fares typically require a round-trip purchase. M-fares are generally about the same price whether you book the round-trip or book each direction as a separate trip. This gives you a lot more flexibility with finding the right flight and allows you to be a lot more creative with your itinerary. I suggest booking your return trip from a different city than you are visiting (check out Bangkok, Manila or Singapore, for instance) and take a discount carrier from your original destination to your return city. This gives you a chance to do a couple of days of sightseeing for only the price of a discount airline ticket (with Air Asia I recently flew from Bangkok into mainland China for $130 USD).