Ouch: Big Delta devaluation on partner awards

19

As reported by One Mile at a Time, Delta has devalued SkyMiles again. On the podcast we recorded yesterday for publication tomorrow, we talked about the unadvertised Delta sale this week and how confused we were that Delta wouldn’t want to advertise the chance to get great value out of SkyMiles. I even noted that Delta must be aware of its reputation for having a low-value currency, but as I said that, I didn’t imagine that today I would be writing that they are now charging 120,000 SkyMiles one-way for business class to Europe on partner airlines. That’s insane. Unfortunately, other regions are affected as well.

Delta Air Lines

The devaluations

We had reported last fall when Delta devalued partner awards (egregiously so for flights close to departure), and they have done it again. Here is a look at changes:

Europe

  • In October 2020: One-way partner awards to Europe in business class started at 95K miles one-way more than 21 days in advance of departure (up from 75K) or varied as high as 195K one-way within 21 days
  • In February 2021: One-way partner awards to Europe in business class now start at 120K miles one-way more than 21 days in advance of departure.

For the best ways to get to Europe in business class for many fewer miles than Delta will charge you, see our Best ways to get to Europe using miles..

North Asia

  • October 2020: Award prices started at 102.5K one-way in business class
  • February 2021: Award prices start at 120K one-way in business class

For the best ways to get to Asia in business class for many fewer miles than Delta will charge you, see our Best ways to get to Asia using miles (premium cabins).

India

  • October 2020: Award prices started at 102.5K one-way in business class
  • February 2021: Award prices start at 120K one-way in business class

India is a tricky destination because different mileage programs categorize fit under “Asia”, “Central Asia”, or “Indian subcontinent” and as such prices vary, but I’m not immediately aware of any mileage program charging more miles for a one-way business class ticket than Delta is here. One of the best options for business class to India is via Turkish Miles and Smiles, which should cost just 52,500 miles one way in business class on Star Alliance partners, though they do pass on fuel surcharges so you’ll want to avoid the partners with high charges. As we reported earlier today, those miles are on sale from 1.71c each right now.

Southeast Asia

  • October 2020: Award prices started at 147.5K one-way in business class
  • February 2021: Award prices start at 165K one-way in business class

Again, for the best ways to get to Asia in business class for many fewer miles than Delta will charge you, see our Best ways to get to Asia using miles (premium cabins).

Truthfully, those prices are ludicrous for saver business class awards. In my opinion, there is very little value in collecting Delta SkyMiles apart from using them to fly Delta when Delta happens to have an unannounced sale that lines up with your plans.

Bottom line

Delta is devaluing business class awards big time at a time when few people are looking at international business class awards. Yesterday, when we wrote about Marriott’s latest hotel category changes, one reader expressed anger that more bloggers weren’t outraged that any of Marriott’s properties increased in price during a time that has seen such a sharp decrease in travel. In response, I noted that I was glad that Marriott hadn’t gone the other way and decided that it was a good time to broadly raise award costs since relatively few people are focused on travel and so negative changes would draw less attention. Unfortunately, it seems that Delta was following exactly the playbook I had feared we could see. In my view, this makes the collection of Delta SkyMiles a highly questionable proposition, particularly when we consider the fact that they have devalued twice in less than 4 months. Sorry Greg, I just can’t see spending for Delta Diamond as a winning proposition moving forward.

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