Delta eliminated award charts a couple of years ago off of their website. They tell you the price they give to you on any given day is ‘the price’. This makes it easier to raise prices without members knowing, and since they made a happen of changing their program without notice anyway it eliminates the need to bother informing members as the value of the SkyMiles currency changes (gets worse).
Of course no matter what Delta tells you, they still price off an award chart, it’s simply hidden from view. They have buckets of availability and each bucket corresponds to a price. With partners that availability is in a single bucket, and whenever it is available it is the same price — except that Delta now bumps up pricing for certain partner awards booked close to departure.
With all of the changes and devaluations Delta makes every few months it’s difficult to stay on top of ‘current’ pricing. Of course it’s no guarantee at all of future pricing, since Delta miles become worth less several times a year.
SkyMiles International Award Charts
Aided by Travel is Free‘s comprehensive SkyMiles award chart updated in November before Delta raised the price of award travel on partners, and prompted by Travel Codex’s award chart which I wanted to verify and make a few corrections to, I created award charts for international travel on Delta and on Delta’s partners between the mainland US and the rest of the world.
Here’s what appears to be the current unpublished economy saver award chart:
And here’s what appears to be the current unpublished business class saver award chart:
Yes it is really the case that roundtrip business class saver awards on partners between the U.S. and India is 240,000 miles.
In contrast, American AAdvantage charges:
- 140,000 miles roundtrip in business class, including travel on Qatar and Etihad (availability for this is generally quite good)
- 230,000 miles roundtrip in first class, including travel in Etihad’s First Apartment
I’ve given American AAdvantage a very hard time recently (justifiably) but the value in their premium cabin partner awards remains strong.
Variable Partner Pricing
As always, just because Delta has an award price and there’s availability on partners at the saver level, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get that award at the saver level.
They impose fairly opaque routing rules and exercise journey control so that not all flights can be combined at the saver level, not all partners can be combined at the saver level, and not all routings can be combined at the saver level. Sometimes as a result prices are just higher, often additive (the sum of two awards) rather than including logical connections in a single award.
What’s new though is that Delta no longer has just one price for all partner saver awards. They only offer awards on partners when partners are making saver space available, however Virgin Atlantic awards booked close-in cost more. That’s why I asterisked US-Europe award pricing.
Instead of 35,000 miles one-way as a partner economy award, Delta will charge you 45,000 miles for one-way saver economy booked on Virgin Atlantic booked less than 14 days prior to travel. And at that point the partner saver business class price jumps from 85,000 to 102,500 as well.
Mere months ago one-way partner saver business class awards on Virgin Atlantic cost 62,500, regardless of when they were booked. Now they’re as much as 102,500 if booked less than 14 days out. That’s a 64% increase in price at a time when premium cabin transatlantic fares have hardly been rising.
When Delta Metal Pricing Applies
When Delta first obliterated their partner award pricing, if you stuck a Delta domestic flight at the beginning of a partner award (for instance, flying to Los Angeles on Delta and from Los Angeles to Asia on a partner) you’d get the lower Delta pricing. That no longer works.
However if you fly Delta overwater and connect to a partner you’ll get the lower Delta pricing. For instance fly New York to Amsterdam on Delta and connect to Jet Airways on to India this will price as a Delta award and not a partner award.