More Delta Routes Offered for Just 5000 Miles One Way

Yesterday I wrote that Delta has introduced one-way awards for as little as 5000 miles one-way.

I showed the first example of this: Los Angeles – San Francisco.

It turns out that:

  • This isn’t the only route
  • It isn’t the only Los Angeles route
  • Los Angeles isn’t the only city
  • But not all similar-distance destinations are available as cheaply.

From Los Angeles, once you get to three week advance purchase we have Los Angeles – Sacramento

And we also have Los Angeles – San Jose

…But not Los Angeles – Las Vegas.

…And not Los Angeles – San Diego.

These awards are available Seattle – Portland.

… But not Seattle – Spokane.

Interesting which routes they’re doing this. I do not like it.

  • It’s not like British Airways short haul awards, which are distance based. These are discounts on the cheapest flights, and we can expect more expensive flights to cost more miles.

  • For a frequent flyer program to have value it needs to hold out the possibility of outsized reward. Otherwise it’s just another punch card program. These didn’t become billion dollar businesses, the most successful marketing innovation in history, but being rebate programs.

  • If they eliminate the ‘wins’ from the program, where you get more than your 1-2 cents per mile in value, there’s no reason to choose SkyMiles. There’s no reason whatsoever to choose a SkyMiles co-brand credit card.

In many ways this presages the end of value. And now that the Suntrust debit card is no longer going to be a worthwhile product come end of July, there will be no reason to collect SkyMiles at all.

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’m not sure why everyone is so surprised about this. It’s called supply & demand. More expensive flights cost more. Go figure.

  2. It does presage the end of value. …but, didn’t you once call the currency SkyPesos?

  3. Give it a rest, Mark. Yes he used to bring it up (way) too often. Yes SkyPesos is a pretty dumb phrase in the first place (as a term it would make more sense to mock something called SkyDollars) but you’re the one bringing it up now

  4. @Chris actually that’s wrong, since we’re talking about the lowest level saver awards so seats that would otherwise go unsold. And those cost next to nothing to the airline to provide.

  5. The cost of Woodford Reserve to keep in an alcohol-induced stupor writing ra ra go Delta blog posts has taken a toll on Delta’s operating budget and stock buyback plan, they had no choice but to take away value from the remaining fools who who use the Skypesos program.

  6. Please help me understand how skymiles work.
    Trying to get from hkg to was
    Found Hkg – pvg- dtw for 70k miles and
    Dtw – bwi has saver level availability
    (ie 10k coach 25k business)
    However hkg-pvg-dtw -bwi costs 110k, why the increase from 70k to 110k, dtw and bwi are in the same zone right??

  7. What’s interesting about this is that it creates pretty good value *for elites* while screwing everybody else.

    If you’re Delta Diamond, you’re getting an almost-fully-refundable ticket (Delta’s 72 hour rule takes away some of this value). Gary, your $72 fare was for non-refundable — but for Elites, the benchmark is much more like the fully refundable benchmark, which is closer to $300. Not a bad deal for 5k miles. If AA or UA adopted this (both airlines allow full refunds *after* departure on award tickets for 1Ks/EXPs), it wouldn’t be a bad benefit.

  8. Gary – Is it time to stick a fork in SkyMiles? I don’t fly Delta for the miles, but rather because they’re on time, they don’t cancel, and they don’t lose my luggage. As a Diamond, that’s more valuable to me. I use miles for partner awards to go to Europe. Their planes are almost always full and I ask people around me if they’re using miles – and they’re not. They’re paying customers. I don’t like that I can’t use my miles on Delta, but there are other considerations besides miles/points to use an airline.

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