Even though US airlines have long had partner airlines that offer premium economy cabins, historically they haven’t allowed miles to be redeemed for that cabin. I suspect it’s because the US airlines didn’t have a premium economy product of their own, so it was easier to just not offer that redemption option.
Well, American and Delta are both in the process of adding a true premium economy product to their longhaul flights (which will be different than the extra legroom economy cabins they currently offer), so soon enough we should see new award and upgrade policies for getting into these cabins. It looks like we already have a clue of what this pricing will be like.
Delta is now letting you redeem SkyMiles for travel in Virgin Atlantic premium economy.
Effective November 28, 2016, SkyMiles Members can now use miles at delta.com to book Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy cabin on flights from the United States to the United Kingdom. Bookings over the phone through Delta Reservations will be available December 1, 2016. Features of Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy cabin include:
- Roomy leather seating with in-seat power so you can stay connected
- Priority Boarding and a dedicated check-in
- An upgraded dining experience including access to Virgin Atlantic’s Wander Wall snack gallery1
- A Premium Economy amenity kit on night flights
Delta seems to be charging 55,000 miles for one-way transatlantic premium economy.
Delta’s saver rates for transatlantic flights are as follows:
- Economy: 30,000 miles
- Premium Economy: 55,000 miles
- Business Class: 70,000 miles
Pricing premium economy much closer to business class than economy? Ouch! I think it’s safe to say that Delta will price their own premium economy similarly, once it becomes bookable.
As a point of comparison, if redeeming through Virgin Atlantic’s own newly devalued program, you’d pay the following number of miles one-way between the Northeast and London (plus taxes and carrier imposed surcharges):
- Economy: 10,000 miles
- Premium Economy: 17,500 miles
- Business Class: 47,500 miles
Just to add a further data point, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program has the following redemption rates for travel between North America and Europe:
- Economy: 30,000 miles
- Premium Economy: 37,500 miles
- Business Class: 55,000 miles
As you can see, Delta has among the most aggressive award pricing for premium economy, as they’re pricing it much closer to business class than economy when redeeming miles. Virtually all programs price premium economy closer to economy than business class, so this is a real shame.
On one hand it’s nice that it’s now possible to redeem SkyMiles for premium economy. More options are always a good thing. However, 55,000 miles for one-way transatlantic premium economy has to be among the most aggressive pricing out there for a non-business class product.
(Tip of the hat to Renes Points)