Delta Publishes An Award Sale That’s Offensive To Frequent Flyers Everywhere

Delta is running a SkyMiles award sale on business class roundtrips to Europe during winter when no one wants to go there. They’re promoting several deals from my home town of Austin, like Rome for only 369,000 miles, Lisbon for just 345,000 miles. That is for one ticket.

And they appear to be serious. And you have to book by December 9 to take advantage of these special prices.

Austin, TX (AUS) Dublin, Ireland (DUB) Feb 07 – Feb 15, 2022 148,000miles + $47.17
Austin, TX (AUS) Barcelona, Spain (BCN) Jan 19 – Jan 27, 2022 148,000miles + $65.07
Austin, TX (AUS) Madrid, Spain (MAD) Jan 13 – Jan 21, 2022 148,000miles + $56.37
Austin, TX (AUS) Milan-Malpensa, Italy (MXP) Jan 11 – Jan 19, 2022 359,000miles + $58.87
Austin, TX (AUS) Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH) Feb 06 – Feb 14, 2022 148,000miles + $66.37
Austin, TX (AUS) Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) Jan 19 – Jan 27, 2022 148,000miles + $70.17
Austin, TX (AUS) Rome, Italy (FCO) Jan 13 – Jan 21, 2022 369,000miles + $73.37
Austin, TX (AUS) Paris-De Gaulle, France (CDG) Feb 03 – Feb 11, 2022 148,000miles + $155.87
Austin, TX (AUS) Lisbon, Portugal (LIS) Feb 28 – Mar 08, 2022 345,000miles + $64.67
Austin, TX (AUS) Munich, Germany (MUC) Jan 10 – Jan 18, 2022 148,000miles + $133.67

Judge Judy has a message for you, Delta:

SkyMiles has been a laggard currency for a long time. I coined the term SkyPesos way back in 2009. They don’t publish an award chart anymore – imagine what it would look like if they consider these awards to be discounted off of regular price.

Delta is a perfectly fine airline. Their employees are marginally friendlier than those at United or American. They have a history in recent years of being more operationally reliable. And they have more or less a lock on business in Atlanta, Salt Lake City and the Upper Midwest. They’ve been able to consistently devalue their currency without undermining their profitability – in a way that deluded other airlines into thinking they could accomplish the same feat (it hasn’t worked out as well for most).

I’m just surprised they have the audacity to publish award prices like this and tell members these represent good deals. Surely they must think we’re all just Imperial Storm Troopers.

Update: The Gate highlights a 425,000 mile roundtrip award that’s part of this ‘sale’.

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 like this blog, but the anti-Delta bias is pretty strong here and getting worse

    – Simply ignore the 300K+ redemptions as no one who redeems Skymiles books those
    – “Regular price” for transatlantic business class is 210K round trip, so worse than peers, but we all know that
    – 148K redemptions are in line with current prices for transatlantic business class bookings at AA And US (effectively 70K to 75K each way)
    – Most people redeem SkyMiles for domestic, where they get 1.2 to 1.4 cents or so on a regular basis, basically in-line with valuations
    – Most people earn SkyMiles as they engage with the airline for domestic flying (including spending on cards to earn MQM) and get a good experience – so the miles are a byproduct
    – SkyClubs are regarded better than Admirals Clubs and United Clubs and drive a lot of business for Delta ticket
    – All of these redemptions earn elite qualification miles through 2022, which is unique to Delta
    – If Delta was so bad, they wouldn’t have such strong performance in New York and Boston, where they compete hand in hand with United, American, Jet Blue and others – so their success is not just due to captive hubs

    The fact of the matter is that these are market rate redemptions for Europe and a good use of SkyMiles at the 148K level, which is all people should book. That should have been your message

  2. Twelve years after coining the term Sky Pesos, I think you really shouldn’t be offended anymore. Time to let it go.

  3. Why not use miles to book economy or premium economy since Delta global upgrade certificate can be applied to award tickets? I would also check the cash prices because using the “pay with miles” feature might be better than spending 250,000 or 400,000 miles (whatever it is) on an award ticket.

