Delta Increases Price of International Business Class Awards

Delta just dropped a new award chart with increased mileage costs for some international business class routes – the award chart is live now and applies to travel from June 1, 2014 onward. (Travel prior to that date should price at the older levels.)

For instance,

  • US-Europe in business class goes from 100,000 to 125,000 miles roundtrip
  • US-Asia in business class goes from 120,000 to 140,000 miles roundtrip
  • US-Australia in business class goes from 150,000 to 160,000 miles roundtrip
  • US-South Africa in business class goes from 140,000 to 160,000 miles

They say the need for the change is because their product is so good.

In June 2014, we will be the only U.S. carrier to offer full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access in Business Class across our entire wide-body fleet.

Except… except… United is already fully flat on all of their long haul even if their legacy 777s do not offer all aisle access. Are we really paying a 25% premium because of that?

The bulk of the US Airways fleet is configured that way.

And the US-Australia awards are mostly booked at the low level on Virgin Australia which has not altered its product.

And mileage pricing has never been about quality of product, the entire reason that Delta moved to a three-tiered redemption product in the first place was to better tie redemption costs to the price of award tickets.

They also announced that effective September 9 they will no long offer to put awards on hold prior to ticketing — all awards will have to be issued immediately, and can be cancelled for 24 hours.

This is especially problematic because the Delta website offers so few airline partners, and doesn’t price things correctly or even correctly complete reservations much of the time. So you put part of what you want on hold and play agent roulette until you find one who knows who their airline partners are and how to book those seats.

Bonus takeaway: Adjustments to their award chart suggest to me that their IT systems are not yet ready for the roll out of revenue-based redemptions. They wanted a stop gap in place because whatever the new redemption program will look like isn’t ready to be announced, and most likely that’s driven by implementation issues.

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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. I don’t think the Delta award chart really matters, since many people report paying through the nose when using their Delta miles.

    Delta is just teasing us with their ‘suggestions’.

  2. What a joke of an airline… I redeemed my miles for a trip to NZ on VA and I will never fly Delta again. Even if they are cheaper on certain routes… simply NO MORE DELTA EVER.

  3. All the more reasons AS is better. I don’t think DL will have a lot of leeway in forcing AS to increase the levels because DL refuses to let AS allow their members book one way awards on DL. AS gave DL that, time for DL to give something back to AS.

  4. Ouch!!!! I was just about to book 4 BC tickets to Greece so the increase is 100,000 miles for me. Unless there is an AMEX transfer bonus soon (unlikely) it looks like we will do OW one way and *A one way.

  5. The term “sky pesos” seems to be generous at this point. So glad that I redeemed all my Delta pesos a couple months ago.

  6. @elteetrav: perhaps a better comparison would be to the now dead Zimbabwean dollar? Unfortunately, it doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as “skypesos”

  7. I wonder how long till the dominos fall and the other airlines match, especially the 125k C to Europe. Luckily, AA and US are distracted by the merger mess at the moment.

  8. +1 Glenn. I think the bigger story here is how long it will take for the useful redemption programs (UA/AA/US etc.) to match. This is very bad news.

  9. If this means that DL stops blocking AF business class availability for travel after 5/31/2014, I’m all for it. It is nice to see Delta actually giving advance notice (well, sort of, in that you can still book tickets for travel prior to 6/1/2014 at the old levels). And, as you point out, it is excellent to see updated award tables rather then a revenue-based model!

  10. Most of those increases are frustrating/annoying/crappy but still tolerable. A 25% increase for business to Europe is pretty painful though.

    I also agree that United will match this within a month.

  11. Does this mean if you want to redeem on Skyteam partners with Skypesos it now is also bumped to these levels?

  12. My decision to pre-empt devaluation by spending 67.5k UA miles each way for First Class to Europe is looking better and better. I knew the window of opportunity was closing, but I didn’t expect it to close so quickly.

  13. This is just too much. I would be furious at Delta if I were paying for any of this. As it is, this will force me to make an additional trip a week to Walmart to make up the difference.

    Life used to be so simple. But now……..

  14. @Gary — Do you think September 9 may be the launch date for revenue-based domestic awards? If the pricing will be dynamic, it makes sense that you wouldn’t be able to place them on hold.

  15. @asr, AS award chart for DL was, and has always been, lower than most of DL’s international premium cabin levels… Right now US-SYD is 105K, US-Europe is 90K, US to Deep South America is 90K, etc. I doubt they will adjust to match what DL charges its members.

  16. Why are people flying Delta and then complaining? You know what you get and if you fly with them, you must like it. Personally I dislike that airline, the fake and ghetto ATL hub, the snowy and frigid MSP hub, the planes, the management, the mileage program.

    A detestable business !

  17. Being in IT I don’t see what kind of issue they may have with the implementation of the revenue-based awards. They already have pricing engine in place. All they need to do is assign a dollar value to a mile and multiply. I wonder – maybe they decided against going the revenue-based way?

  18. Much to my amazement, this weekend,I was able to get a business class ticket for November to Europe for 100,000 sky pesos from the US gateway. To get the this gateway Delta wanted another 80,000 sky pesos or I could buy a ticket for about $125.

  19. @steve – Miracles do happen with DL. I was able to snatch 2 transatlantic business class tickets this July at the low level, even from a non-gateway city connecting via ATL. Got them about two weeks before the beginning of the trip. A part of it is that I put considerably more effort searching DL availability as I look to unload their miles first.

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