UGH: Delta Is Adding Surcharges To More Award Tickets

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Update: It looks like Delta has stopped charging these. Whether this was a “glitch” or just early implementation of a change that’s on the horizon remains to be seen.

Oh Delta, Delta, Delta, Delta. Delta doesn’t publish SkyMiles award pricing, and doesn’t officially publish what award flights are subjected to carrier imposed surcharges. However, it looks like something major has just changed.

Up until now, the only SkyMiles awards on Delta “metal” that have been subjected to carrier imposed surcharges have been those originating in Europe. US to Europe one-way awards haven’t been subjected to carrier imposed fees, and roundtrip US to Europe awards haven’t been subjected to these fees.

As reported by Point Me to the Plane, it looks like Delta has started adding carrier imposed surcharges to award tickets from the US to Europe, both in economy and business class. For example, here’s the calendar for nonstop flights from Seattle to Paris next summer in business class:

As you’ll see, the below Delta flight from Seattle to Paris comes with $173.60 in taxes & fees, while previously the fees totaled $5.60.

That means they’re charging an extra $168 in fees. Oddly that doesn’t even reflect the surcharges they’d impose on revenue tickets — those would total $478.

These fees are also being charged on roundtrip tickets from the US to Europe.

Like, can anyone make sense of why some flights are subjected to fees while others aren’t based on the below?

This is just plain bonkers. I’m not sure if the current pricing is their finished product, if this is all a glitch, or if they’re in the process of rolling out these new fees, but haven’t done so for all flights yet. I’ll reach out to Delta in hopes of getting some clarity, but who knows how much information they’ll share.

Regardless, the lack of communication here is infuriating. It’s one thing if this were an isolated incident, but this is far from the first time we’ve been in a situation where we weren’t sure if a change on Delta’s part was a glitch or not. The number of devaluations we’ve seen from Delta the past couple of years is so frustrating. We’re increasingly getting to the point where redeeming SkyMiles for one cent each towards the cost of a ticket is the best way to use the miles… and I guess that’s exactly what Delta wants.

What’s going on, Delta?!

  1. I think you’ve got the first two pictures wrong – they’re referring to Hyatt hotel bookings (cash vs points)

    (Unless I’m having cache issues, which, given the craptacular work PC I have, is possible)

  2. Just hung up with Delta SkyMiles. As usual the agents AND supervisors are 100% unaware. I spoke with two and both are almost certain it is a pricing glitch.
    I guess we shall see.
    If this is a new protocol Delta can go eff themselves.

  3. I think that is just a price glitch. From what I know, there is a law that prohibits airlines from imposing surcharges on flights originating from the US. The only fees they can claim are the airport fees. Anything else should be included in the ticket price and must be charged for the service. Ever wondered why they always charged fees on Europe-US tickets but not US-Europe ?? Definitely, they did not forget about it lol.

  4. Regardless of whether this is a pricing glitch or not, it reinforces the idea that it is becoming less and less reliable to book international, premium class flights with the miles of the big US three. An increasingly attractive strategy is to book premium cabins well in advance with cash at discounted prices and use miles for more mundane purposes like four tickets for the family during thanksgiving, or flights to a domestic wedding.

  5. @Geoff,
    if agents and supervisors are certain that it’s a glitch, did they have the ability to lower the carrier imposed surcharge for you? that would be a great test of their certainty.

  6. I know they have a setting where you can get a cash + points type booking. is that what is being shown with the 173+ fees?

  7. @ Ben — So glad to done with DL Diamond after this year’s requalification. Funny how things go in cycles — I was dumping DL several years ago for UA, and now I might be doing the opposite (but for LH status, not UA).

  8. I redeemed miles last week for flights MSP-LHR-MSP next summer and I paid USD184.16 in taxes and fees per ticket. Was that abnormal? I searched MSP-LHR-MSP for next year and every single day has a USD184.16 fee.

  9. @EM:

    Try redeeming a BA award ticket one way, SEA-LHR on,, or

    Then tell me how “there is a law that prohibits airlines from imposing surcharges on flights originating from the US”.

