Did Delta Just Lower SkyMiles Award Costs To Asia?!?

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Well this is truly bizarre. As most of you probably know, Delta SkyMiles doesn’t publish award charts for mileage redemptions. The price you see is the price you get. That means we only learn about price increases by trial and error. These are typically intentional, though sometimes Delta claims that these price increases are a glitch, in which case they’re rolled back. The problem is that since they don’t communicate with members, we don’t really have a way of knowing whether something is intentional or a glitch.

Delta has been steadily increasing award rates, in particular for travel on partner airlines. As of last year, Delta SkyMiles charges more for award tickets on partner airlines than for awards on their own flights. For travel to North Asia on a partner airline, Delta has been charging 40,000 miles for economy and 95,000 miles for business class, one-way.

It looks like that pricing has been lowered. Delta’s website is now pricing out partner airline awards to North Asia at lower costs — specifically, the cost is now 35,000 miles in economy and 85,000 miles in business class, which represents a cost decrease of 5,000 and 10,000 miles, respectively.

For example, take the below availability between New York and Guangzhou on China Southern:

As you can see, award tickets cost just 85,000 miles one-way in business class.

We have no clue whether this pricing is intentional or not. On one hand I can’t imagine Delta actually decreasing the cost of partner airline premium cabin redemptions. At the same time, who knows, anything is possible. If you are considering redeeming miles for travel to North Asia on a partner airline, I’d recommend booking ASAP to take advantage of this pricing. You always have 24 hours to cancel for free. Hopefully this reduced pricing lasts and Delta had a change of heart, but I wouldn’t count on it.

As a point of comparison, Delta charges 35,000 miles for economy and 80,000 miles for business class on their own flights between those regions. However, that saver level pricing can be very tough to come by.

What do you guys think — is this an intentional move, or a glitch?

(Tip of the hat to US Credit Card Guide)

  1. Very suspicious that they have the same reduced award availability for every day of the month. I have never seen it before. I think it is a glitch.

  2. hello. I think the mileage redemption cost has gone down, but the taxes-fees are really pricy. im looking at economy hnl-pvg-myj with china eastern and its 60000 miles+$253. yikes. kinda hard to digest $253 taxes but maybe its a bargain?

  3. @ Ben — True cost = 85,000 miles + inhalers for life from the asthma due to pilots smoking. The Chinese government really needs to so something about the pilot smoking issue. I see “China” in an airline name and that’s my first thought. I will not fly Chinese airlines because of this issue.

  4. I think Delta is as trustworthy as a three dollar bill.

    If it’s a glitch, they’ll fix it and invalidate any tickets issued pre-fix.

    If it’s not a glitch, there’s no way it will last, and they’ll return to normal SkyPeso pricing after this stunt gets them a sufficient amount of media and blog coverage.

  5. Flew China southern JFK to CAN to CHC in February. Business class both legs. Zero smoke smell. My wife has a super sensitive nose and if anyone was smoking she would detect it 100% and be very vocal about it.

    We both enjoyed each leg. Food was ok. Seats were comfortable and service was fine. For people who travel and get excited about the destination, not review seats for a living and need to make comparisons, the CZ business class is just fine.

  6. I’m seeing 85k for CI to TPE. This is a good price for an excellent product. I’m guessing not a glitch, but who knows.

  7. @David I typically fly Star Alliance since I carry status with UA. For some recent consulting work in China, the company flew me China Eastern business twice roundtrip, once JFK-Shanghai Pudong then ORD-Shanghai Pudong and honestly both were terrific experiences relative to what I read. I guess I’m a lucky one but I have nothing but great things to say about China Eastern.

  8. 95k to North Asia was insane. Only if I were desperate would I even consider it and I would hate myself in the morning. I suspect the price decrease to 85k is, at least temporarily, permanent.

  9. Lucky we have another Delta problem. Delta is not showing any redemptions from MIA to Paris on Air France. They are selling tickets on Air France but no redemptions. None at all the rest of the year. Only options are Delta flight all with connections.

  10. I hope it’s permanent. Miss the days when it was only 70k. I fly to TPE once a year and it’s nice flying China airlines.

  11. We flew China Eastern in J YVR-PVG-BKK round trip without any smoking issue
    Food was mediocre but rest of experience was great

    Only issue is awful children who ran and screamed and played and sung and fought for 6 hours on the PVG to YVR leg. One climbed to top then fell off the back of the seat into the passenger trying to sleep behind them

    I know people have the right to bring kids in Business class, but I certainly didn’t pay thousands of dollars to sit next to the brats from hell

  12. @Gene you can always fly delta for 5k points less and no smoke…..
    But as someone pointed out….the fuel surcharges are high…

  13. Lucky – thank you for your post – you just saved me 10K miles.

    I already had my trip booked from Austin – JFK – Taipei on China Airline for 95K…reserved the same flight for 85K and cancelled the 95K reservation and confirmed.

    Now working on the inbound!

    Thanks again

  14. Dear god…is it just me or is even 85K one-way in business just…a lot? I used to think 150K r/t was “high-median” pricing, but if 170K r/t is now considered “jump on it” attractive we might as well all quit playing this game. 🙂

  15. I can NEVER seem to find business availability on Delta flights to Asia. Only their partners. Sigh…

  16. @Vet&Banker SkyPesos, my dude. Some mile currencies are still worth collecting. Not Delta’s, though.

  17. A couple weeks ago I booked roundtrip flights to Asia, and whether the flights were with Delta or a partner, they were coming out to 65,000-70,000 per round trip.

  18. I just booked PEK-LOS on airfrance metal for 80K one way and $40 in fees. AF’s site had the same itinerary on KLM for 100K flying blue points PLUS >$400. I took the delta deal.

    now hoping the strike doesn’t affect my flight…

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