Delta Doesn’t Want You to Spend Your Miles for Free Travel, and May Finally Give You a Reason Not To

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Delta’s President has said that he wants SkyMiles members to spend their points for products and services sold by the airline instead of free travel. He’s even speculated on ‘miles for haircuts’ which doesn’t strike me as particularly motivating of consumer behavior.

However the airline may have finally hit on something almost appealing. The Points of Life covers Delta Airlines current pricing for premium champagnes in their club lounges — in both miles and money. And he declares Krug the “Best Use Of Delta SkyMiles.”

Now, Delta’s menu doesn’t tell you what year they’re offering you, check with the bartender. That’s crucial for both the Dom and the Cristal. Dom Perignon in particular has been incredibly inconsistent year-by-year since the disappointing 2003 vintage. (They didn’t even used to turn each year’s grapes into a vintage.)

And more importantly the cash prices for the bottles do not reflect retail values. I think it’s fine for an airline to charge a premium in their club considering they have to buy, store, and bring the bottles through security. This isn’t the same as picking something up in your local bottle shop.

However don’t mistake Dom Perignon for a $250 bottle, or Krug for a $200 bottle for that matter.

Still, considering that Delta had been valuing miles for premium drinks at a penny apiece against their own inflated prices, this represents a real improvement. 12,500 SkyMiles for Dom rather than 25,000 brings this into the realm of consideration and gives you slightly more than a penny apiece in value against street prices.

I value Delta miles at 1.1 cents as it is. And I’ll generally prefer the Krug, where you’ll get about 1.4 cents a mile compared to a wine merchant’s price — and you’ll get it airside.

It may not be how everyone spends their miles, and frankly most of the time I’m in the airport waiting for a flight where Delta offers the best available lounge I’m not thinking about popping open a bottle of $130 champagne. But it’s not crazy either.

I do have some Delta flights coming up this month, and I will have access to Delta’s SkyClub thanks to my Platinum Card by American Express. Sadly I’ll be alone and don’t foresee the opportunity to give this a go.

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. […] Loyalty – I think I was pretty much entirely wrong here. Alaska’s award chart is largely intact–I suspect because of the Virgin America merger. Marriott-SPG has made small announcements, but they haven’t yet figured out how to combine systems, so I think all parties are happy for the time being. There’s been no new level of award redemption, however American has continued to make us question whether they ever release award space… But there’s always the opportunity to redeem 10,000 Delta SkyMiles for a bottle of Krug! […]


  1. Unfortunately I guess one has to *buy* a ticket on DL – which I never do…also don’t collect DL miles, else this might be a great way to collect value from them!

    However, if you wanted to take the bottle with you – allowed?? (I guess if the lounge/s is/are airside…)

  2. Also – where are you getting these (uniform) links with reviews and pricing from many different retailers, Gary?

  3. Although not a great use of miles, I do think it’s a neat option to have if you are on a special trip and want to make it a bit nicer. If I had a huge stash of skypesos and was going on a 25th wedding anniversary trip or something of that nature i might consider it.

  4. If you have a DL AmEx card they are offering 2 free premium drinks in the Club May 1- 14.

    Per the email I received yesterday…

    Raise your glass as we toast to your travels with #DeltaAmexPerks. From May 1-14, show your Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card at THE BAR at Delta Sky Club® for up to two free Premium beverages. Enjoy each time you visit the Club, as a thanks for your continued loyalty.

  5. I was at the skyclub at JFK T2 yesterday, they both didn’t have any of the premium wine/champagne selections but also the system to spend miles for anything was “down”

  6. It’ no wonder that Delta miles are derided as “Sky Pesos”. Should American or United take their cue from Delta’s continuing deconstruction of their mileage program, then many will also bail out of their frequent flyer programs. When will these harebrained airline CEOs stop trying to find ways to shaft their customers? When they lose their last remaining loyal customers?

  7. i was planning on using some DL miles on their partner J awards, but with the recent random and unannounced deval, the only realistic value left is booking domestic saver Level 1 awards 11 months out.

    domestic flat bed (aka D1) awards ? forget about it. even on Thanksgiving Friday morning 8am (when NO ONE flies domestically), DL is asking for minimum 40,000 miles one-way.

  8. Pffffft! After spending a few hours in the KrisFlyer Silver lounge [T2] this past week, I am floored again at the US airlines stinginess. I am a capitalist through and through, but true premium service is apparently incomprehensible to US carriers.

  9. Great, just what I want, folks on my airplane who have consumed a whole bottle of champagne before getting on the flight. I feel quite sure delta will not let you leave the lounge with an opened bottle of champagne.

  10. @Sarah — Well, I’m OK with you as a pax as long as you’ve SPLIT that bottle of champagne with someone. 🙂 Heck, it’s actually not a bad time to drink it. You won’t have to drive for a little a few hours.

  11. Well I use to think skylines were good. And actually used for a few trips. I have been considering instead (as I learn how to nd do hack the singup bonus system) of stashing where ever i can and at the last minute pull them over to the airlines where i need them. My loyalty to the U.S. carriers has gone away just like my loyalty to the U.S. auto companies did. If I have a choice to use an airline like Singapore air vs a domestic carrier I will. But I will use a domestic over Qatar or China Air.

  12. They seem to be considering SkyMiles to be worth 2c each on several things in the SkyClub lately. The “premium beers” (and they were in fact good beers) that were listed for sale if you didn’t want the free Sweetwater or Miller at the ATL B club the other day were listed for $3 cash or 150 SkyMiles, both of which seemed like a pretty good deal.

  13. Can you just exchange sky pesos for a bottle of Krug and then take it home with you instead of having it opened?

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