Delta business class saver awards between the US and Israel were 70,000 miles each way. Effective November 1, those same saver awards go up to 85,000 miles each way. That’s an increase of 30,000 miles roundtrip. Delta snuck this one in, without any advance warning to members and indeed without telling members at all.
Two months ago 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.
Despite eliminating award charts, Delta does have an award chart. There is saver award inventory (all partner awards are saver awards), and the price of awards is fixed when it’s available. Delta just doesn’t publish the chart of prices any longer.
Delta used to refuse to give advance notice when making changes to that chart (going so far as to preposterously claim it was illegal to do so). Now they do not even give notice once they’ve already made changes.
The Delta.com award calendar shows the lowest one-way price for New York JFK – Tel Aviv in business class as 70,000 miles up through October 31. Often availability is on Aeroflot.
Starting November 1, the lowest award price — and this is the saver price, because it’s the price when space is available on partner airlines — is 85,000 miles.
This isn’t just a case where no saver awards are available, and Delta is pricing at ‘level 2’ pricing. Here’s “O” (saver business class award) inventory in November on partner airline Aeroflot, pricing at 85,000 miles.
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.
Delta’s new program doesn’t ‘reward high spenders more’ as they’d like members to believe because they don’t reward anyone more than they used to or more than major competitor programs do. But 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.
SkyMiles seems to me to be a rigged game. It used to not matter — awards cost more miles but it was easy to earn SkyMiles — you could pay twice the miles for an award as another program when you were earning two or three times as many miles compared to other programs. The earning advantage is no longer there.
(HT: Ron F.)