Delta SkyMiles One Way Awards Now Bookable

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

One of the few positive aspects of the controversial new Delta SkyMiles 2015 program is that one way award tickets are now permitted for half the cost of a roundtrip. Previously Delta charged the same number of miles for a roundtrip award as for a one way.

Now, the dark side of this change is that as of 2015 Delta SkyMiles also eliminated stopovers on awards. Previously you were allowed one stopover on a roundtrip, while now you’re not allowed any stopovers on award tickets.

Delta SkyMiles one way awards are now bookable

Delta has been quick in implementing the new one way award scheme, as they started allowing one way awards through their website as soon as the clock struck midnight on the East Coast.

The good news is that one way awards are pricing exactly the way I was expecting.

Saver level domestic awards are pricing at 12,500 miles one way:

Delta-SkyMiles-One-Way-Awards

Saver level one way business class awards between the US and Europe are pricing at 62,500 miles:

SkyMiles-2

Fuel surcharges originating in Europe?

Now, my one concern with the new SkyMiles program was regarding fuel surcharges on awards originating in Europe. For a long time, Delta SkyMiles has imposed fuel surcharges on award tickets originating in Europe. In other words, if you book an award ticket from the US to Europe on Air France you wouldn’t pay fuel surcharges, while if you book an award ticket from Europe to the US on Air France you would pay fuel surcharges.

My hope was that Delta would get rid of the Europe origination fuel surcharges altogether, though not surprisingly that was wishful thinking. One way awards originating in Europe do still have fuel surcharges.

For example, take the below Paris to Los Angeles Air France business class award, which costs 62,500 miles plus ~314EUR in taxes/fees/fuel surcharges:

SkyMiles-1

When you look at the breakdown, that does indeed include the 191EUR in fuel surcharges on the ticket:

Fuel-Surcharges

The good news is that as before, if you book a roundtrip award from the US to Europe, you won’t be charged the fuel surcharges for the return:

SkyMiles-5

That’s as I expected, though I could have also seen them going the route of truly pricing awards as one ways, in which case we might have been stuck with the fuel surcharges on the returns of those itineraries.

Saver level availability is quite good

As part of the new SkyMiles program, Delta has also introduced five “tiers” of awards for travel on their own flights. As before, award tickets on partner airlines still all price at the saver level, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

That being said, for travel on Delta, I’m finding saver level award availability to be as good as before, if not better.

I’m not sure if it’s related to the 2015 SkyMiles program as such, but I am noticing something that I hadn’t seen before. It looks like Delta is finally releasing low level business class award space on their premium transcon routes, including between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco:

Delta-SkyMiles-One-Way-Awards-1

Previously they didn’t release business class space at the low level.

Delta’s new SkyMiles award calendar is awesome

Lastly, keep in mind that a few weeks ago Delta SkyMiles introduced a functional award calendar. That’s indescribably valuable in booking and searching award space.

Bottom line

While I think the SkyMiles 2015 program as such is a net negative for most members (though certainly a huge positive for high revenue customers), I think the change in award rules might actually be positive.

Basically we’ve traded stopovers for one way awards and a functional award calendar. For my personal redemption patterns, I consider that to be a net positive. The thing to keep in mind is that these one ways are awesome, except when originating in Europe, where you’ll still be stuck with hefty fuel surcharges.

How do you feel about the award changes to the 2015 SkyMiles program, now that it has been implemented?

Comments

  1. One thing I was afraid of with SkyMiles2015 is that, with open jaws eliminated, you’d have to book two one ways, and pay the “foreign origination surcharge”. However, it seems that if you do a search as multi-city, putting your legs in separately (e.g. ORD-FCO//VCE-ORD), you’ll pay a round-trip amount of miles (60K/125K for Y/J) and the YQ will NOT apply.

    Of course, DL may “fix” this soon.

  2. lucky,

    I’m pissed off!

    That’s how I feel. Like an old ex-girlfriend, you keep hoping, but the promises are hollow and the truth stings!

    DELTA continues to disappoint me at every turn…

    Now, I think for a PNW-based flyer it’s time to seriously consider Alaska especially if they join oneworldalliance

    What a disappointment for the start of a new year!

  3. Just booked DCA-SLC-JAC for summer. Paid 20k, which I’m fine with as I’ve been tracking it for months and it was never cheaper, and I’ll easily “profit” on that. Noticed that there were also 25k options available, which I assume is part of the new five-tier pricing

  4. Interesting. Wonder if Alaska will also now start allowing one way Delta awards at half the miles as well.

    Award charts on AS website not updated, web search on AS website still shows round trip pricing for one way awards. Haven’t bothered phoning them to find out if they plan to offer it. Know anything?

  5. This change is awesome for people like me who don’t fly DL and have “orphan” miles. Overnight, my 58K balance went from being almost useless to just 4500 miles away from VS Upper Class. Now, I’ll just have to find a creative way of getting those 4500 miles; it pains me to transfer from SPG…

    It goes to show that even with all the devaluations, sometimes it pays to play the long game.

  6. Ben, I’m torn… as a person who won’t fly nearly enough to quality for mid tier elite level (probably around 25k to 30k) in 2015… I could pursue few extra MR and 10k bonus EQM with credit card spend to maintain AA Platinum. Or I can switch now and pursue Delta’s Platinum level with 40k bonus qualifying miles via Credit card spend and reach Delta Platinum.

    So in your opinion, would you prefer Delta Platinum or AA Platinum elite level? Since most of my miles earning will be by credit card spend revenue based earnings really doesn’t affect me as much.

    Thanks,

  7. @ Juno — While it depends on your exact travel patterns, in general I do think Delta Platinum is more valuable than American Platinum, and I think under your circumstances they might be the better option.

  8. Ben,

    Why do you think Alaska won’t start allowing one-way Delta awards? I guess I was naturally assuming they would — I figured the only reason they didn’t allow one-way Delta awards before was because Delta themselves didn’t allow it. Alaska has switched to allowing one-way awards on the rest of their partners (except Korean, iirc).

    Thanks,
    Todd

  9. Hey Lucky, I can’t seem to access any Delta awards on Flying Blue’s website. Is this normal? Or am I just tired? 😀

  10. @ Todd — I wouldn’t be surprised if they do eventually, but I wouldn’t expect the timing to be tied to Delta offering it or not. Frankly given how rough the relationship between Alaska and Delta is, I just wouldn’t count on any positive changes happening for members of the other program.

  11. @ franck — FlyingBlue’s website is really inconsistent in terms of the award space it shows. It’s probably just temporary.

  12. If one leg on a DL Biz multi-segment award ticket is booked in Economy due to availability, what can be done if Biz availability later opens up. This will be a KE flight.

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