Delta SkyMiles eliminated award charts. They charge you whatever they happen to want to charge you for a flight on a given day. SkyMiles aren’t like money, you can’t spend them anywhere you want (say for travel on American). It’s a company town, SkyMiles are their scrip, and they make no promises about what you should expect to get for your points in the future with a published price list.
Delta charges as much as 100,000 miles one way for business class between the US and Europe on Delta at the saver level. Just four years ago the price was 100,000 miles roundtrip. In practice your SkyMiles are worth about one cent.
US airline executives copy Delta because they believe Delta executives are smarter than they are. Neither United nor American though has so far eliminated award charts, although American has unpublished price levels.
When United announced plans to devalue their award chart in mid-2017 they emphasized that they still had such charts, a jab at Delta. And while they said that the price of Standard or extra miles awards would vary, they published a maximum price.
Is United making moves towards eliminating their award charts, though, just a year and a half later?
In October they removed the .pdf award chart from their website. That’s the grid that shows you all of their prices by region. I’ve saved it for posterity.
They still have an interactive price tool where you enter where you’re flying from and to and they spit out prices, but there’s no longer a grid showing all prices in one place.
The grid used to show upgrade prices, the interactive tool does not. Delta of course is moving to upselling with miles (where you pay miles instead of cash). Removing upgrades from the price tool would be a necessary step to copy Delta.
United’s Premium Plus is their international premium economy product and it’s now on sale for international flights starting March 30. You can redeem MileagePlus miles for premium economy, but premium economy pricing isn’t included in the interactive chart.
I pointed out to United that premium economy award prices aren’t included in their interactive chart, and asked if they plan to update the chart with premium economy pricing — or bring back a page with a pricing grid the way they’ve had for decades so that members don’t have to look up prices region-by-region?
I was told you can see what premium economy awards cost when you search for them:
We are excited to offer our members the ability to use their miles for awards and upgrades in Premium Plus. We are continuing to update our booking processes, and while we don’t currently have an award chart available for Premium Plus, customers can find a 30-day calendar view on United.com that lists available award fares.
Of course since you’re unlikely to find a saver award for premium economy — or a saver award for business class on a United flight offering premium economy — this may all be moot. And they say you should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by United Airlines bungling.
However United President Scott Kirby has said he beleives if the airline increases service he’ll sell more credit cards, that it isn’t a matter of how good the product is that he’s selling United will still get its ‘natural share’. Customers will be active in MileagePlus as long as they’re flying the airline.
So will United be next to follow Delta’s lead eliminating award charts?
[…] For months now it’s been apparent that United has been making changes and fiddling around with award pricing to destinations all throughout their network. Looking at the example above (sampled 2/20/2019), you will find FOUR difference mileage award requirements for flights to the same destination departing from the same starting point. This wouldn’t have been the case in year’s past. You could have looked up your trusty United Award chart to determine whether the prices would have been a Saver or an Anytime award (UA’s last Award Chart). Although, a few months ago Gary Leff of View From The Wing asked: Is United in the Process of Eliminating Award Charts? […]