Delta’s Latest SkyMiles Devaluation Gets Even Worse

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

A bit over a week ago, while they were in the middle of one of their biggest operational meltdowns in recent history, Delta devalued the SkyMiles program once again. Delta doesn’t publish any award charts as of a couple of years ago (“it’s the same as revenue tickets, the price you see is the price you get”), so we never really know when a devaluation is coming. That’s because we find out the hard way, when award costs are suddenly higher than they were before… and Delta hopes no one will notice.

Delta has devalued awards to specific regions a countless number of times in the past, but a bit over a week ago they took it to the next level. Delta raised the costs for virtually all award tickets on partner airlines, at least for travel originating in the US. However, the way they priced award itineraries was a bit odd:

  • If you traveled exclusively on partner airlines, award costs increased
  • If you traveled exclusively on Delta, or on a combination of Delta and partner airlines, award costs remained the same

To give an example, a Los Angeles to Shanghai flight on China Eastern in business class cost 95,000 miles, while a Los Angeles to San Francisco to Shanghai flight (with the San Francisco to Shanghai flight on China Eastern) only cost 80,000 miles, since there was a segment on Delta. So they basically gave you a 15,000 mile discount for connecting, even though you were taking the same airline for the longhaul flight.

China-Eastern-Business-Class-777 - 4

The problem is that since Delta doesn’t announce any SkyMiles changes, we’re always left in the dark as to whether something is a glitch or intentional. As noted by Live and Let’s Fly, it seems that we now have the answer, as SkyMiles has again updated award pricing when you’re traveling on a combination of Delta and a partner airline.

In line with last week’s devaluation, if you fly exclusively on Delta from Los Angeles to Shanghai, awards start at 80,000 miles.


If you take the same route on China Eastern, it would cost 95,000 miles.


However, unlike before, flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Shanghai now prices out at 95,000 miles, rather than 80,000 miles.


However, if you fly from Los Angeles to Shanghai on Delta, and then Shanghai to Beijing on China Eastern, the award prices out at just 80,000 miles.


I assume this is what Delta intended all along. This means SkyMiles has lower award pricing if your longhaul segment is on Delta. You can include short-haul segments on partner airlines (like Shanghai to Beijing), as long as the longhaul segment is on Delta.

Delta-One-London - 3

Meanwhile if your longhaul segment is on a partner airline then you’ll pay the higher price, even if you have a short segment on Delta on the same itinerary.

Essentially Delta SkyMiles is copying the devaluation United MileagePlus made back in 2014, when they started charging more when the primary airline on an award was a partner.

Just when I was starting to warm up to Delta…

  1. Ehhhhhh my head is literally spinning from this. Given how cheap flights are worldwide this year I guess I need to focus exclusively on my hotel loyalty programs instead. Will figure out how to use the remaining 80k Skymiles another month. Thanks for this!

  2. Miles are working on being obsolete. They are good still for business and first class redemptions (assuming you can find it for when you would like to fly) but that’s getting hard now. Cash back is slowly becoming the means of redeeming flights.

  3. This was just a loophole they patched up. You were able to decrease the partner award price by tagging on a Delta domestic flight.

  4. Miles obsolete? Maybe for American carriers. European carriers’ miles are great as long as you can avoid Avios surcharges, and Asian carriers’ miles are golden

  5. Delta miles are both worthless, and AA is becoming useful only for niche redemptions. United is currently the only legacy US Airline with a worthwhile program. Aeroplan is starting to look competitive again, but besides that, It’s time to look overseas for other options.

  6. Skypesos are useless but the airline does according to most have the best onboard prodcut of the Big 3…

  7. Lucky,

    Can you post an update review of the large US mileage programs? Take into account award pricing, availability of saver awards, mileage earning, etc. I just see bloggers complaining about devaluations but little advice on which airlines to choose now based on the current state of the programs.

  8. European carriers still have good miles value.I picked up two roundtrip in great business class on Iberia for
    68,000 miles roundtrip last week MIA to MAD.Also no crazy BA fuel surcharges.All good things must come to an end but there is still good value with certain programs.

