Forget What Ya Heard: Delta SkyMiles Are NOT Worthless

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Travel “loyalty” programs are like attempting to clean the house while your kids are still home. In theory, it makes sense but seldom does it work out. And in this hobby, loyalty programs tend to follow a cyclical path…on the mountain top one day, in the valley the next, and hopefully back to the mountain top soon.

BACKGROUND

Delta SkyMiles is an interesting loyalty program because they were the first airline to NOT publish an award chart.

What is an award chart? Well, back in the day, EVERY AIRLINE had an “award chart” that essentially told you how many miles it would cost to travel from [City A –> City B], and the amount of required miles for an award ticket was static. In other words, the ticket would cost you the same amount of miles on Monday that it would cost on Tuesday (given there was availability).

In early 2015, Delta decided to switch it up and NOT publish an award chart. The only way that you could determine the redemption price between cities was to go online, complete a search, and the price that you saw was the price you paid, period. The challenge is that the consumer never knows what the “real price” is.

For example, you could search for a Delta award ticket on Monday, contemplate the cost overnight, search for the same exact ticket on Tuesday morning and the price can, literally, double overnight.

Likewise, you can search for a Delta award ticket on 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, difficult when the price point for an award ticket is somewhere between 5,000 miles and infinity.

Given that development, SkyMiles were dubbed “skypesos” by many in the miles and points world. People abandoned the program and credited their miles to SkyMiles partners.

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY

Delta is a partner with Virgin Atlantic and you can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on Delta planes (as I explain in THIS BLOG). But let me give you an example…

Delta flies from non-stop from Boston (BOS) to Paris (CDG). This is how many miles Delta wants for a one-way business class seat on their plane…

delta.com

…And this is how many miles Virgin Atlantic requires to fly on the same Delta flight…

virginatlantic.com

SAME EXACT DATE…SAME EXACT TIME…SAME EXACT FLIGHT… IN THE SAME EXACT SEAT!

This is the reason that Delta is not mentioned much with points and miles enthusiasts.

ARE SKYMILES WORTHLESS?

Recently, Delta has been having weekly award ticket flash sales (like THIS and THIS). During these “sales,” Delta will reduce the amount of the miles required between specific city pairs. However, Delta doesn’t publish an award chart so it can be difficult to determine if you’re paying a good price.

It’s an interesting business model because they have some amazing sales and if you’re not prepared with SkyMiles, you may catch a case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Yesterday, I highlighted how I found a roundtrip economy ticket to Tokyo for $56. And it doesn’t stop there.

Atlanta (ATL) – Brussels (BRU) for 44,000 SkyMiles + $56 roundtrip:

Boston (BOS) – Brussels (BRU) for 40,000 SkyMiles + $62 roundtrip:

Los Angeles (LAX) – Paris (CDG) for 34,000 SkyMiles + $84 roundtrip:

New York (JFK) – Amsterdam (AMS) for 30,000 SkyMiles + $51 roundtrip:

New York (JFK) – Paris (CDG) for 26,000 SkyMiles + $84 roundtrip:

Again, signing up for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex (Personal) [READ MORE] could be a no-brainer. The perks include:

  • Best Perk: Free Checked Bags And Early Boarding
  • Annual Fee: $99 (waived for the first 12 months)
  • Welcome Bonus: The Delta SkyMiles Gold Personal Amex [READ MORE] is offering up to 70,000 SkyMiles: 60,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 within three months and an additional 10,000 bonus miles after your first anniversary of card membership (during the limited time increased bonus).

With the 60,000 point welcome bonus, you could travel roundtrip to Europe twice for $100 total!

FINAL STAMP

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, yeah? 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!!

Well, that’s how it used to be…SkyMiles are back!

Were you aware that Delta did not publish an award chart? Were you aware that Delta was publishing great roundtrip rates?

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