Delta SkyMiles Raises Award Costs (Again) Without Notice (Again)

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Update: It looks like Delta has rolled back the price increase and the saver level award cost is back 70,000 miles one-way… for now.

Delta doesn’t publish award charts, so we usually only find out about devaluations through trial and error. For that matter there’s really never a way to know whether something is wrong with SkyMiles award pricing or not, because “the price is the price.”

In April Delta massively devalued SkyMiles redemptions, as they raised the cost of business class award tickets on partner airlines. Rather than charging the same number of SkyMiles regardless of whether you’re redeeming on Delta or a partner airline, they created separate pricing when traveling on a partner airline.

Now Delta is back with yet another devaluation, this time impacting premium cabin flights to Europe. With this latest changes, it’s more expensive to fly Delta to Europe than to fly on a partner airline. Up until now, a business class ticket to Europe has cost 70,000 SkyMiles on Delta, or 85,000 SkyMiles on a partner airline.

However, with Delta’s latest change, it looks like the cheapest business class award tickets between the US and Europe on Delta are 86,000 SkyMiles one-way. I can’t guarantee this applies on every single route, but I’ve searched probably a dozen routes over a variety of dates, and I see nothing for less than 86,000 SkyMiles one-way through the end of the schedule:

For example, I see this pricing from Seattle to Paris:

And from New York to London:

And from Portland to Amsterdam:

And from Atlanta to Dublin:

So now it’s 1,000 SkyMiles more to fly Delta metal than it is to fly on a partner airline. What the heck?!

I assume the price increase for travel on Delta is intentional, though who really knows? I can see them increasing the price, but I can’t make sense of why they’re now charging more for travel on Delta than they charge for travel on partner airlines.

This is the problem with Delta’s lack of transparency when it comes to SkyMiles. For example, a couple of weeks ago they started charging carrier imposed surcharges on some flights that they didn’t previously have them on. I assumed it was intentional, since Delta has conditioned us to think that “the price is the price,” and since they don’t even give their employees any guidance or resources, we don’t have any recourse when these kinds of changes happen. As it turned out, it was a glitch (or just something implemented earlier than it was supposed to be). I wonder if Delta proactively reached out to passengers who booked award tickets during that period to refund them?

This particular change is just bizarre, and sure sucks.

As before, Delta charges just 65,000 SkyMiles for business class between Mexico and Europe, so that’s now 20,000 miles cheaper than flying out of the US:

Interestingly out of Canada pricing seems to vary, though I see some dates where an award still costs 70,000 SkyMiles and even routes you through the US:

Anyone notice award price increases in any other regions?

(Tip of the hat to @thedavidgregory)

  1. Oh no! Everybody has been talking about how they were going to leave AA to go to Delta because of changes. Now they’ll have to go back to AA!

  2. I see it on a flight redemption I was eyeing up from MSP to Colombo, Sri Lanka via LHR and PVG. Yesterday, it priced out at 95K miles (which I thought was a steal), today its at 120K. Over a 25% increase is definitely a bummer!

  3. Do you feel that Delta SkyMiles is worth the sign-up bonuses because now, the prices one way is the average price of a saver award first class ticket on competitor airlines I feel like 85,000 for Delta One is terrible excitedly because of their out-dated business class I just used up about 280,000 Delta SkyMiles on, a last minute trip (Round Trip Business Class for two to Europe). I feel inclined to invest more time and effort in acquiring delta miles. Do you think they will improve their SkyMiles?

  4. Delta doesn’t care at all about its useless SkyMiles program. It exists for the sake of filling a slot. Luckily I’ve spent all my SkyMiles and have no interest at all in accumulating them again.

  5. Well now they can have a “sale” at 20% off and everyone will rush to buy tickets at 70,000 miles like it’s the deal of the century.

  6. With this devaluation and the JAL devaluation (regarding the surcharges) it makes sense to reiterate your golden rule, Lucky. If you have a redemption you like and makes sense, take it!

  7. BUT this does not mean the credit card sign up bonuses are a bad deal. Especially when the bloggers tell you so tomorrow.

    Like trump, bloggers are for entertainment not to be taken seriously.

  8. @Lucky:

    With all these devaluations coming to Delta – again and again and again – any recommendations on where we should start crediting our flights on Delta? I fly DL at least 2x per month for work transcontinentally. Other than status – which I’ll never get any use from – I would like to be able to do something with those miles.

  9. And let’s not talk about how when most of the time when you do a search that isn’t a zillion months out (who can possibly plan that far in advance anyway??) they want 220,000 miles plus one-way.

  10. As a Delta hostage in MSP, let me just say that those redemptions in the screen shot would be a dream.
    Next Sept to Europe for 86k skymiles one way?

    We can only get that on a Tuesday. Maybe.

    Want a Thurs, Fri, Sat, or Sunday flight?
    That’ll be 155k to 225k one way if you book out 10 months in advance

  11. Ben doesn’t retract sensationalist articles, even when the border libel. Fake headlines are good for clicks. More important than the true.

    I honestly don’t know what to believe on this blog anymore.

  12. Historical perspective. 30 years ago a round-trip Trans-Atlantic award in Business Class was 50,000 miles. First class was 75K miles. Economy was 25K miles. Fees were trivial.

    This was on United but other airlines were around the same.

    Now it is typically more than that just for a one-way award.

  13. I got 4 round trip on Delta from the US to LHR next summer in coach for 50k miles round trip. At $1800 cost each I think now that was steal.

  14. AdamR – If you are earning Delta miles via flights, just burn them on pedestrian domestic travel when you need it. 30K miles to go to a wedding, same for a quick weekend trip, 30K gifted to family, whatever. Earn and burn. Don’t waste time and brain cells trying to redeem for aspirational international travel, unless you are someone who earns hundreds of thousands of points easily and doesn’t really care about redemption values (and there are a lot of those).

  15. @steven – jetblue for domestic and oneworld for international. Aadvantage still has sweet spots as long as you are not flying on either aa or ba metal (especially two of the middle eastern carriers).

  16. The minimum redemption for regional domestic flights on many routes, from let’s say MSP to OMA was 12500 for the entire 2017. As of writing this comment, the cheapest economy redemption has increased to 14500 miles.

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