Delta has made it clear for the last several years that their currency has no stable dependable value, and they’re not to be trusted. Small children whose fathers are hunched over controls have landed planes with fewer signals than SkyMiles has given out.
Delta Devalues More Often Than Argentina
At the beginning of last year Delta made changes to the price of several international awards for travel October 1 onward. You’d think one devaluation in the first quarter of 2016 would be enough for the SkyMiles program, but that would be wrong because they made no notice changes to Tel Aviv awards in March.
Then late in the year they increased the price of transatlantic business class 15,000 miles roundtrip to 140,000 miles with no notice. Compare to 115,000 at American and 115,000 on United metal from MileagePlus (140,000 on partners) with no fuel surcharges. Delta adds fuel surcharges to awards originating in Europe.
Delta Just Massively Spiked Prices for Partner Awards
Without any notice whatsoever, Delta has made two drastic changes:
- Raised the cost of partner awards, so that partner saver awards are now more expensive than awards on Delta flights in (many? most? they haven’t told us) cases.
- Introduced variable pricing to some partner awards. Until now partner awards have had a fixed cost, a partner award was either available or unavailable. Now it may be available, but close to departure might cost you more.
Here’s New York JFK – London. Delta business class is 70,000 miles (lowest) and Virgin Atlantic saver awards are 85,000. They actually introduced this back in October and claimed it was a glitch.
This is a 30,000 mile increase roundtrip, after just raising prices 15,000 miles roundtrip. Travel prior to October was 125,000 miles roundtrip in Virgin Atlantic business class. Now it’s 170,000!
But wait, there’s more..
April 25th is less than three weeks out, and there’s business class saver award space on Virgin Atlantic. That’s now 102,500 miles one-way. For transatlantic. Saver award. Words fail.
Delta is still 80,000 miles each way in business class between the US and China. But partner China Eastern sees a 15,000 mile each way (30,000 mile roundtrip) increase. Fortunately there’s no further increase for close-in travel as of this writing.
Other changes we’re aware of:
- US-Australia goes from 95,000 to 115,000 each way on partner Virgin Australia (a 40,000 roundtrip increase)
- US-South America economy goes from 30,000 to 35,000 miles each way on partners
There are certainly going to be others, of course Delta won’t tell us what prices have gone up because they eliminated award charts and sometimes even claim it’s illegal to give program members advance notice of changes (and silly excuse that so wrong a Delta executive promised me they’d never use again).
One Trick That Still Works for Lower Pricing
There’s a way to get the Delta metal pricing while flying on a partner however. It appears that as long as you have a Delta flight segment in the itinerary, you get the lower Delta metal price. If you can find a Delta domestic flight with lowest level award space to connect to your partner international price (and if Delta doesn’t disallow it) then you get the old saver price:
What Delta is Up To
They rolled this out while their entire airline operation is in meltdown. Their IT broke down such that customers couldn’t even pull up itineraries on the Delta.com website, but they managed to spend time and resources finding a way to deliver even less to their customers.
Delta wants to go revenue-based on redemptions, but revenue-based redemptions are transparent. You have points worth a certain dollar amount. Here you have no idea what awards are going to cost, and they aren’t even tied to price. They’ll tell you your points are like money, and the price changes day to day, but with money you can buy tickets from Delta or United or American. And you can buy toothpaste.
The value of your money is reasonably fixed and transparent, at least you know when there’s inflation. Delta won’t even publish inflation statistics. That’s the worst kind of money, like you find in unstable third world dictatorships. The biggest problem SkyMiles faces is their trust deficit.
You don’t get information to understand what miles are worth, and when they make changes Delta doesn’t play straight with what they’re doing with your miles or how that will affect you. The lack of an announcement underscores that. Delta makes changes, without (any) enough information for members to understand what those changes are or mean, and the airline’s position is that’s all the information anyone deserves to get.
What’s the message here? Delta’s President says he doesn’t want you to redeem miles for travel. Instead Delta wants you to use your miles for Dom Perignon in their club and in the future perhaps for haircuts.
They are trying to create the perfect company town. They pay out SkyMiles, and then set the prices of goods in their company-owned store. And here’s the thing, they have a monopoly in this town. So while they tell you you’re getting 1 cent per point (as though that’s a good thing!) redeeming miles for Dom Perignon, that’s based off of Delta’s inflated prices. $250 for a bottle of Dom Perignon is nuts, and so is 25,000 miles.
Except you do have a choice. I desperately want to like Delta, because of the devaluations at American. But when American announced their new award chart in late 2015, they told me they did their best to make sure the devaluations made the program not quite as bad as Delta’s. And Delta’s just keeps getting worse.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)