Bulk devaluation of Delta SkyMiles (yes, one more)

Gary Leff at 5. February 2021.

Delta SkyMiles is back in business. They have raised the price of premium travel with their partner airlines and no one is looking. You’ve done a lot of things. This is despite the fact that they just raised premium prices in October. In a global pandemic, it should be easier and cheaper than ever to get rewards. In fact, Delta currently charges more than double what United and American charge for better premiums in many cases.

In October, in the midst of a global pandemic, Delta devalued SkyMiles. They have significantly increased the value of premiums with partner airlines. For example,

  • A one-way business class trip between the U.S. and Europe on Air France and KLM flights has been increased from 75,000 to 95,000 miles.
  • Virgin Atlantic JFK – London Heathrow increases from 86,000 to 95,000 miles, but from 21 to 60 days before departure, booked miles increase to 170,000 miles one way and less than 3 weeks before departure, to 195,000 miles.
  • Korean Air and China Airlines offer flights from 85,000 to 102,500 miles one way in business class between the United States and North Asia.
  • Coach awards have also been increased from 25,000 miles per trip between the U.S. and Europe for partners to 35,000 miles and from 32,500 miles per trip between the U.S. and North Asia for partners to 40,000 miles.

It’s amazing to see the cost of awards on partner airlines that are only available in economy class (excess space that will likely go unsold) and while Delta’s cost isn’t going up. In fact, airfares for many destinations are rarely this low, although of course there are exceptions, such as Australia, where there are restrictions on the number of passengers allowed to travel per day.

The only thing that seems to make sense,

  • Delta is required to spend money when a member redeems travel points with an affiliate, and this is about saving money.
  • And they get it, who pays attention to the price of international travel when there are so many countries that don’t allow travel anyway? In other words: You can validate your miles under darkness coverage.

Apparently this strategy was too tempting, as returned just three months later with .

Here is an overview of the new premium rates for one-way business partners:

  • US – Europe from 120,000 SkyMiles.
  • Flights between the US and North Asia start at 120,000 miles.
  • The United States and India start at 120,000 miles.
  • The United States and Southeast Asia start at 165,000 miles.

These are prices for a one-way journey, not for a return journey. Oddly enough, the journey from the US to the coast or Africa seems to be 115,000 miles round trip, even if you go via Europe. (At least for now).

Seriously, though: The US-Europe business class flew 75,000 miles round trip in September. Now it’s 120,000 miles round trip, a 60% increase.

Delta charges 165,000 miles for a one-way flight on the Los Angeles-Bangkok route with business class partners, while American Airlines charges 140,000 miles for a return flight. What do the people at 1030 Delta Boulevard think?

I tried to find reasons why Delta’s decision might make sense at a time when it needs to win back its loyal customers more than ever. The closest thing to logic is that Delta is just jealous of United Airlines because they devalued MileagePlus three times during the pandemic?

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

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