As reported on Flyertalk, Northwest is in the process of testing different award pricing options and various itineraries may show less than the usual published pricing for awards without capacity controls. When the usual domestic ‘PerkSaver’ 25,000 mile awards are unavailable, ‘PerkPass’ may price at 40,000 miles rather than 50,000 — or more precisely, 20,000 miles each way instead of 25,000. Similarly, there’s a report on unrestricted awards pricing at 70,000 miles to India instead of 90,000.
This is an improvement for those who would otherwise be in the position of booking an unrestricted award. My guess, though, is that they’re working on their systems towards the goal of aligning them with Delta, which currently offers three levels of awards at different mileage price points. The testing may have to do with preparing their systems for three pricing levels rather than two, and they may be collecting data on the level of bookings generated by the mileage ‘discount’ (relative to unrestricted pricing).
Ultimately harmonization with Delta Skymiles is bad. Very bad. But this one change may benefit some Worldperks members in the meantime.