Delta Adding Minimum Stay Requirements to Award Tickets Booked Within 21 Days of Departure

I really didn’t think that Delta could make their Skypesos program any worse or less friendly than it already is. But they’ve found a way.

In August they are adding minimum stay requirements for award tickets booked at the usual standard (‘low’ in Delta parlance) mileage price within 21 days of departure.

Minimum Stay (Effective in August 2010)
A minimum of a Friday or Saturday night stay will be required for Award tickets booked within 21 days from departure. Minimum stay will not apply to the following:

•Awards booked by Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members
•Awards booked by Delta Reserve, Platinum and Gold primary cardmembers
•Awards priced at mid or high tier levels

Continental did away with Saturday night stay requirements. It’s not something that United or American have. It was long a feature of the Northwest program, since acquired by Delta.

I remember Randy Petersen telling me a story when I attended the Freddie Awards in Colorado Springs in April, 2003. He said that he had been speaking to United and knew they were about to roll out minimum stays, he suggested that Northwest hold back on a similar announced. United went first, generated massive customer outrage, and pulled back the rule. Northwest, which moved after United, flew somewhat under the radar and their change stuck. It’s possible I have this slightly off, but that’s how I recall the narrative.

Granted now that Delta is resurrecting this rule they’re doing it only on awards booked within 3 weeks of travel. And they’re exempting their co-branded credit card holders, another indication that mileage sales to banks really drive these programs. They’re also exempting mid- and top-tier elites. Like with their introduction of Sky Priority benefits (which weren’t really new at all), Delta doesn’t show much love for their Silver Medallions.

Ultimately this is one more way in which Delta Skymiles are worth even less than before. Hard to imagine, but they keep coming up with new ways to devalue the currency.

(Hat tip to @wchrisburcham.)

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, 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. Unbeliveable, and I was hoping for one-way awards at 50% of the miles. Ha! I guess this pretty much menas that’s not happening anytime soon.

    Although I’m not personally affected, this ticks me off royally.

  2. Minimum stay will not apply to the following:
    •Awards priced at mid or high tier levels

    Well, since the consensus is that low-level awards are just a figment anyway, maybe this doesn’t really matter.

  3. I like this chirp chirp and not just as a PM flyer. I love my AMEX RES card for all the benefits it gives me and most who fly Delta will have at least a GOLD AMEX for free bags to this only hurts those who almost never fly Delta. I say good at ya Delta!

  4. What they’ve done is made it impossible to use for family emergencies or for funerals as well as for their likely aim, which is for business travel. Up to now frequent flyer was always a possibility for last minute emergencies. This removes that choice in many situations.

  5. DL never ceases to amaze at finding more ways to further devalue its program. Used to be among the better for redemptions, but that is not but a distant memory. Looked today for a route and nothing but medium or high for entire schedule in all classes of service. Bad DL!

  6. I just used up the last of my SkyPesos for a RT ticket to get my brother from Seattle to New Orleans over Christmas. It was ridiculously “overpriced” at 40,000 miles, though a cash ticket would have been $650. After 4 years of trying to get some value out of my remaining miles, I’m just happy to be rid of them, so I never have to fly Delta again.

  7. Actually, a day or two before the flight there are many “low” awards. So, with no close in fee, they try to eliminate business travel. Kind of in the opposite direction compare to AA and UA.

  8. I think this is a stupid move by DL. Regular members and Silver members are impacted. I just don’t see the business benefit of doing this – you are hurting relatively infrequent travelers who are probably traveling for personal reasons, not crowding out business travel. You just irritate them. What’s the point?

    I would not be surprised, though, if effectively Silver gets devalued to the point of being “free bags”, and/or the other tiers get adjusted to 40/80/120 instead of 50/75/125. And, if one airlines triggers this, I bet others would follow.

  9. This program has always been amongst or at the bottom of the barrel as well as their customer service for most Sky Mile members
    Simply evil
    I ignore almost every offer by deleting it even if it is double or triple miles.I would rather have one mile of worth than 2 or 3 sky pesos…….
    Award ability typically amongst the worst I have ever seen in a program.
    Poster MrAOK brings up a good point
    The evil Delta management should they go through with this new stayover threat consider exceptions for family emergencies,like funerals and hospital visits however I doubt Delta has any heart……
    Deltas program is the poster child of why United and Continental should never get appoval to merge
    It stops monopoly behavior dead in its tracks when forced to compete.
    Luckilly I bailed out of this Titanic of a program long ago

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