Delta Appears to Raise Europe Business Class Awards to 105,000 Miles Each Way (50% Increase in a Year)

I’ve written about how Delta overcharges you for award tickets and how sometimes adding a connecting flight segment can reduce that price. With SkyMiles you can benefit from throwaway and hidden city ticketing on award travel. You also get:

  • Different saver award prices based on destination, even for the same flights
  • Different saver award prices for the same destination, but for different days

Delta would say of course that’s the case. There’s no longer an award chart. They don’t make promises to members about what an award will cost. And paid airfares can vary wildly, so their awards do too.

However miles aren’t like cash. You can spend cash anywhere — with Delta, with United, with Qatar Airways or You can spend SkyMiles where and at whatever price Delta says. There’s no independent central bank either. And rather than being ‘revenue-based’ they keep raising the lowest prices, even when paid tickets cost less.

It appears that SkyMiles is now charging 105,000 miles each way for transatlantic business class awards, up from 86,000 miles. That’s a 22% devaluation without notice on top of Delta’s already most-expensive saver awards compared to competitors.

Here’s a search for Delta metal New York JFK – London Heathrow award space.

That makes the least-expensive Delta business class roundtrips 210,000 miles. (Sometimes Delta roundtrip awards are cheaper than booking two one ways, but not in this case.)

Available Delta business class saver awards are bookable of course with miles from partners for less such as Virgin Atlantic or Air France KLM.

Partner awards booked with SkyMiles haven’t gone up in price, either, here’s Virgin Atlantic one way business class still 86,000 (which is not in itself a value).

When Delta raised transatlantic prices to 86,000 miles just over a year ago they rolled back the increase briefly, before bumping it up again to 82,000 miles in June. So we don’t know if this new highest price will hold in the immediate term.

A year ago the saver price was 70,000 miles, this is a 50% increase in a year. That’s nothing like what paid travel is doing. Delta’s revenue-based model appears to price in Bolivars, not dollars.

(HT: Don G.)

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. If raising the miles cost of a saver ticket causes them to open up more saver space it could be a net positive. The smart ones can always just book with partner miles that have much lower miles cost, but the key is that saver space needs to be available to begin with

  2. Tommyboy-

    If Delta gave away Rolexes with Business Awards, that would be a net positive too. Or maybe diamond ring.

    Oh, wait. No Rolex, no ring.

    And no reason to expect more award seats either.

  3. Gary – you still manage to continually be first to publish on many breaking industry updates while holding down a real job in a senior management capacity. The intellectual spin is appreciated in a space where it is generally lacking. From time to time you do emit a slight arrogance but so too do most other bloggers (in your case it is understandable given your position in the space). Thank you for presenting us with clear, thought provoking, well-rounded thoughts, knowledge and news on a regular basis.

  4. This is now consistent with the price that Flying Blue charges when you factor fuel surcharges at 1 cent per point.

  5. Why is everyone so surprised and pissed when this happens?
    This is a regular occurrence with all airlines and award programs.
    It is a constant cycle of inflated sign-up bonuses followed by a deflation of the miles/points.
    You need to factor this when earning/buying/valuing award points/miles.

    As every $.02 blogger has bootlegged, “Earn and Burn”.

    Stop whining.

  6. I am not biased to any of the carriers however—American Airlines for many routes shows only High level awards including many to Europe are on BA with huge fuel surcharges. When is the last time DFW-HKG was offered on miles? Never at low level. What about Europe? Little to no inventory. So its all relative. Dont get the Delta credit cards because awards keep rising. DFW-HKG 140K each way in business class. First class at 180K. I have not seen standard awards in yrs. MIA-LHR a route I go many times and many times in the past on AA flagship flight. Now most space is on BA with fuel durcharges that are huge.

  7. Did you ever stop to think that blogs like yours and many of the other famous travel sites created this ? By publishing every loophole in these loyalty programs and having so many people take advantage of your findings you have actually created this tightening.

  8. @Mike – Using your example, bloggers would be telling everyone to fly Delta because the award prices were so great. Instead, Delta already had pretty crappy prices and now they’re worse. Why would Gary advise readers to stupidly blow a lot more miles? Delta is doing this for only one reason: because they can.

  9. I’ve been seeing this from my small airport for a while. Could only find the lower miles from major cities. But as a result I’ve stopped putting spend on Delta cards, even though that likely means no more status for me.

  10. Don’t think that’s the case. I can still find RTs from JFK at 128,000 miles even though their latest official sale is long gone. And LHR is available for 172K this summer, as well. Delta being Delta, you gotta search by RT only and play with the length of trip to arrive at a desirable result. Then again, why would anyone use SkyMiles instead of Virgin for 50K one way?

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