Delta Continues To Devalue Their SkyPesos In The Worst Way

2 years ago Delta removed the award charts from their website.

They still have internal award charts, but they won’t publish them.

I wrote back then,

” For whatever reason Delta doesn’t want people to know what the awards should cost. Or they want to be able to change award prices as they please without having to update their charts.”


Both statements have turned out to be true. They want their award pricing on their own flights to be opaque so that the price is what they say it is, period. There’s no way to cross-reference it or see if it’s pricing correctly. And every couple of months they have steadily increased the rates they charge.

They also run award sales that allow you to book mileage tickets for fewer miles, but how can they advertise a sale if there are no regular rates?

To be fair, it hasn’t all been bad. Award space for saver award travel on some routes, especially to Europe, has improved and is actually much better than on American. However close-in availability can get very expensive and saver award availability on routes like JFK-Tel Aviv is non-existent.

It’s the slow trickle of devaluations that have properly earned SkyMiles its SkyPesos moniker.

The latest news is that Delta has made partner award flights 10-25% more expensive than before. They managed to implement this latest devaluation while their airline and online operations were melting down over this past week.

A JFK-London flight in Delta business class is 70K miles one-way, but if you want to fly on Virgin Atlantic it’s 85K miles.

A Virgin Australia flight to Australia in business class was 80K miles one-way at the time they deleted their award charts. That rate went up to 95K after the charts were deleted and the new partner saver award rate on that route is 115K one-way.

Currently there’s a workaround if you book a domestic Delta flight at the saver award level to add on a partner award at the old rates. But finding Delta domestic saver award can be tough and it means having to take a connection. And it remains to be seen how long that workaround will last.

Delta feels that it is so strong operationally that they don’t need to have a competitive mileage program. Perhaps that is true or perhaps that is arrogance, but with some airlines making more profit selling miles than selling seats there will come a time where people will stop accumulating Delta miles with their credit cards and focus their spending on airlines that treat mileage collectors with honesty and fairness.

HT: Emkay, via DDF

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17 Responses to “Delta Continues To Devalue Their SkyPesos In The Worst Way”

  1. Captain Reality Says:
    1

    It sounds like whining to me. You may be right but someone who takes advantage of credit card offers and is rewarded with lots of free travel, it sounds like sour grapes. They are entitled to do whatever they want with their program and you are always free to leave them and fly someone else.

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  2. Dan Says:
    2

    @Captain Reality:
    Doesn’t make much of a difference to me at all. I feel worse for people in Delta hubs who have little choice.

    I have 7 figures of AA and United miles, but 6 figures of Delta miles as I don’t focus my earning or flying on them.

    In the end of the day that costs them money as they could be selling more miles to AMEX and more tickets if they had a more honest program.

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  3. Mike Says:
    3

    @dan. Good for you. This whining is unbecoming of you.

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  4. 2 million miles down to 200k Says:
    4

    I went from over 2 million miles with delta and now I’m at 200k, I only build up to what I need for the year and I move my money to my Buisness platinum where I receive 50 percent back on my delta flights. Their millage program is worthless

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  5. Anonymous Says:
    5

    @Dan:

    Delta still makes LOADS of money selling miles

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  6. Dan Says:
    6

    @Mike:
    I don’t see any whining. I’m telling it like it is.
    I just don’t believe that Delta’s decision to go opaque is to way to earn more business.

    @2 million miles down to 200k:
    Bingo.

    @Anonymous:
    Does that mean they wouldn’t earn more by being honest with their customers?

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  7. secstate Says:
    7

    I have zero Delta miles. I took the warning years ago and shifted my interest and earnings elsewhere. I haven’t flown them in years either though I will fly them in January 2018 though I used AF miles to book the flight. On the other hand AA has their own issues but at least you can book partner awards fairly easily. Since most of my travel is international that is ok with me.

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  8. reb yid Says:
    8

    @Dan:
    “Does that mean they wouldn’t earn more by being honest with their customers?”

    Of course not. Why would it be to their advantage to give you less value for your miles, AND THEN ADVERTISE IT ON A PUBLISHED AWARD CHART? It’s in their interest to keep on collecting money from the CCs, while at the same time shelling out fewer free trips. I don’t understand why you don’t get it. The airlines are in business to make money. Sometimes that involves making Dan happy, sometimes it doesn’t.

