Delta SkyMiles is at it again. They’ve raised the price of award travel on their partner airlines with no one looking. They’ve done it by a lot. And they’ve done it after just raising award prices in October. During a global pandemic when awards should be easier and cheaper to get than ever. In fact Delta is now charging more than double what United and American charge for the best awards in many cases.
In October, in the midst of the global pandemic, Delta devalued SkyMiles. They increased the cost of awards on partner airlines – by a lot. For instance,
- One way business class between the US and Europe on Air France and KLM went from 75,000 to 95,000 miles
- Virgin Atlantic JFK – London Heathrow went from 86,000 to 95,000 miles, but booked 21-60 days prior to departure rose to 170,000 miles one-way and less than 3 weeks to departure all the way to 195,000 miles
- Korean Air and China Airlines one-way business class between the US and North Asia went from 85,000 to 102,500 miles one way
- Coach awards went up too – from 25,000 miles one way between the U.S. and Europe on partners to 35,000 miles and from 32,500 miles each way between the U.S. and North Asia on partners up to 40,000 miles.
It was perplexing to be raising the cost of awards on partner airlines, which are only available at the saver level (excess space that’s likely to go unsold), and when costs to Delta aren’t rising. In fact for many destinations airfares have rarely been so low, though there are of course exceptions like Australia which is limiting the number of passengers who can travel there each day.
The only thing that seems to make sense is that,
- Delta has to spend money when a member redeems points for travel on a partner, and this was about conserving cash
- And they figured who’s paying attention to international travel award prices when so many countries won’t allow travel anyway? In other words, they could devalue your miles under cover of darkness.
Well it looks like this strategy was just too tempting because they’ve done it again a mere three months later.
Here’s a snapshot of new one-way partner business class award prices:
- US – Europe now starts at 120,000 SkyMiles
- US – North Asia now starts at 120,000 miles
- US – India now starts at 120,000 miles
- US – Southeast Asia now starts at 165,000 miles
These are one way prices, not roundtrip. Oddly, US – Mideast or Africa appears to remain 115,000 miles roundtrip even when you’re flying via Europe. (For now, at least.)
Seriously, US-Europe was 75,000 miles each way in business class in September. Now it’s 120,000 miles each way, a 60% increase.
Delta will charge you 165,000 miles one-way for Los Angeles – Bangkok on partners in business class, while American Airlines will charge you 140,000 miles roundtrip. What are the folks at 1030 Delta Blvd thinking?
I’ve tried to think of reasons that Delta’s move could possibly make sense, at a time when they need to bring back their loyal customers more than ever. The closest thing to logic I’ve been able to come up with is that Delta just has United Airlines envy since United devalued MileagePlus three times during the pandemic?
(HT: One Mile at a Time)