  9. Miles will become obsolete, but the banks will change how you can redeem points for better value than 1c for those who do not want cash back. Actually only Amex lets you redeem for 1c besides their Business Platinum. It is selfish that they only have the 50% points refund on the business platinum, and not the personal. Look for them to beef up the Gold card next.

  10. DELTA: Driving Every Loyalty Traveler Away. Delta is the instigator of most all negative frequent flyer industry program changes that then make their way to other airlines loyalty programs. The fact that Delta does not even publish an award chart for redemptions is ridiculous. Hopefully, there are still some remaining worthwhile redemptions for those whom have SkyMiles.

  11. I was hesitant to to use 50k DL miles for two ow tickets RAK-CDG on Air France business class. After this devaluation, I am happy I did, especially because AF catering was excellent even on a relatively-short 3 hours flight.

  12. In stock or investment speak Delta has managed to move from “Sector Perform” to “Sector Under Perform” to “Sell”.
    Sad as I kinda like Delta. Glad I’m not hub captive with them.

  13. I think it depends on how you use the points. I just booked Business seats on China Southern from Melbourne vis Guangzhou and Amsterdam to Hamburg – 90.000 Skymiles and tax just above 150 USD as well as 90.000 Skymiles from Saigon to Johannesburg via Paris in Business. You will find there is great availability out of Asia / Australia on partner airlines to Europe / South Africa. North American routes have had poor redemption since long time.

  14. @Lucky, can you do a new post about international frequent flyer programs that it would be worth crediting miles to when flying on the Big 3?

  15. Thanks for staying on top of this, it’s too much for a regular person to be a mileage detective on the side trying to keep up with Delta’s devaluations.

    On the bright side,to give credit where due, Delta did very well in handling their cancelled flights recently. They were very fair on the compensations.

  16. Sad – used to redeem Skymiles to fly CI business from JFK to TPE and back. I remember getting one way for 70k two years ago, then they raised it to 80k last year….and now 95k…………………….

  17. No, delta was not fair at all on cancelled flights compensation. I had to drive 650 mile to pick up new flight aND spend night in hotel. So far they offered voucher points and sky miles, really? ??

  18. They call them skypesos for a reason. I’m not even sure anymore. The Venezuelan dollar is probably worth more than these things at this point.

  19. Are you all this simple-minded?

    I don’t like devaluations any more than you do. But let’s be realistic. If someone handed you $10,000 but told you that the price of what you wanted was going from $6000 to $12,000, would you decide cash was worthless and throw it away? Despite being closer to your goal?

    It is exceptionally easy to earn Delta miles. Their co-branded CC offers continue to be reliably robust and they transfer in from Amex and SPG. So you get them easier, but they cost more to redeem.

    I don’t like the no-notice, but this isn’t a disaster moment. Miles are really easy to earn on DL, so they cost a bit more to burn. At least you can still find availability on their own premium cabins. Look at AA sometime.

  20. Hey they have to make those 20k meltdown comp awards as worthless as they can as fast as they can.

    They probably still have displaced passengers sitting around in Atlanta

  21. It’s not always doom and gloom with Delta, I just cancelled and rebooked my two Delta One Tickets to South America that I had booked for 150K each and rebooked them for 105K each under the new sale. Saved myself 90K Skypesos… although Delta Skymiles are not the BEST miles out there, when used strategically you can at least find flights unlike AA’s CRAP award chart that although they publish prices, it never shows Saver Awards.

  22. Hey Lucky,
    I’m on limited points with Delta, 115k and trying to shoot over to Morocco from the Philippines and am having a hard time trying to navigate this. I have realized how difficult it is with Delta points and am seeing the points as non very valuable either. Any ideas of how to get better routes would be great. Are there Asian hubs that I should be looking at aside from Manila?

  23. I used Dela’s “Premium Economy” recently and it was the worst I’ve so far experienced. I understand they are going to upgrade on certain routes this year but still I won’t use them again so any loyalty programs they have are of no use to me.

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