Delta Will Eliminate Stopovers on Awards in January

This is my best read and advice, not something that Delta has officially confirmed, just something I believe they have tipped their hand on.

Delta rolled out IT changes that caused stopovers not to price correctly a couple of days ago. Adding a stopover in Europe on a business class award cost 50,000 miles more than a roundtrip.

Instead of 125,000 miles, stopping in Paris instead of just connecting there was 175,000 miles:

It turns out that Delta didn’t mean to eliminate stopovers. Their IT just started charging more now.

But there’s no indication they plan to fix the IT, they’ve just sent a memo to agents telling them stopovers are still permitted and that over the phone you can get awards manually priced (the real trick will be finding an agent who is aware of the memo and knows how to proceed, and I’ve never had a Delta agent that’s been able to manually price an award.. ever).

I get why Delta wouldn’t want to fix the IT. The change means they’re charging more miles for awards. That’s consistent with how Delta has approached pricing in the past. Higher prices seem to be a feature, not a bug.

We know that:

  • One-way awards are going to be available starting in January.
  • Some airlines do not allow stopovers when they allow one-way awards.
  • Delta rolled out IT that does not allow stopovers for free on one-way awards.
  • Delta appears to be leaving those IT changes in place.

That leads me to conclude that it’s the IT they want to have in place, they’ve just tipped their hand two months early.

I am firmly convinced that Delta’s new award program that starts January will charge extra for stopovers, in other words one-way awards will not allow free stopovers, a stopover will mean an extra one-way award.

That’s the sort of thing that Delta should announce in advance and not spring on customers.

But then Delta still has not even released its 2015 award chart for travel that does not either start or end in North America. And they had to be shamed into releasing the award chart for North America.

Every time I think that I might be somehow, even a little bit, unfair to Delta they remind me that I’m probably too kind.


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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. And how many stopovers do you get on AA….????

    Look forward to being on UA and DL next year while all the lemmings fly to AA and fight for upgrades and awards.

  2. @Greg – YI’m not suggesting the sky is falling with Skymiles with the elimination of stopovers. (Some might say the sky has, for all intents, already fallen.) I think it’s important for people to know what’s coming in a program they accumulate miles in, which is why if Delta won’t tell its members I’ll do my best to read what’s next.

  3. Not sure why you say “Delta rolled out IT that does not allow stopovers for free on one-way awards.” The example you next give is for a R/T award, which is also pricing higher. The offset Delta is making for offering one-way awards is no free stopovers period.

    You and Lucky were saying that Delta’s program was starting to look better. They didn’t want to endanger their Sky Pesos reputation.

    And I don’t buy that this was accidental. Once again they started something early with no notice. When they got pushback on it, their attorneys said to still offer the old terms, but to make it as difficult as possible to get it approved.

    Anyone who doesn’t know about the “memo” will figure they just lost out. Only the most knowledgeable and aggressive will still get this type of award for the next few months.

    Reading VFTW, priceless… 🙂

  4. As a non-native English speaker I recommend that you revisit your high school English class. You obviously have no clue about the meaning of WILL. I stopped reading your sensational headline after the first sentence.
    Stop raping your native tongue.

  5. Gary:
    Do you know if Delta still allows stopovers on Domestic Round trip awards provided its on the routing in 2015? I redeemed a 25,000 mile award (LAX-JFK-SAV-LAX) and would like to do a similar trip next year? Thanks.

  6. Tough crowd today. 🙁

    I too disagree with the word “will”, but for a different reason. You already cannot get a free stopover with an online booking. To try to get it via the phone, you have to know about the memo, and most Delta FFers won’t know about it. Finally, that may not even make a difference, since as you say: “I’ve never had a Delta agent that’s been able to manually price an award.. ever”. Coming from someone who’s had an award booking service for years, that’s pretty major.

    Based on the above, I’m not sure the January part even applies. You might well have been justified using this for a title: Delta Has For All Intents And Purposes Eliminated Stopovers On Awards.

  7. Gary, per your own comment:

    @Kelly not my intention at all, I explain in the post why it is almost certain that delta WILL do this.

    You mentioned “almost” in your comment, yet your title makes it sound that this is confirmed news. Not a good practice in my book. Then again, I am just one reader.

    Think about it – you are signing a contract which says “You will get 1 million dollars in January for investing 500K with us today”. In the terms and conditions is buried a statement “the investment house is almost certain that you will get a million dollars”. Isn’t there a big difference between the two things?

  8. @Steve T – it still appears possible to redeem stopovers on domestic awards, we do not know whether that will remain in place for 2015. if i were to guess i would guess no, but that’s just a guess.

  9. @KP Not sure I follow your example. Doubling one’s investment in a few months is something that any reasonable person would have serious reason to doubt.

    But Delta has already removed the ability to book a free international stopover online, and stated they are not putting that back.

    What possible reason could they have to make that impossible online, and yet intend to keep it going thru a very sketchy phone reservations system? Every other airline is doing all they can to move award reservations online, to reduce their costs for phone aents. I seriously doubt Delta just decided “lets greatly increase our phone reservations workload”.

  10. @Robert – My example was only meant to justify that saying somethign “will happen” vs saying something is “almost certain to happen” are two completely different things. Miles are also currency, the only difference being they are proprietary and not usable/exchangeable freely on the open market.

    It is quite possible that Delta will officially announce this as a change to the Skymiles program, but until that time a title like this was unwarranted. Gary can very well say he believes this will definitely happen, which would be fine.

  11. With any other business you would at least have the opportunity to obtain redress in the courts, but with airlines the Supreme Court has taken that ability completely away from individuals. Airlines can act short of killing you on the aircraft (and even there they are often protected from harsh judgments) with almost complete immunity from prosecution and punishment. With no competition there is no longer any consumer redress in the domestic airline market. Why do we have to wait soo long for fair competition in the airline industry when every other industry has to compete in a open and fair marketplace. If Delta so despises the Export Import bank well then let them compete with foreign carriers domestically then. Have at it Delta with your 25 year old planes against the newer international competition any day please

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