    “I have 7 figures of AA and United miles”
    Are you insane? After all that’s been going on, you’re still banking miles, hoping against hope that their value isn’t going to tank tomorrow?

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  9. Dan Says:
    9

    @secstate:
    Using AA miles on partners is definitely the way to go, though the fuel surcharges on BA makes that hard.

    It’s the airlines not on AA.com (Cathay, Etihad, JAL, etc) that are the best parts of the program if you know how to search for their awards.

    @reb yid:
    In the long run they are in the business of keeping their customers happy.

    Do you think that people in Mexico or Venezuela are happy about a currency that’s always being devalued?

    Maybe there’s a short-term gain to be had, but I do believe that in the long run it will hurt their bottom line.

    It really makes little difference to me. I can’t even remember my last Delta flight or redemption and I’m traveling just fine.

    I don’t hoard miles. I earn them faster than I can redeem them.

    I burned 2.46MM miles just last year alone:
    http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/110253

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  10. brodes18 Says:
    10

    When I travel for business, I stay away from Delta. I used to book AA until they started playing games with their very limited saver awards. Now I book exclusively United for what I see as an airline that’s trying hard to take customer service seriously.

    The bottom line for me is that I choose who to fly based on their loyalty program. These tickets are not cheap and I am happy to spend where I will get recognized for it.

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  11. AJK Says:
    11

    Boggles the mind how people still sing the tune of “well, you got the miles ‘for free’ Dan, so you have no right to whine.”

    Unbelievable how that misses the entire point, and that would be even if such a claim were true!

    The point that Dan is making is that Delta may be winning in the short run by jacking miles prices and acting with wholesale disregard with respect to its SkyMiles members, but in the long run, if Delta alienates both the people who actually put their butts in seats, and/or the people who spend on CCs, the effect on Delta’s bottom line will more than outweigh the short term gain. Why would anyone use a Delta card or transfer points to a program that is constantly–and surreptitiously–moving the goal posts? Anyone who argues otherwise either fails to see the forest for the trees, doesn’t know who butters Delta’s bread, or simply works for SkyMiles.

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  12. Honest or Transparent? Says:
    12

    Dan,

    What is dishonest about their program? What you are trying to characterize as a lack of honesty >>> “…if they had a more honest program.” seems to be more of you expecting them to be more transparent about their pricing. They do not owe you (or more) transparency. If you think they do, then start with being more “honest” yourself. I would love to know the details about how you make your living from this site because I would like to be able to make passive income in the same way you do.

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  13. Dan Says:
    13

    @brodes18:
    Well done!

    @AJK:
    Exactly.

    @Honest or Transparent?:
    The changing of award rates without any warning is dishonest in my book. Back when they had published award charts they claimed that they by law they couldn’t give advance warning, which was a blatant lie. Claiming to have a sale while claiming there is no published rate is dishnoest. Moving the goalposts is dishonest.

    I’d also love to learn more about passive income. Not sure when 90 hour workweeks became classified as passive?

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  14. Rod Says:
    14

    I sure would like a published chart. Can’t flyers develop one by publishing here what mileage we paid for specific flights, then Dan you could publish Dan’s Chart?

    However, Delta miles don’t expire – this is more competitive than lower miles for flights, in my opinion. I have lost over 150,000 miles on American and other airlines for lack of activity. Which really angered me!!! Some of these airlines have no trouble sending email touting how good they are; one would think they could include the expiration date of miles.

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  15. Dan Says:
    15

    @Rod:
    Not really a point in making a chart when they’re changing the chart every month.

    They don’t need to expire them when they can devalue them without notice.
    Also there are several ways that I’ve written about to unexpire miles.

    http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/61695

    ReplyReply
  16. Rod Says:
    16

    @Dan: Thanks for the unexpire link.

    As to “they’re changing the chart every month,” is that a wholesale change or a little here, a little there. I still think a Dan’s chart would be helpful, so we have some understanding of what to expect. Or, perhaps, just use another airline’s chart as a point of reference.

    ReplyReply
  17. ScroatWillams Says:
    17

    The fact is if every mile would be redeemed at high value they wouldn’t be making more money from their credit card. With all these devaluations they are saying, a uneducated customer is our favorite customer. They are looking for someone who is happy with a free bag, priority boarding and free trip every once in a while….. They obviously feel that the route they are taking won’t effect their bottom line or at least not negatively – and in the meantime they are getting paid for their “sky pessos”

    ReplyReply

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