Delta’s SkyMiles award changes aren’t all bad… more Air France availability and a new award chart “sweet spot?”

Earlier I wrote about Delta’s ridiculous SkyMiles award changes, whereby the cost of international business class low level redemptions (yes, I’m talking about those awards that hardly exist) are going up substantially for travel on or after June 1, 2014.

The changes suck, though my friend/colleague Mac (if you want help with SkyMiles, he’s the one to talk to, by the way) pointed out that it’s not all bad news.

First of all, it appears as if starting June 1, 2014, Delta has access to the same Air France/KLM classic award space that Flying Blue members have access to. For the better part of a year now Delta hasn’t had access to all Air France/KLM award space. I don’t know whether Delta was blocking Air France award space so they didn’t have to pay for it, or if Air France was preventing SkyMiles members from redeeming for it, but it yielded the same net result for members regardless. It has been a real pain, as they’ve literally blocked all transatlantic business class award seats for months at a time, which is beyond frustrating.

However, looking beyond June 1, 2014, it appears as if SkyMiles award space matches Flying Blue classic award space. Now this may just be a coincidence since the blocking doesn’t always occur, but If that sticks it may very well be worth the 25% premium for transatlantic business class. Interestingly Alaska did a similar thing in June, whereby they raised Air France/KLM transatlantic award costs to match what Flying Blue charges, and subsequently seemed to have access to all the availability.

The new award chart also creates a “sweet spot” with the South Asian Subcontinent, which isn’t going up in price. That region includes India, the Maldives, etc. This is interesting because virtually the only way to get there is via Europe, so it’ll now be cheaper to go from the US to India (via Europe with a stopover, if you’d like) than it will be to go just from the US to Europe.

Anyway, the changes still suck, but those two things were interesting, I thought.

Filed Under: Awards, Delta
  1. with regards to india, you can also fly china southern via LAX to delhi (which is their only desitnation). Or virgin atlantic via london to delhi and mumbai.

  2. How (if at all) will this affect using Virgin Atlantic miles for Air France/Delta flights? I’m hoping to use my VA miles for SFO – CDG

  3. Hi Lucky;

    Nice reporting!

    However, the Delta blocking of partner awards, at least business class, hasn’t been in effect for a couple of months. I booked LAX-FCO/open jaw/VCE-CDG/CDG-LAX in business on AZ and AF for next May/June. (TATL nonstops, hard to get from LA). Availability for AF was good at the Delta booking horizon. AZ less so (and not daily flights), but still got a pair on Memorial Day weekend.

    Glad I got in under the wire! Thanks to you and Gary’s assessment to where Delta was heading.

  4. A “sweet spot” created because other prices increased isn’t much of a sweet spot imo. It’s cheaper relative to the other awards, but those all require a lot of points now.

  5. I’ve actually found a lot of bus class award space to/from Europe this summer, but this new mileage increase is another annoyance. I’m not sure what value Delta is offering as justification, but as Gary said in his post, the lie-flat seats really aren’t enough.

    Gotta love the new American Airlines elite challenge though. I’ve never considered AA elite status until now.

  6. Is AF classic award space “O” class? Because I can’t get the O availability on expertflyer to match up with, unless I’m searching the wrong fare class

  7. Thanks to Mac @ PointsPros I was able to book 4 business class for next summer round-trip using AF metal…A380 LAX-CDG. …at the DL LOW AWARD level.

  8. Makes it less worse, I guess… any idea if this change will also apply for the formerly limited Virgin Atlantic upper class availability as well?

  9. @ David O — Shouldn’t impact it at all. Virgin Atlantic miles can’t be redeemed for travel on Air France, though they’ll continue to be redeemable for travel on Delta.

  10. @ beachfan — There weren’t doing a lot of blocking and I could be going crazy, but I do see some change between now and a few days ago in terms of west coast to Europe availability.

  11. @ Joe — Yes it is. When you’re looking at availability on Delta’s website be sure you click “Search By Schedule” and not “Search by Price” if you want the Air France space to show up.

  12. I see that business class is available but it looks like economy is blocked on the delta site. But I can see the economy seats on EF and the Air France website.

  13. We don’t know what this means yet — remember that the best match between Delta and Air France availability has been 10-11 months out, and this was true for last summer when the mismatch first began. (This is a period where the Air France program does not yet have access to Air France seats!)

    We need to wait and see how this holds up after a few months.

  14. One positive that seems to have happened is that availability on KLM/AirFrance has opened up again. I’d deal with the devaluation if there were simply more award seats open to DL fliers.

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