Delta SkyMiles is an interesting loyalty program because unlike other carriers, they do not publish an award chart.
Each airline has an award chart that tells you how many miles it will cost for you to go from A to B (or C or D). Typically, the amount of required miles for an award ticket is static meaning that it will cost you the same amount of miles on Monday that it will cost on Tuesday (given there is availability).
However, Delta doesn’t like transparency. The price you see online is the price you pay, period. The challenge is that the consumer (a.k.a. you) never know what the “real price” is.
For example, you can search for a Delta award ticket Monday, contemplate the cost overnight, search for the same exact ticket on Tuesday morning and the price can, literally, double overnight.
On the contrary, you can search for a Delta award ticket Monday, contemplate the cost overnight, search for the same exact ticket on Tuesday morning and the ticket will be on “sale” for half the price.
As a consumer, this can be frustrating because you never know what the price will be. Planning a trip can be, understandably, difficuly when the price point for an award ticket is somewhere between 5,000 miles and infinity.
WELL, IT JUST GOT WORSE…
I spend a healthy (this is can be argued) amount of time researching award charts and I know that the lowest award costs for travel from the states to Europe is 86,000 Skymiles, one way in business class. However, Delta has just secretly changed their award chart. When searching for award tickets now, the lowest business class award ticket price you will find is 105,000.
Again, unless you spend your days and nights searching for award availability, the consumer would not recognize this change because you are not aware of what the “real price” is or has been recently.
I find it interesting, however, that Delta continues to charge 86,000 Skymiles for many partner business class flights that are crossing the Atlantic. This is in stark contrast to United Airlines model where they began charging more for redeeming UA miles for partners.
Operation: ‘Don’t Get Ripped Off’
Delta is a partner with Virgin Atlantic. You can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on Delta planes and, typically, it requires less than half the miles (I explain it in THIS BLOG). But let me give you an example…
Delta flies from non-stop from Boston to Paris (BOS-CDG). This is how many miles Delta wants for a one-way business class seat on their plane…
…And this is how many miles you can give Virgin Atlantic to fly on the same Delta flight…
SAME EXACT DATE…SAME EXACT TIME…SAME EXACT FLIGHT… IN THE SAME EXACT SEAT…
Pro Tip: Virgin Atlantic charges 50,000 miles for one-way Delta business class from the US to anywhere in Europe other than the UK. As long as you originate in the states, there should be no surcharges.
If, however, you were not familiar with Delta’s interesting practices, you may see this…
…86,000 to fly on a Virgin Atlantic plane vs. 320,000 to fly on a Delta plane 1.5 hours later…Ouch!
Recently, Delta has been having weekly award ticket “flash sales.” Typically, during these “sales,” Delta will decrease the amount of the miles required between, specific, city pairs which can, obviously, save you miles. However, Delta doesn’t publish an award chart so consumers are not aware of the “real price.”
For example, if Delta normally charges 50,000 miles for a one-way, economy ticket between Atlanta and Chicago and now it’s on “sale” for 25,000 miles. It sounds like a deal, no? I mean…who doesn’t like 50% off?
What If I told you that you can buy a one-way, economy ticket on United Airlines from Atlanta to Chicago for 10,000-15,000 miles every day of the week? All of a sudden, 25,000 miles on Delta doesn’t sounds so appealing.
What If I told you that you can buy a one-way, economy ticket on American Airlines from Atlanta to Chicago for 7,500 miles using THIS TRICK every day of the week? All of a sudden, you begin to wonder why Delta was ever an option!!
Unfortunately, if you are unaware of your options, then everything sounds good. Fortunately, I’m here to help you sort through this mumbo jumbo.
And if you’re wondering if 105,000 for a one-way, business class ticket from the US-Europe is crazy…YES! YES IT IS!
I would recommend using Virgin Atlantic while the getting is good. It can change at anytime!
Were you aware that Delta did not publish an award chart? Were you aware that you could fly on Delta for A LOT less using Virgin Atlantic? How do you feel about Delta’s increase for awards?
I never knew you could use miles from one airline on another airline. It makes redemptions much more complicated but but opens up so many options. Thank you.