Delta Just Quietly Made a Change to the SkyMiles Terms and Conditions That May Reveal Their Whole Game

Yesterday I asked if Delta was slipping a whole new mileage redemption system in the back door.

They’ve made lots of changes lately, totally in the dark and without announcement. They’ve pulled award charts off of their website, and now say that awards cost whatever price members are presented with at the time they search an itinerary.

It’s still strange that they’ve done this mere weeks after implementing a brand new award chart, but it looks like they’re gradually moving to a revenue-based redemption model — just not telling their members about it. Just like seeming to require more than 3 weeks’ advance purchase to get the lowest mileage prices for an award.

Now they’ve quietly changed their program rules in a way that seem to prepare for a new redemption model to become official.

Delta has updated its program rules to reference ‘award prices‘ instead of the old ‘award levels‘. (The award chart that went into effect January 1 had five ‘levels’.)

Click to enlarge:

This would seem to suggest, to me, moving away from the idea of an award chart (levels) and to variable pricing that may change with each itinerary.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Totally agree – slowly moving to revenue based pricing of awards. They might keep some fixed-points low-level awards for select flights/destinations or slow periods – because it looks good in marketing materials, similar to AirAsia’s BigPoints program… hello Delta, welcome to the world of low-cost carriers…

  2. How would revenue redemption work with miles? It’s easy to implement with flights on your own metal, but delta doesn’t sell tickets on partners flights unless it’s a codeshare. I wonder how they are going to price them.

  3. I hope that fool DeltaPoints gets stuck with millions of worthless Skypesos. Anybody with two brains cells could read the blogs and see this coming, but it was so pathetic to see him keep his propaganda machine going with his ra-ra Delta lies. Brain Williams has nothing on DeltaPoints!

  4. @gary not sure about all partners or all days, but for when I looked KE and CHina Southern seem to be bookable only via some weird married segments system. For example, I tride to book an icn-iad itinerary, and the only option routed me through jfk for about 110k miles. No biggie, I figured I would just book a flight straight into jfk. Booking into jfk the engine tried to route me via atl, also for about 110k. If I tried to book a flight straight into atl the system routed me via jfk. Long story short, I couldn’t find an award into any city for the 70k it should cost and the engine wouldn’t give me a direct routing. Had the same issue going CAN-JFK and CAN-LAX. Only checked a few days, so can’t say it’s definite or systemwide , but something is up at least on the major Asian partners.

  5. I’m hoping United won’t consider this now that they have a spending requirement and seem to to value elites again.

  6. @Andrew

    IMO the spend requirement is a mirage. Pretty sure the elites weren’t thinned much (if at all) and those bottom elites (for the most part) spent more to make their status. It just makes it seem like the spend requirement thins out the heard. They look good doing it and get more $$$. They didn’t add any benefits minus Hertz either…. but did take away the Global Entry benny and added a few copays on certain routes (PS i believe).

  7. I used to just get annoyed with changes like this as a miles/points person. But seriously, how are they not pissing off ALL of their customers with their continuous nonsense?

  8. Gary, we could also call it “surge pricing.” The only thing you need to do is rename this post, “Delta’s New Surge Pricing is Great Here’s Why You Should Love It…”
    (Touché)

    PS – I’m dumping this airline, I’m dumping my Delta credit card and I’m burning my Skypesos ASAP.

  9. @Nick – we have no idea how Delta’s pricing will work. The lack of transparency is the biggest issue. It’s why I don’t trust them. See, you accumulate points at time A and use them at time B. The intertemporal aspect is why trust matters a tremendous amount. And Delta has a poor track record (IMHO) already. They’re making that worse. Once we get past that then it’s about value — relative to what they offered before, relative to what others offer.

  10. Seems to me that with all of the changes – no more award calendar, program rules (above), etc., PERHAPS their lawyers have claimed the day in taking over the SkyMiles program offices. And that while they may change the rules at any time, there has been an INFERENCE that SkyMiles are worth something towards award travel, as listed in an award chart. With no award chart, there is no longer an inference that they are worth anything regarding travel awards – just the step that I would take if going to a program that 1 Skymile = $0.01 toward any ticket price. That said, the lawyers might have trapped themselves into a situation that all miles earned prior to say Feb 1, 2015 must have an ‘old redemption’ alternative of points-based awards whereas ‘new’ miles earned after 2.1.15 have ONLY the redemption option of 1 mile = 1 cent. Remember when thet changed to SkyMiles, there was, for a period of time, the option to redeem under the old program. So maybe they have set themselves up to offer 2 award mechanisms for a while with OLD miles and NEW miles. Just my speculation!

  11. @robert, sorry to disappoint you, but DeltaPoints is down to 75k SkyMiles. He tweeted that like 13 hours ago. So, no, no millions of miles left. He booked several level 1 awards.

  12. @Bob – “But seriously, how are they not pissing off ALL of their customers with their continuous nonsense?”

    Because a good portion of their customers don’t care about miles one way or the other.

  13. Hard to imagine anyone who actually cares about miles and awards still being a Delta FF member. This has been a piss poor program for a number of years. Thus the moniker Sky Pesos. And it’s been getting progressively worse year by year.

    I’m just thankful for various blogs warning me to stay away from Delta. Why any blog feels the need to even mention Delta at this point is beyond me. Might as well mention changes to the Amway program, or Scientology for that matter.

    For the last few years I’ve read blog posts about the Sky Pesos program the same way people driving by an accident on the freeway can’t keep themselves from gawking.

  14. @RH: the answer is simple–if you live in a hub like ATL, you have very few choices. I really hate DL, but fly them all the time. My pesos are worth very little, and less every day, which just makes me resent DL more. But, then, I look for another way to get somewhere, and it requires 2 plane changes and more $, and time is worth a lot to me, so . . . . you see where I’m going.

  15. I have been a Delta Diamond from the beginning, but decided to change to American Airlines at the end of the year because I will no longer put up with their greed.
    Unfortunately, couldn’t use all the miles and I still have around 600 000 left. Also tried to look at how many miles I would need and got double n# of miles of what I had got last week.
    And since Delta is associated with American Express, I’ll not renew it when it is due. Perhaps that will teach them a lesson, since they received so much money from AMX.
    I hope that lots of people will notice and complain.

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