Delta Increases the Cost of Some Mileage Awards With No Notice Whatsoever

Over the weekend Delta made some changes to their award chart without any advance notice. And, in fact, there hasn’t even been a notice posted at all — the award chart itself has simply changed.

The price of traditional ‘saver’ awards (“low” in Delta parlance) are unaffected, it’s medium and high coach awards on some routes that are getting more expensive — an increase of 5000 miles roundtrip in those cases.

Here are the specific changes that were made on September 1, without any advance notice:

  • ‘Medium’ level coach awards between the US and Mexico or the Caribbean go from 50,000 to 55,000 miles roundtrip.
  • ‘High’ level coach awards between the US and Mexico or the Caribbean go from 70,000 to 75,000 miles roundtrip.
  • ‘Medium’ level coach awards between the US and Southern South America go from 90,000 to 95,000 miles roundtrip.
  • ‘High’ level coach awards between the US and Southern South America go from 125,000 to 130,000 miles roundtrip.
  • ‘Medium’ level coach awards between the US and Europe go from 90,000 to 95,000 miles roundtrip.
  • ‘High’ level coach awards between the US and Europe go from 125,000 to 130,000 miles roundtrip.
  • ‘High’ level business class awards between the US and Southeast Asia go from 370,000 to 350,000 miles roundtrip

Oddly enough ‘high’ business class between the US and Asia goes down by 20,000 miles.

But 350,000 is still choke-worthy, the equivalent business class high award at United is 300,000 miles and first class roundtrip at the ‘standard’ (United parlance for ‘high’) level is 320,000 miles.

These more expensive awards which “buy out of” capacity controls have gone up in price substantially over the past several years. Some will recall that last seat availability on United in business class to Australia was 150,000 miles roundtrip up until October 2006…

Here, though, it’s not about the specific mileage amounts, however high they may be — and more a concern that Delta chooses to make changes to the prices of its awards without any notice at all, let alone reasonable advance notice.

(HT: Canarsie)

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. maybe they saw this blog and how many people were now getting uber Delta miles from Suntrust debits.
    If I was them I would raise limits too!

  2. It’s been a horrible program for years and will always be
    I can count on disliking them and they always give me reason to do so.One of the reason I delete all their promotional offerings and dont carry their credit card
    is their double and triple miles offers are nothing more than bait and switch. Based on their own business behavior
    Some use a gun and hold you up some run a frequent flyer program named Delta.They won’t murder you at least just rob your wallet

  3. This doesn’t bode well for the future. If the rumored big changes to SkyMiles come true, there had better be some serious advance notice.

  4. They have alway been a ripoff when compared to AA for the route I use most ( lax/bkk/lax) AA is 135k miles rt, $47 fee.

    Delta is 175 k miles each way 270 miles rt and a much higher fee.

  5. @D Wonder: I believe we refer to Delta as a “roving bandit,” not a “stationary bandit.”

  6. Why do you use that worthless mileage program? I could care less if they increase it to 3 million miles.

  7. If I’m ever forced to fly a Skyteam airline, I’m at least going to credit the miles to KLM/AF or Koarean Air.

  8. HT should go to FT member GYEWorldTraveler for posting about it yesterday in the DL forum. The FT blog post and Canarsie post all were up today.

  9. Jason, Delta clearly isnt useless. Gary gave the spoonfeeders a way to clearly see the value of the Skymiles program. Its far from worthless. 350k Delta miles is still 1/10th of the cost of 300k United miles and maybe 70% of the value of United

  10. Delta NO LONGER offers last seat availability even with their “peak” or “high” mile awards.

  11. I assume some people (or companies) who earn large amounts of skypesos choose to redeem at these levels based on ease of earning. I have been dissuaded by Delta’s continual and aggressive deflation. I just credit all Delta flights to Hawaiian.

  12. @Mikey If you’re paying that many miles, the taxes/fees should be roughly the same, as the only way you’d be paying fuel surcharges is if you were on partners. If you were on partners, the mileage rate should be 120K, especially since you’re based out of LAX and can pick up CZ, MU, CI, or KE for the trans-Pacific sector.

  13. Mitch

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll look into it.

    I did use KE for my daughters ticket, ( using ke skymiles from their credit card program) still not such a good deal IMHO, since business class was 137500 miles and just over $300 in “charges”

  14. @Mikey: The taxes/fees will be about the same redeeming through Delta now, but it will be 120K SkyMiles for business from the US to Asia if you do 100% partners. If you can find Delta seats for the low mileage rate in one direction or the other, you could do Korean one way and Delta the other way, which would reduce the fuel surcharge component, since Delta won’t collect the fuel surcharge for its own flights.

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