Well, I think we all saw this coming.
A few weeks ago, Delta changed their pricing engine to no longer allow stopovers on award tickets. Previously one stopover was allowed on a roundtrip, while using the new pricing engine, awards with stopovers priced cumulatively (meaning you were paying extra for your stopover).
The next day a Delta spokesperson explained that this was caused by a recent IT change at delta.com, and that no change had occurred in the award stopover policy. The spokesperson claimed that stopovers continue to be bookable by phone, though that’s not entirely true. Delta SkyMiles agents use the same pricing system that delta.com does, so in order to get a free stopover the agent has to manually price the award ticket. And that requires a lot of hanging up and calling again.
Reading between the lines, I think the implications were perfectly clear — Delta was starting to set up the IT for the 2015 SkyMiles program, and part of that was eliminating free stopovers on award tickets.
It looks like that’s now official. Delta made the following update to their SkyMiles terms and conditions (bolding mine):
For Award Travel booked prior to January 1, 2015, one stopover is allowed per roundtrip Award Ticket under certain circumstances. A stopover is defined as a stay of more than 4 hours between domestic flights and more than 24 hours between domestic and international or all international flights. The destination city is not considered a stopover. A stopover is allowed, provided there are no more than two connections between the origin and destination including any connections that are made while traveling to/from the stopover point. The stopover city must be located on a valid routing.
Stopovers will no longer be permitted for Award Travel booked on or after January 1, 2015.
Am I sad to see them eliminate stopovers on award tickets? Yes.
Do I wish they had announced that they’d eliminate stopovers the same time they announced they’d add one ways? Absolutely.
Am I surprised to see them announce the good news early and the bad news late? Nope.
All things considered, would I trade stopovers for the ability to book one way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip? Absolutely.
I also have to give Delta credit for rolling out a new SkyMilesaward calendar, which makes searching award space online almost infinitely easier.
Anyway, if you want to book a roundtrip SkyMiles award ticket with a stopover, make sure you do so by December 31, 2014.
Which do you find more valuable: stopovers on roundtrip awards, or one way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip?