Delta SkyMiles Devalues Again In The Pettiest Way Possible

As if Delta SkyMiles couldn’t become even more of a dumpster fire than it was before the pandemic, they used the opportunity when no one was looking to absolutely torch the value of their miles for travel on partner airlines.

Travel between the U.S and Europe was 75,000 miles each way in business class in September 2020. Then they raised the price to 120,000 miles each way, a 60% increase. Delta raised the price of Los Angeles – Southeast Asia to 165,000 miles one-way in business class. In contrast American Airlines will charge you 140,000 miles roundtrip.

Perhaps afraid that someone somewhere actually flying the airline might get value from the SkyMiles program they’ve now devalued even using Skypesos in Delta Air Lines Sky Clubs as well.

As first reported by One Mile at a Time, spending points for alcohol in their clubs has gotten 30% more expensive.

SkyMiles used to be good for purchase of premium alcoholic beverages in their lounges at a value of 2 cents per mile against their menu pricing. Now they’ve reduced the value of miles to 1.5 cents apiece.

Sure, that’s better than you’ll usually get redeeming miles for travel, but alcohol sales can be higher margin plus when you are buying alcohol in the club you aren’t drinking their free alcohol so they’re saving money, too. Put another way, expect to spend about 30% more miles than before for a nice drink in their clubs.

Delta Sky Club Bar, Austin

This is hardly a belt-tightening exercise for the SkyMiles program, it’s so profitable they were able to raise $9 billion in liquidity against it last year. The program is generating $4 billion a year and growing from American Express alone.

The plan to devalue the program should come as no surprise. When raising cash they told investors – and the SEC – that this was exactly the kind of “flexibiltiy” that they had.

In 2019, 97% of redemptions were on Delta allowing the flexibiltiy to manage costs by modifying inventory levels and value….SkyMiles can adjust the redemption value of mile based on demand on any given day, for example, by reducing the redemption value on a peak demand day prior to a holiday.

We’ve come to expect the value of a SkyMile to be on a continued downward trajectory, as it’s headed consistently over the past 15 years. But do they have to rub salt in the wounds of members that are pouring a nice drink to drown their sorrows in the Sky Club, too?

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. What is less valuable than Sky Pesos? Time to rename them
    Sky Crud Points?Look at the upside At least their non vaccinated employees are contributing 200 a month to the CEOs bottom line and their Golden parachutes.
    And if they double yet again redemption costs with another massive devaluation they can give 100k sign up offers on their credit card like candy
    Avoid them like the plague and their horrific alliance with no inventory which they never contribute to their partners.I will always be One World and Star A even as bad as they are they are still reasonable compared whenever compared to Delta the worst managed airline in American History of a legacy carrier

  2. I had a Delta FF account back in the 90’s. Forgot all about it, and flew a ton of AA (followed by a change to UA) with WN being a constant too. Well, a few years ago I was booked on a Delta flight and I thought I’d better just get some credit. Turns out, they wouldn’t let me set up a new account – because they remembered the old one – nor would the assist me in being able to use and update the old account. Absolutely useless (as are the miles, apparently). If, in the future, I need to fly a SkyTeam airline, I intend to create a Flying Blue account via KLM/AF and use that.

  3. Classic Delta. I’d been using miles drinking McCallan 12 in the Skyclub instead of the house Scotch. SkyPesos are almost useless for flying now unless it’s a random 6am flight on a Tue.

  4. I am not a frequent flyer but I have flown delta plenty of times. No big concerns regarding the planes and service. There are huge price fluctuations in tickets, which is the norm for everyone. Given the ongoing/continuous and repetitive Skymiles devaluations, I burned almost all my miles on some business class tickets on their(then) new delta one cabins to Asia. I definitely don’t retreat that. It was 80k one way person. Last time I tried to even find similar award redemptions, I was seeing high six figures for the same flights. I have a very small amount of miles now in my account that I keep for their occasional flash award sales (which can actually be good, like a recent roundtrip sale to Lima from the US for like 15k miles). However I have moved on to Alaska or united mainly for partner award redemptions.

  5. I love SkyMiles. I usually burn them for AeroMexico J or off season Europe in Y for friends.

    No issues.

  6. And yet, everyone in the blog realm continues to pimp the Sky Miles credit cards. Maybe if you would stop selling crack to addicts, Delta would bring value back to Sky Miles.

  7. So as DL were the only ones with sensible pricing to Europe when I booked in June I got a status match challenge from AA and off we went.

    Never much flown them before as my prior employers and current one are AA / UA corporate contracts.

    It’s been great. Friendly service, Comfort + upgrades all round for this family of 4.

    A pleasant summer of flying 8 legs and MQM 27000 miles.

    The pesos may have limited value but others indicate you can get to Europe for ski season on them.

  8. Not all that long ago Delta ran a big ad campaign asking something like “What has your frequent flier program done for you lately?”. Now they could make it “What has your frequent flier program done to you lately?”

  9. when Delta is willing to give the companion of a Silver Medallion unlimited, complimentary upgrade access to its first class cabin and treats ATL-CHA on a CR9 the same as a flat bed A330 on JFK-LAX with respect to that access, it’s not hard to see how they balance the program out in other areas.

    in other words, there is no free lunch.

  10. @dwondermeant – “What is less valuable than Sky Pesos? Time to rename them”

    How about Sky Bolivars? The Venezuelan bolivar is, I believe, the world’s weakest circulating currency.

  11. @stogieguy7: same exact experience here, had a Delta account from late ’80s, had been flying UA for a number of years and some changes in my schedule were going to send me into ATL a few times a year. Tried to update my info on the Delta account and ran into the same customer service issues so I said screw it, just connect via UA and never looked back. I read about these 100k+ redemptions on Delta, just booked a RT flight for my daughter to Europe for 60k with MP.

    @FNT Delta Diamond: completely agree, blogs like this one love the clicks through to the card offers, airlines love the miles given thinking these people are actually going to fly them, banks love them thinking people will actually become customers. Creates worthless miles floating around and they know people need to burn them before expiration so they spend, spend, spend. Consumerism 101.

  12. Am glad that DL is investing in great service and IFE instead of some pseudo-currency. Kudos to DL for doing so.

  13. Nobody says “thanks for your business” quote like Delta, with a big FU but hey at least they waive a gay pride flag and care about their “people.” But of course that doesn’t mean customers, who bought seats without middle seats only to find a broken promise/contract and nobody to own that fail. Losers in pretty clothes. Scum scum scum

  14. Utterly useless trash. 120,000 miles, minimum, to get across the ocean in business class. It’s one step above organized crime.

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