Delta SkyMiles Lowers Partner Award Costs To Europe!

Delta SkyMiles doesn’t publish award charts for mileage redemptions. The price you see is the price you get. For the past few years, the general trend is that we’ve been seeing constant price increases for award tickets. As Delta tries to move SkyMiles more closely to a revenue based program, it’s only logical that they’d increase redemption rates for premium cabin tickets.

Not only has Delta generally been raising award costs, but as of last year they’ve started charging more for award tickets on partner airlines than for awards on their own flights.

However, a couple of weeks ago that trend was reversed between two regions. Specifically, Delta lowered the cost of partner award tickets between the US and North Asia in both economy and business class. The cost is now 35,000 miles one-way in economy (5,000 fewer miles than before), and 85,000 miles in business class (10,000 fewer miles than before).

Initially I assumed this was an IT glitch, though Delta confirmed that this was intentional. Is SkyMiles finally finding that their devaluations are catching up with them?

It looks like the price decreases have now been extended to another region. Straight To The Points notes that Delta has lowered the cost of partner airline redemptions between the US and Europe. Redemptions now cost:

  • 32,500 miles one-way in economy (2,500 fewer miles than before)
  • 75,000 miles one-way in business class (10,000 fewer miles than before).

The one catch is that as of now it doesn’t seem like they’ve lowered redemption rates on Virgin Atlantic when flying exclusively to/from London. You can get that lower rates if you’re flying Virgin Atlantic to/from London and then connecting on a flight to elsewhere on the same award, though. It remains to be seen whether that’s intentional, or if they’re still in the process of updating their system.

Just to give a couple of examples, here’s an Air France business class ticket from New York to Paris for 75,000 miles one-way:

Here’s a ticket from Washington to London to Amsterdam, with the first segment on Virgin Atlantic, and the second segment on KLM:

The one sad thing this has reminded me of is just how abysmal business class award availability is when redeeming SkyMiles for SkyTeam partners to & from Europe. Air France and KLM are incredibly stingy with award space, making it tough to actually find much partner award availability.

Still, I’m happy to see SkyMiles reversing their trend of partner award ticket price increases, and it’s something that makes me feel more confident about the future. Here’s to hoping that there are more SkyMiles partner award ticket price reductions on the horizon.

Are you surprised to see Delta lower award costs to/from Europe?

Comments

  1. @ Lucky – Where have all the Aeroflot redemption’s gone!!!? I would think they would have tons of capacity.

    Not that I actually think you have that answer, but FYI, I don’t see any long haul anywhere on the Calendar, just short haul.

  2. 170,000 miles for USA-Europe J class and 70,000 miles for USA-Europe Y class is not cheap like yesteryear. Before 50,000 mi or so (Y) and low 100’s (J) was common. But thanks, Lucky, for the update.

    To add insult to injury, LAX-JFK in Y can earn less than 1,000 miles. So Y class means 35 round trips. Before, it earned 5,000 miles, which would mean 10 round trips for a European Y award.

    I may redeem in 2019. I wonder what the fuel surcharges are? All I know is BA is lousy for fuel surcharges even though fuel is relatively cheap now.

  3. @ Rob – yeah I thought about that, but you can still get a paid fare. In fact a super cheap one, I saw economy (not for me of course!) for $550 RT.

  4. Actually if you look out towards early 2019 the Wednesday flights seem to be 70k through Jan/Feb.

  5. “…finally finding their devaluations are catching up with them?” <—This is something l’ve never understood. This may be an elementary question but how would a devaluation on partner awards hurt DL?

  6. @DaKine I actually saw Aeroflot for LHR-JFK (July 6 overnight) when researching the post for STTP. Biz class SVO-JFK but economy on LHR-SVO. Obviously, the taxes/fees would be rough. SVO-JFK on July 7 doesn’t show space though.

  7. @Spencer Russia is hosting the World Cup around then, so could be lack of award space due to that. I’m flying IAD-SVO-IAD in June for that reason, and award space was pretty hard to come by when I booked months ago.

  8. AJ, devaluations in this case is the opposite, that is Delta reducing the value of their miles, and more miles being needed for the same flights (something common to all airlines), which has largely been the case until the couple of recent price cuts reported here.

  9. @Jim That would make sense. Admittedly, I wasn’t focused on finding Aeroflot space, specifically, so I didn’t check other dates.

  10. Thanks @ Spencer. I do have a flight to SVO in prime world cup time on LOT. But other than that I see nothing. And by nothing I mean the real deal… JFK->SVO… SVO-> LAX. Nothing of any consequence.

    Hopefully it is not the Russians giving up on us, but probably so. These greedy evil American imperialists only deserve so much respect. I was born here in the USA on 4th of July and have tried everything to stop them. At some point you just have to go out and enjoy the world…

  11. @AJ obviously the specific data on this is held tightly, but in general airlines want partner redemptions to balance. If delta raises the cost too high and there are too few delta redemptions on other carriers, this will cause friction as the imbalances have to be settled in cash. I suspect one of the reasons AA prevents online ticketing for most partners is to keep things balanced.

    Something else to consider is pushback from credit card companies — they pay a lot for each mile they give customers. All evidence suggests that folks are not spending as much on airline credit cards as the value of such miles has fallen.

  12. @mishas:

    Not sure if this is what @AJ meant, but I’m curious, too, to know if Delta increasing the cost of partner awards (devaluing their award chart) actually is bad for business. The Big 3 have a quasi-oligopoly on award international travel using miles acquired through butt-in-seat time. Aside from those of us in the miles/points games with CC churn and manufactured spend, most US-based flyers have little choice/knowledge(?) on ways to accrue miles. So they pick a Big 3, fly only with them – either domestically or internationally – and hope to one day cash in their miles. My folks-in-law sold their souls to AA and each have one miles-earning AA credit card and only fly with AA. Then, after so many years of flying they’ll redeem their miles for two RT tickets to Aruba or Hawaii. They refuse to listen to my partner and I when we tell them there are better ways to earn/burn. I find they’re pretty representative of the general flying public. That said, why would any of the Big 3 not just continue to devalue the awards chart when there’s really not a whole lot of recourse for fliers.

    @Ben: Can you do a post on this, maybe? It’d be interesting to see numbers – if any exist – on the fiscal ramifications of an award chart devaluation.

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