What you need to know about Delta SkyMiles Devaluation. Where you can still get value from your SkyMiles.
The latest Delta devaluation
Delta’s recent devaluation has an impact on partner award flights on Delta routes. Think New York to London, Atlanta to Amsterdam.
How severe is the damage? We don’t know the exact extent of the damage. Partner awards are now dynamically priced, instead of the “traditional” devaluation where the award prices go up by a fixed amount. This means that we cannot quantify how much the prices have risen.
New Delta partner pricing
This is the most extreme example of these changes on the route between New York and London-JFK. Virgin Atlantic’s most recent partner devaluation resulted in Virgin Atlantic business-class awards for this route at 95,000 SkyMiles per way. Last-minute bookings were available at 195,000 SkyMiles.
The award price for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is the same as what Delta charges for its flights – whether it’s 220,000 SkyMiles for advanced bookings, or 375,000 SkyMiles for close-in bookings.
This pricing does not apply to the New York City-London route. Virgin Atlantic business-class awards were as expensive as 375,000 SkyMiles per way from Atlanta to London, according to our research.
KLM’s business-class award from Atlanta to Amsterdam now costs as much as 340,000 SkyMiles per way — the same price Delta charges for its nonstop flight on the same route.
The same advanced booking award would have cost 95,000 SkyMiles prior to these changes. This is a 250% increase in award price.
KLM charges only 68,000 Flying Blue miles to fly the same flight. Flying Blue will cost you $210 more than Delta, but the mileage savings make it worth it.
Routes are not yet affected
This new pricing is not available on all routes.
Air France and Delta fly between Paris and Atlanta, for example. Air France business-class awards, when available, are priced at 120,000 SkyMiles per way, whereas Delta One awards cost 325,000 SkyMiles for one-way.
We haven’t found any examples of Delta offering higher award prices on flights that it doesn’t fly. But that doesn’t mean these routes will not be changed soon.
You can still get great value from your Delta SkyMiles
While devaluations can happen, it doesn’t mean that airline miles will lose their value. If you are wondering how to still get value out of your Delta SkyMiles following these changes, here are some options.
Partner Awards on Delta routes where is not available
We have not yet seen any changes in Delta partner award pricing for routes Delta operates. This means that you may still be able find value on international flights on routes Delta does not fly.
You can book a business class award on Air France from Chicago-O’Hare and Paris for 120,000 SkyMiles.
Delta SkyMiles offers business-class flights to Europe for as low as 75,000 SkyMiles per way, through October 2020. This means that even with this “good” SkyMiles use, you still pay 60% more than what you could have paid two years ago. Talk about severe inflation.
Domestic Delta award flight
Many travelers will find Delta SkyMiles to be the most valuable for domestic award flights. This is where travelers can take advantage of Delta’s dynamic award pricing. Book low-demand flights at off-peak times to score some amazing awards.
You can book Delta award flights from San Francisco to Seattle for as low as 3,000 SkyMiles per way. Extra-legroom seats are available for 7,500 miles, while first-class awards cost only 15,000 SkyMiles.
If you are flexible with your dates, you can score amazing deals on Hawaii award flights. For nonstop award flights between Los Angeles, Honolulu and Los Angeles, redeem just 16,000 SkyMiles roundtrip.
Delta basic economy awards can’t be changed and you will lose some miles if your cancel. If you are looking for flexibility, book a main cabin award with Delta that can be cancelled or changed at no cost.
International flights with partners
A place where Delta SkyMiles still stands out is on routes not touching the U.S.
Recently, I visited both South Korea and Japan in the same trip. I booked a SkyMiles award between Seoul and Tokyo for 7,500 SkyMiles. This award option is still available, and there are many award availability.
These flights are generally priced at $235 per person, so you still get a lot of value for your SkyMiles.
You can also find value in European flights. For flights within Europe, Delta charges only 10,000 SkyMiles per way — even for long distances like Istanbul to London.
On certain routes, you might be able book a low-cost flight with cash on a low cost airline. These awards can only be booked on Delta’s full service partner airlines like Air France or KLM. This means Delta’s elites can enjoy extra baggage allowances and airport lounges.
Delta’s partner devaluation recapped
Delta recently increased the award rates on award flights booked through its partners. SkyMiles award pricing on some routes is the same regardless of whether you book Delta flights or those from its partner. SkyMiles members will no longer be able to score high value awards in this way.
We have not seen any changes in award pricing on flights where Delta does not operate. The unpublished chart of partner award flights abroad seems to still be valid. You can still benefit from SkyMiles by combining these awards with domestic Delta awards.
Maximizing your Rewards
A travel credit card should be able to prioritize what is most important to you. These are our top picks for the top travel credit cards for 2022.