Devalued AGAIN: Delta Just Increased the Price of Business Class Awards to Israel Without Notice

Delta business class saver awards between the US and Israel were 70,000 miles each way. Effective November 1, those same saver awards go up to 85,000 miles each way. That’s an increase of 30,000 miles roundtrip. Delta snuck this one in, without any advance warning to members and indeed without telling members at all.

Two months ago Delta made changes to the price of several international awards for travel October 1 onward. You’d think one devaluation in the first quarter of 2016 would be enough for the SkyMiles program, but that would be wrong.

Despite eliminating award charts, Delta does have an award chart. There is saver award inventory (all partner awards are saver awards), and the price of awards is fixed when it’s available. Delta just doesn’t publish the chart of prices any longer.

Delta used to refuse to give advance notice when making changes to that chart (going so far as to preposterously claim it was illegal to do so). Now they do not even give notice once they’ve already made changes.

The award calendar shows the lowest one-way price for New York JFK – Tel Aviv in business class as 70,000 miles up through October 31. Often availability is on Aeroflot.

Starting November 1, the lowest award price — and this is the saver price, because it’s the price when space is available on partner airlines — is 85,000 miles.

This isn’t just a case where no saver awards are available, and Delta is pricing at ‘level 2’ pricing. Here’s “O” (saver business class award) inventory in November on partner airline Aeroflot, pricing at 85,000 miles.

Delta wants to go revenue-based on redemptions, but revenue-based redemptions are transparent. You have points worth a certain dollar amount. Here you have no idea what awards are going to cost, and they aren’t even tied to price. They’ll tell you your points are like money, and the price changes day to day, but with money you can buy tickets from Delta or United or American. And you can buy toothpaste.

The value of your money is reasonably fixed and transparent, at least you know when there’s inflation. Delta won’t even publish inflation statistics. That’s the worst kind of money, like you find in unstable third world dictatorships.

Delta’s new program doesn’t ‘reward high spenders more’ as they’d like members to believe because they don’t reward anyone more than they used to or more than major competitor programs do. But the biggest problem SkyMiles faces is their trust deficit.

You don’t get information to understand what miles are worth, and when they make changes Delta doesn’t play straight with what they’re doing with your miles or how that will affect you. The lack of an announcement underscores that. Delta makes changes, without (any) enough information for members to understand what those changes are or mean, and the airline’s position is that’s all the information anyone deserves to get.

SkyMiles seems to me to be a rigged game. It used to not matter — awards cost more miles but it was easy to earn SkyMiles — you could pay twice the miles for an award as another program when you were earning two or three times as many miles compared to other programs. The earning advantage is no longer there.

(HT: Ron F.)

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’ve seen business class to TLV for sub $3,000 a few times in the last year. No travel to mother Russia necessary. At 170,000 miles roundtrip, it’s hard to justify 1.7 cents a mile AT MOST. Would rather use a different credit card.

  2. I burnt all my SkyPesos when they took down their award chart. I don’t trust Delta and this just confirms it yet again.

  3. I once had 4,000,000 Skymiles; now I have less than 10,000. Burned for business class tix to JNB 6X, AMS 2x, LHR 2x, and CDG 2x – 2 tickets each time over the past 3-4 years.
    No more loyalty to Delta for me – my future travel is all AA.

  4. Gary,
    If Delta (or anyone for that matter) “just doesn’t publish the chart of prices any longer”, why should they be expected to give notice of a change?

  5. What you might not have noticed is that prices sometimes go down and up and down for some markets. Also don’t forget that sometimes the pay with miles option available to Delta Amex card holders has better than award prices.

  6. I live in Atlanta but I still manage to avoid flying Delta by flying Southwest, American and United. This devaluation of Delta will be the end of them

  7. Delta is basically showing Skymiles holders the middle finger. Its OK to do what makes Delta more money, but when they go overboard and treat their FF’s with such contempt it will come back to bite them. It looks like someone in Delta is on a huge power trip, doing things to mess with their FFs just because they can.
    Creating ill will with a company’s customers is never a good thing and what they are doing makes no sense.

  8. Delta is a joke. Not that redemptions to TLV are an “efficient” use of miles given the low fares and relatively long stage length, on principle this bad. Yes DL can do whatever they want but passengers can also do whatever we want and say “F’ No” to BS.

  9. Delta SkyRubles are basically worthless. You should have already known that.

  10. Delta might be a joke but they are the most profitable airline. As a shareholder I say great!!

  11. @Rich in terms of absolute profits and also margins American has been beating Delta, because Delta’s fuel costs have been so much higher. So much for a refinery. They hedged at prices that were way too high. With the hedges mostly behind them your claim should be true in the future…

  12. Muahahaha! Didn’t all of you already know, DL SM is….

    * mejor en su clase *

    And Gary how can you suggest there was no notice from DL of any and all devaluations/stealth/removal of consumer-facing info? There has been plenty of notice. In fact, there has been almost SEVEN YEARS of notice. I know this because Jeff Robbo-style, he told us in 2009 in SkyMag and on those billboards at LAX T5…. the printed materials stated, exactly that DL SM was and would be:

    *mejor en su clase*

    Indubitably, IT IS!

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