Delta Raises Roundtrip Europe Business Awards to 164,000 Miles

Last month I asked why people still collect SkyMiles. There has to be some limit to how much programs can devalue their currency.

When Delta rolled back an accidental 3 day advance purchase requirement for all awards not starting or ending in the US or Canada back in January a spokesperson told me I should know that Delta always gives its members notice of changes, so should have assumed the restriction was an error. I stood there, talking on the phone, but felt like I was in a Kurosawa film.

At the end of 2017 Delta started charging 86,000 miles minimum for transatlantic business class awards, but rolled that back to 86,000. Another glitch, one of many.

The price of Delta business class saver awards are no longer fixed, sometimes they charge 100,000 miles each way for saver award travel across the Atlantic. Sometimes they don’t. But even though the increase from 70,000 to 86,000 miles at the end of 2017 was a ‘glitch’ good luck finding transatlantic business class for 70,000 miles anymore.

For instance here’s Boston – London Heathrow one way business class on Delta in early 2019. You’ll see the lowest price ever offered is 82,000 miles — not 70,000 anymore.

Here’s an example saver award for 82,000 miles:

Air France KLM’s Flying Blue will give you the same saver seat on Delta for 56,500 miles:

82,000 won’t always be the Delta saver award price. The price is the price they happen to give you at that moment. And except for low value awards, usually though not always coach tickets in the off season where paid prices are cheap, the cost of awards goes up faster than the price of toilet paper in Venezuela.

Of course if you want to fly a Delta partner, and you probably do, bizarrely you may be able to save miles. Business class on partner airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic when booked far in advance, remains 75,000 miles.

Truly the only reason I care what Delta charges for awards is because other airline executives think people at Delta are smarter, and blindly copy what Delta does. And because higher Delta pricing may make those executives feel they have headroom in their own award pricing.

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 am trying to burn SkyMiles but I lack enough vacation time. I even burn them for domestic economy class….it’s that bad. I have about 200,000 miles to go and am trying to avoid Delta so as not to add more miles. Sad.

  2. 238,900 is the number they should go with. That’s how far it is to the moon in actual miles 🙂

    They could call it the Ralph Kramden award benefit.

  3. I do not collect Delta miles. The only reason I would ever deal with them for rewards that is if there’s a seat to somewhere I want to go and I happen to be able to transfer in points to book it. I understand there are hub captives, but otherwise I can’t imagine why anyone would focus on the program.

  4. I just booked ATL-CDG for 70k one way in late Oct. No other choice if you want non-stop out of ATL.

  5. Have been sitting on 180k skypesos and wish I had spent them years ago when DL had a 75K award for 2 First Class tix to Hawaii. Those were the days. Would, coulda, shoulda.

    In last 10 years I have spent $200k+ on UA and *A carriers, at least 5 figures on AA and OW carriers, and 4 figures each on WN and AS. Almost nil on DL and SkyTeam despite the better operational product. But I must be in the minority given DL’s profits…

  6. I only use Skymiles on partners. I have received very good value from those awards. I don’t go out of my way to accumulate Skymiles, but I find them very easy to get. I did a one way to Asia last year that was only 80,000 miles in DeltaOne and partners. You just have to search more to find the good awards.

  7. I have 120,000 miles from Northwest that converted over to Delta. Their skypesos prices are a joke so I never use them. How can I? 86,000 for one business class seat to Europe is outrageous!
    I really wish they’d allow you to transfer those skymiles to a hotel program like Hyatt that actually has value.

  8. Only 86,000? I looked at RT Delta One for May 2019 and only found 335,000 required! Insane.

  9. I had about 140K miles on Delta a few years ago. I tried to get reward ticket from Boston to Prague for me and my wife. I was almost 2 hours on phone with Delta representative. She gave some options :to me: 1) Go first to Washington DC – oh-you have connection to Prague next day,,,,
    2) Fly to Moscow – ops- you are landing 1 hour after departure Moscow to Prague… You need also Russian visa, ….. 3) Oh, there I have good connection , to some European country, ups – return trip could be not earlier than 3 months after arrival to Prague…Those are only samples of my “OPTIONS” from Delta Air. I decided to get rid of my all DELTA MILES. She gave me two Economy tickets to Krakow, Poland and…. Business tickets on Czechs Airline from Krakow to Prague, I paid for this 45 minutes flight extra 80 K points to get “BUSINESS- separated by dirty blinds from The ECONOMY, identical to my Business. The Delta Agent CONGRATULATED ME TO MY DEAL !!!. I decided never ever in my life fly on DELTA.

  10. I was in their top tier FF, travelling on a full economy ticket, and there were 6 business seats available. I asked if I could use my miles to upgrade at the counter. The airline rep replied: “We aren’t like other airlines. We don’t just upgrade anyone.” That was the last time I flew Delta.

  11. I’m 3/4 of the way to lifetime status on DL and currently have 0 redeemable miles. That’s right, I did it, I burned them all, and will never fly DL again unless I absolutely have to, and even then I’ll dump the miles elsewhere if possible.

    They lost me a long time ago, but every time I read these sorts of articles about them, I chuckle and self-congratulate.

    I just hope that my current chosen carrier, Alaska, stays its course for as long as possible.

    Or I win the lottery and just fly private.

  12. Like Lihong said, ATL captives got no choice. And boy, does it suck. Even if you find a half decent rate, it is never on one of the (many) direct flights, but on some convoluted route that involves 2 stops and a 19 hour trip , starting at 6 a.m.
    I would give anything for a different airline. I’m currently considering switching over to KLM/AF since they have more reasonable redemptions for the SAME flights.
    DL is great about SAYING how much they appreciate their medallion members, but terrible about SHOWING it.

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