  4. Just checked – from JFK, there is broad availability at the *actual* sale price (which is 148K round trip, 74K each way, not the 300K or 425K prices you cite) to a number of European destinations (LHR, CDG, AMS, MXP, etc) through early April. March is one of the best times to go to Europe. If you have SkyMiles, and many do given how many people actually pay for flights on the airline every day, these are good values. Are they as good as they were a few years ago, when the sale price was about 100K round trip – no, but everyone else has inflated as well

  5. Validates what most of us have been saying about the 80K – 100K bonus miles that come with credit card offers.

  6. Brutus is correct, someone is foolish enough to think their points have value or they are just that convenient to what someone needs. Delta just does not appear to care. I don’t know why, but I still have a Delta Credit card I have not used in several years. I guess I was hoping they would change. I use the heck out of my United and chase cards to the tens of thousands and even my American Card which with their recent changes will see significant added use next year.

  7. I think most folks who have enough miles/points to pay for these “bargain” award tickets are savvy enough to know there’s no bargain here.

  8. FNT Delta Diamond – you get about 2 cents per mile with these awards at a minimum (most people redeem in the low 1 cent range), sometimes 4 or 5 cents. Again, the sale price is 74K miles each way, and the redemptions earn MQM. I have one booked and may book two more on a speculative basis.

  9. The term “Sky Peso” is being generous. I call them Sky-Turds.
    I have flushed Delta down the toilet where they belong.

  10. How generous of the Delta Santa home of the true evil stingy rotten Scrooge

    Screw the customer F em bleed them
    Best Regards
    Your friends @ Delta

  11. After a dozen failed attempts on line (kept cycling me back to select flights after clicking confirm), and over an hour on the phone I finally did secure 2 one way business tickets LAX – TLV via LHR on Virgin Atlantic for 85,000 points and about $45 each. NTB considering I can now cancel same itinerary using KLM that had set me back 110,000 points and over $250 each. Not sure what the time it took translates into an hourly wage.

    Not sure, but I suspect the flights were sold out, but web site not updated, then protracted delay on the phone may have been Delta negotiating with Virgin Atlantic yield management to release additional seats

  12. Gary – I don’t understand how 85K LAX to TLV one way is a “good award” while 74K from LAX to ZRH one way in March (which I found with one search with this Delta sale) is somehow terrible

  13. I agree it’s offensive to frequent flyers who accrue Delta skymiles *only* through butt-in-seat flying. However, earning Delta Skymiles are SO MUCH EASIER nowadays with portals, cc signup bonuses, etc. to the point that 150k roundtrip in J is not that bad.
    If Delta skymiles is worth 1 penny per mile, then 150k miles is $1500…. which is a good deal for a roundtrip cash fare from North America to Europe.

  14. @Joey, LOL no it’s not. If you’re earning Delta miles through portals or any third party you’re literally throwing money away. Delta should be the last resort for accruing miles through any third party since they have the lowest value. AA, United, Southwest or even Jetblue points are worth more.

  15. @Anthony – I did not say that. 74k one way business to europe is certainly ‘good for delta’ it shouldn’t require a sale though.

  16. I only use miles to fly business class outside the US. I never use Delta miles on Delta, too expensive. Instead I fly on partner airlines.

  17. Using AS MP awards, have Biz class on Finnair with a stopover in HEL before ongoing to BCN – 70K/pp. #winning

  18. I normally credit my DL flying to Flying Blue. AF and KLM usually have some 55K business class one-way fares (though those have gotten less lately)

  19. I honestly don’t understand the gnashing of teeth over this. Yes, there is “inflation” but I am still picking up a basically “free” trip to Paris in March for 148,000 miles. Seems OK to me.

  20. I find not only SkyMiles “sales” ridiculous, but so are the actual dollar-based prices to be an insult.
    I recently checked ATL-LIS in DeltaOne, it was over $14,000 r/t. At the same time, Basic Economy was on sale for under $600 r/t. This makes no sense whatsoever. Who in his right mind would pay $14K to go to Portugal in the middle of pandemic?

  21. That’s the price of all the bonuses that are given. Those miles / cc points aren’t dished out for free

  22. I think it’s funny that the Delta loyal are making comments comparing this discount sale to regular award prices on competitors. “Oh 148k isn’t so bad it’s almost down to the 70k each way on other airlines” Funny. I want to love Delta and even have Skyteam status but I’m not building up miles in Delta.

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