    PS: there is a law on that… in Brazil. And Hong Kong. Not the USA though.

  10. This glitch has happened before. I do not think it will stick. Delta in my opinion has done themselves in. Have you seen the prices of their premium cabin awards? Fuel surcharges or not… Delta SUCKS!! i mean REALLY SUCKS! Also as you can see there us no consumer trust in them. Everyone knows DL is going to screw them over the very second the market allows them to. there is no attempt at creating long term loyalty.

  11. Confirmed to be a bug:

    Hi everyone, wanted let you know that the surcharge that you saw for certain Europe Award Tickets earlier today was an error. Not to worry, as we took notice and the issue has been resolved. Happy Friday!

  12. I continue to laugh at everyone who still claims that somehow Delta is the best airline in the USA of the Big Three. The operational pluses of Delta have been met by United for some time now, and by American in some routes. But United’s loyalty program and miles are still vastly superior, more valuable, and the miles far more useable. American miles have become as useless as those with Delta, AmeriPesos and SkyPesos, anyone?

    Now Delta does this…and probably will try to tack on fuel charges and higher fees for its award tickets. It may be a glitch now (or so they will say when the negative press and social media attacks come) , but it is a certainty that it will Be Delta that does it first.

    So glad I don’t live by a Delta hub.

  13. More and More it is getting to the point that a new airline needs to arise and offer better business level competition. We are starting to see the end result of consolidation and it’s going to get even uglier.

  14. @Santastico

    Unsure how long its taking them to undo it, but that was the quote from a SkyMiles rep on FT. So i believe it should all be back to normal soon

  15. Somewhere there’s a Delta executive on a conference call where the following conversation is taking place: “Hang on a second there professor…we fixed the glitch. We try to avoid confrontation wherever possible. “

  16. Dear Delta,

    You really should rename your loyalty program “Enigma.”

    Delta: We’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied.



  17. On Delta I have a June CDG-SEA and a Sept SEA-CDG-RAK one way. Both booked at 70k miles. Getting anything long haul from SEA feels like a huge win. You can still find 3-5 cents per point on Delta. No different than others that rarely open saver space, just as arbitrary.

  18. Fees are definitely higher if you go one way originating outside the US versus doing RT originating in the US. I was doing one way searches in order to get a better idea of availability and noticed the trend.

  19. Hey Da Kine,
    Are you in SEA? From your name, I was thinking you might be looking at flights from HNL. Have you tried to booked HNL to Europe? Of course it is always finding first class from HNL to the mainland that is the hardest.

  20. @ Ryan – in Seattle and NYC, generally want to long haul out of one and into the other, which is why I am trying to like Delta, trying. I used to live in HI (hence the name) but was not a savvy traveler at the time. I have a nice United award in Asiana next year going the other way ogg-hnl-icn-bkk. I just track the Delta awards from as far out on schedule and they can show up, maybe you just get a separate ticket to west coast.

    Not directed at Ryan… Delta is a BUSINESS, not all these peoples charity; they are just more honest than the other programs in stating that award pricing is discretionary. I see little consistent pricing from those that claim to have an award chart.

    Feel like these whiners are someone that sat on 2mm Delta miles and watched them devalue, that is nobodys problem but their own… earn em and burn em.

    I have snagged 4 quality Delta (and Aeroflot) long hauls over two years for 75-85k points and negligible cash costs. Direct flights between major markets. All those funded by AMEX. Hard to understand what is wrong with that.

    On the other hand, even using the AA award search is mind boggling.

    Ultimately the hotels could sell their fixed assets into tax advantaged REIT’s and go asset light. The airlines are still stuck with all that metal… its a terrible capital intensive business.

  21. You know whats bonkers? Checked a Virgin Atlantic flight via Deltas website roundtrip from LAX to LHR and business class was 11 THOUSAND DOLLARS. 11. Did they smoke crack?

  22. You are all spoiled.
    I just booked an award from Munich to Seattle next year in Business with Lufthansa -> I paid almost €600 in sucharges…
    $173 is a steal…

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