As first reported by One Mile at a Time and covered by The Points Guy and MileCards, Delta has made changes to its secret award chart for travel starting October 1. Only they haven’t bothered to tell anyone about it.
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 any longer. They 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.
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.
As of October 1, international business class awards get more expensive:
- Asia business class goes from 70,000 to 80,000 each way
- Southern South America business class goes from 62,500 to 75,000 each way
- Southern Africa business class goes from 80,000 to 95,000 each way
- Mid-Africa business class goes from 70,000 to 80,000 each way
- Australia/New Zealand goes from 80,000 to 95,000 each way
And economy awards get less expensive:
- Middle East goes from 40,000 to 35,000 each way
- Souther Africa goes from 50,000 to 40,000 each way
- Mid-Africa goes from 40,000 to 35,000 each way
- Australia/New Zealand goes from 50,000 to 45,000 each way
There are changes to non-U.S. award charts as well.
Remember that these are minimum prices. And while partner awards are always priced at the minimum (subject to Delta’s unpublished routing rules or IT errors which can make them more expensive, but since prices and rules aren’t published you can’t really challenge), Delta flights are very much not.
The Biggest Problem With SkyMiles is the Trust Deficit
Delta’s new program doesn’t reward high spenders more 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 announcementhere just reifies that message in spades. 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. The earning advantage is no longer there. I continued to earn Delta miles through the Suntrust debit card, but that’s no longer a viable option.
The best SkyMiles advice may be from the conclusion of the Matthew Broderick film War Games.