Ever since removing their award charts from public view, Delta has seemed to go out of their way to find more and more ways to stick it to their SkyMiles members like imposing basic economy restrictions on the least expensive awards and eliminating high value upgrade awards.
Now they have a new trick to charge you more miles — and since they don’t tell you how their pricing works you might never even know it and wind up spending more miles than you have to for the same itinerary!
Delta now charges more than 50% the roundtrip cost of an award for many international redemptions. Reader Ryan C. asks about this practice, “I’m trying to book a one way into and out of Europe for a bunch of airports and dates in Summer 2019 and Deltas one way award pricing now looks more like one way international purchases. They’re incredibly high circa 130,000 one way MIA to CDG. ”
Here’s a summer roundtrip award from New York JFK to London Heathrow and back in business class for one passenger. It’s pricing at 176,000 Delta SkyMiles.
If you book the outbound individually, it comes up at 105,000 miles for the same flights.
And if you book the return individually, it comes up at 105,000 miles for the same flights – for a total of 210,000 miles or a premium of 34,000 miles (19%).
For about the last decade US airline frequent flyer programs have moved to one way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip. That’s been a trumpeted benefit of the program, compared to when they only offered roundtrip awards (or paying full roundtrip pricing for a one way) and compared to some international programs that charged a premium when booking one ways.
Delta though no longer consistently prices one way international award tickets at half the cost of roundtrip. And since they don’t publish award charts they don’t even tell their members this. A member might reasonable search one ways instead of roundtrip for simplicity in choosing flights, or out of random happenstance assuming that they’ll still get the same lowest price. And as a result they will win up paying more miles than necessary for the same trip.
This is in addition, of course, to the fact that Delta hits their members with carrier-imposed surcharges on awards originating in Europe. You’ll see that the taxes and fees for the return portion of the trip above are significantly higher than the total taxes and fees for the roundtrip that originates in the U.S. They charge extra for these awards ‘because they can’, because they assume customers originating in Europe are Europeans used to being gouged by their frequent flyer programs.
Fortunately Delta partner awards still largely price based on a (hidden) award chart and one way awards are mostly the same as roundtrip bookings. So when I’m seeing Delta flights for over 100,000 miles one way, I still see more enjoyable Virgin Atlantic flights for 86,000 miles.
This isn’t exactly the first time we’ve seen something like this. We’ve since lower prices that only show up searching roundtrip though we’ve also seen cases where roundtrips are cheaper than one ways in the past as well.