First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
One of the few positive aspects of the controversial new Delta SkyMiles 2015 program is that one way award tickets are now permitted for half the cost of a roundtrip. Previously Delta charged the same number of miles for a roundtrip award as for a one way.
Now, the dark side of this change is that as of 2015 Delta SkyMiles also eliminated stopovers on awards. Previously you were allowed one stopover on a roundtrip, while now you’re not allowed any stopovers on award tickets.
Delta SkyMiles one way awards are now bookable
Delta has been quick in implementing the new one way award scheme, as they started allowing one way awards through their website as soon as the clock struck midnight on the East Coast.
The good news is that one way awards are pricing exactly the way I was expecting.
Saver level domestic awards are pricing at 12,500 miles one way:
Saver level one way business class awards between the US and Europe are pricing at 62,500 miles:
Fuel surcharges originating in Europe?
Now, my one concern with the new SkyMiles program was regarding fuel surcharges on awards originating in Europe. For a long time, Delta SkyMiles has imposed fuel surcharges on award tickets originating in Europe. In other words, if you book an award ticket from the US to Europe on Air France you wouldn’t pay fuel surcharges, while if you book an award ticket from Europe to the US on Air France you would pay fuel surcharges.
My hope was that Delta would get rid of the Europe origination fuel surcharges altogether, though not surprisingly that was wishful thinking. One way awards originating in Europe do still have fuel surcharges.
For example, take the below Paris to Los Angeles Air France business class award, which costs 62,500 miles plus ~314EUR in taxes/fees/fuel surcharges:
When you look at the breakdown, that does indeed include the 191EUR in fuel surcharges on the ticket:
The good news is that as before, if you book a roundtrip award from the US to Europe, you won’t be charged the fuel surcharges for the return:
That’s as I expected, though I could have also seen them going the route of truly pricing awards as one ways, in which case we might have been stuck with the fuel surcharges on the returns of those itineraries.
Saver level availability is quite good
As part of the new SkyMiles program, Delta has also introduced five “tiers” of awards for travel on their own flights. As before, award tickets on partner airlines still all price at the saver level, so I wouldn’t be too worried.
That being said, for travel on Delta, I’m finding saver level award availability to be as good as before, if not better.
I’m not sure if it’s related to the 2015 SkyMiles program as such, but I am noticing something that I hadn’t seen before. It looks like Delta is finally releasing low level business class award space on their premium transcon routes, including between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco:
Previously they didn’t release business class space at the low level.
Delta’s new SkyMiles award calendar is awesome
Lastly, keep in mind that a few weeks ago Delta SkyMiles introduced a functional award calendar. That’s indescribably valuable in booking and searching award space.
While I think the SkyMiles 2015 program as such is a net negative for most members (though certainly a huge positive for high revenue customers), I think the change in award rules might actually be positive.
Basically we’ve traded stopovers for one way awards and a functional award calendar. For my personal redemption patterns, I consider that to be a net positive. The thing to keep in mind is that these one ways are awesome, except when originating in Europe, where you’ll still be stuck with hefty fuel surcharges.
How do you feel about the award changes to the 2015 SkyMiles program, now that it has been implemented?