Delta Drops Partner Award Prices to Europe

I posted on April 1 that Delta reduced the price of partner awards to Asia. And it wasn’t even April Fools’ Day. In fact I asked Delta and they confirmed this was not a mistake. Now it appears that they’ve lowered the price of partner awards to Europe, too.

A year ago Delta started charging more miles for awards on partner airlines than for travel on Delta.

That meant business class partner awards went up from 100,000 miles roundtrip to 170,000 miles roundtrip — a 70% increase — in a mere 3 years. And that’s without the close-in miles premium for Virgin Atlantic travel.

But there is some limit to how much value a loyalty program can eliminate without driving customers away. Too much devaluation, customers don’t keep growing spend on the co-brand credit card, revenue to the program is jeopardized.

How much change each program can go through differs. How long it will take for members to realize and react differs, too. With that in mind it’s notable that Delta has cut the price of partner award travel to Europe.

Partner coach awards have dropped from 35,000 each way to 32,500 each way. You can easily see that by searching non-stop availability on a route (like Washington Dulles – Paris) that Delta doesn’t serve.

And partner business class awards have dropped from 85,000 each way to 75,000 each way.

That’s still 150,000 miles roundtrip for business class to Europe. It’s still more miles than United, American, or Alaska charge. But it dials back the egregiousness of the increase.

So far they haven’t lowered the price of Virgin Atlantic awards to and from London, so this is limited to other partners only. However you can get the lower partner award prices on Virgin if you connect onward beyond London rather than terminating there, and connect through London rather than starting your journey there.

(HT: @SpencerForMiles)

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. What inventory for delta metal awards do Delta partners have access to giving that they do not publish a “lowest tier?“ Thanks

  2. The lower pricing is now more in line with AA and UA pricing using my valuations (1.1 for DL, 1.3 UA, 1.4 AA). At thise rates, Europe business is $1,650 on DL, $1,610 on AA, and $1,680 on UA.

  3. @UA-NYC No it depends on the flight and the carrier. I just booked MIA IST RT for 60K on Turkish using United.

  4. What is most fascinating about this is what it demonstrates about economics and market discipline in an unregulated market.

    We call them miles and points, but these are nothing more than private currencies that are created at will by the airlines and essentially unregulated (to such an extent that the airlines may legally confiscate your miles on a whim). Unlike monopoly national legal tender currencies though, miles compete freely with each other even in the same jurisdictions and for the same users, and therefore instead of turning into Venezuelan Pesos — though Delta has certainly tried — they were forced to deal with the competitive ramifications of having debased their own product and now have to reverse by offering more bonus points and cheaper awards to shore up the value of the product. Capitalism is amazing, when the government steps back and lets it work.

  5. AA’s so-called lowest US-Europe award pricing is close to useless in practice :

    – AA’s virtually non-existent saver-J inventory on their own metal, even for a single traveler
    – the death of AirBerlin, who took away one of the easier redemption options
    – limited routes offered by Iberia / MAD
    – rather long detours for most of continental europe if routing through Finnair / HEL, coupled with the really thin TATL offerings by AY

    and finally

    – the king’s ransom in fuel surcharges and UK APD tax when enjoying BA’s ancient 2-4-2 J that is widely available …. for good reason

  6. @Mak : i agree with your general point on how meaningless mileage currencies are …. but Venezuela’s worthless currency is the bolivar, not the pesos

    the currency code used to be VEB with old bolivar, but is now the VEF with the “new” one (which is still worthless)

  7. I’ve soured on Delta, but eager to use up my remaining SkyPesos for partner Europe-Africa travel, which are a good deal at 35K o/w economy or 65K o/w in biz. There is even availability on the AF 787 to/from Nairobi.

  8. Its always funny that Delta gets all the hate but I see both United and AA play alot of games in relation to award travel. One trick from AA is to drop in needless legs in an award booking. Like it could show FLL-CLT-NYC-Europe. If you pick the gateway city (Lets say NY or Philly) no award is shown. Thats one of many tricks. United is extremely tight with low level awards of any kind

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