Delta Announces Yet Another Award Chart Devaluation Starting in February

by on November 11, 2013 · 23 comments

in Delta

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Back in August, Delta announced it would be raising the mileage requirements on many of its international awards for flights on or after June 1, 2014, and discontinuing the ability to put awards on hold starting September 1, 2013. It was the latest in a string of customer-unfriendly moves that included cutting award ticket holds, hacking away at same day flight change benefits for elites and instituting an revenue-based Medallion elite requirement, and more recently, removing elite upgrade searchability from ExpertFlyer.

It seems like the airline isn’t done slashing the value of SkyMiles yet, because June apparently wasn’t soon enough to start gouging flyers for more miles. Instead, on Friday evening, the airline announced that it would be increasing mileage redemption levels sooner with a new award chart it would put in place for tickets from February 1 – May 31, 2014 before the “big” devaluation.

Here’s what the current award chart looks like:

Screen shot 2013-11-10 at 6.31.28 PMAnd here’s what the interim award chart will be:

Screen shot 2013-11-10 at 6.32.30 PM

The following roundtrip awards will increase by these mileage amounts:

Business/First domestic: 5,000-10,000 miles
Economy Saver to Hawaii: 5,000 miles
Business/First to Hawaii: 5,000 miles for Saver, 15,000 miles for Standard
Economy Peak to Africa: 20,000 miles
BusinessElite Peak to Africa: 10,000 miles
Economy Saver to the Middle East: 5,000 miles
Economy Saver to South Asian Sub Continent: 5,000 miles
Business Saver to South Asian Sub Continent: 20,000 miles
Business Standard to North Asia: 20,000 miles
Business Peak to North Asia: 10,000 miles

As a reminder, here are what the June 1 BusinessElite award increases will look like:

USA/Canada to Europe
Old: 100,000 miles roundtrip
New: 125,000 miles roundtrip

USA/Canada to Asia
Old: 120,000 miles roundtrip
New: 140,000 miles roundtrip

USA/Canada to Australia
Old: 150,000 miles roundtrip
New: 160,000 miles roundtrip

USA/Canada to Africa
Old: 120,000 miles roundtrip
New: 140,000 miles roundtrip

USA/Canada to South Africa
Old: 140,000 miles roundtrip
New: 160,000 miles roundtrip

USA/Canada to Middle East
Old: 120,000 miles roundtrip
New: 140,000 miles roundtrip

USA/Canada to Southern South America
Old: 100,000 miles roundtrip
New: 125,000 miles roundtrip

So all in all, we’re looking at increases of up to 25% on some awards, and they’re going to go into effect within 3 months. The announcement claims that Delta periodically evaluates its award chart. With the international premium redemptions devaluation, the airline claimed it was changing those levels as a result of upgrading its BusinessElite cabins and offering lie-flat seats on its widebody fleet, as well as partnerships with Westin and Tumi and technological upgrades. But that’s an odd justification considering competitors like United’s BusinessFirst and American’s new business class cabins are also all lie-flat, while many of Delta’s partners including major ones like Air France and KLM won’t be upgrading their cabins until next year at the earliest.

All in all, this is just more disappointing news from Delta and just one more reason that 2013 has been the year of the devaluation – both in terms of airline miles and hotel points. While there are still plenty of ways to see the world in style and get good value from your points and miles, airlines and hotels are definitely going to be making it harder on all of us to do so. But what rankles me even more than the mileage increases is that Delta keeps springing one customer-unfriendly move after another on us with weak reasoning, and it’s enough to make me want to move away from Delta all together and focus on building balances in other programs where loyalty goes both ways.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    Devaluations seem to be the ‘in’ thing to do at the end of this year :( Quite unfortunate since I just started getting into the points+miles world this year.

  • tG

    What other programs would you suggest we follow that provides loyalty both ways?

  • infomofo

    So no change announced to the RTW redemption?

  • Schistosomiasis

    Well maybe if all of these blogs (not just this one) hadn’t got people to sign up for all these credit cards that increased the number of miles out there, then then airlines wouldn’t have increased their redemption levels. Supply and demand. It’s a Ponzi scheme, thankfully I have redeemed one million miles over the last year, mostly for premium cabin international flights.

  • stevn

    I’ve been trying to accumulate the 130,000 sky miles through a platinum AMEX but signed up for the Southwest RR premier and prime Friday. I can say once I meet my sky miles goal I will be switching to a Member Rewards account for the flexibility and leaving Delta in the dust.

  • EZinn

    This is very disappointing. I am Delta Platinum and have well over 1m miles to use. I have been considering switching fro some time although am not sure who to switch to as i do many ATL flights although cherish reward international Business Class vacations. Any suggestions?

  • TravelNut

    I would see that with the increase in people playing card roulette, status matching, doing mileage runs, etc, that most customers are a loss in rev, when you get 50k points on a card then never use it again till next year etc

  • smitty

    maybe its your fault then!

  • Karen

    I have been loyal delta for years… What do you think ranks second place

  • TravelNut


  • thepointsguy

    Airlines have been devaluing and changing award charts since well before the blogs. But you have a point that there is inflation due to credit cards so you might as well redeem instead of hoarding and hoping for points/miles to increase in value

  • Ben

    I live in Minneapolis and often times Delta is the only direct option. They already have one of the worst redemption rates in the industry. I find myself using Delta miles mostly on domestic awards. I would rather cash in AA miles for reasonable international flights such as 40K to Argentina & 75K to SE Asia. For 2014, I have managed low level elite status with AA, Delta and US Air. This will be an interesting year to see where I keep my loyalty and how my preferences shift around.

  • DBest

    What might be hoarding to those who acquire miles through rreimbursable spend would just be considered saving up for an award for the average family. It could easily take two years to get enough miles to fly a family of four to Asia in F. Then when you are finally ready to book, the airline moves the goalposts!

  • pcg

    This is exactly the position we are in with our family of five. Frustrating.

  • RobertBarron

    I find these blogs invaluable. Quit your whining unless you have something to contribute.

  • mrcandoit

    Delta’s skymiles are like the old inflationary lira…Worth a very little something but less and less every day. Maybe, nanopesos?

  • TravelNut

    Same as with coupons for food, when they did the special on tv to show the hoarders or extreme couponers the idea blew up, now stores devalue coupons, limit them etc, for 30yrs before a story people were getting away with it, now that everyone knows they have handcuffed the idea

  • leonardo_dicraprio

    Okay, my question is: should I switch to Flying Blue? I travel almost exclusively internationally, and hit platinum on Skymiles every year. It seems very unlikely that I’ll spend $7500 on Delta-coded flights, though, since Delta-coded fares are almost always 50-100% more than KLM or Air France on the routes I fly (and I fly economy). Any thoughts/previous posts on the relative advantages of Skymiles and Flying Blue in 2014? Thanks!

  • Yortman

    I am debating. After next week I will be platinum. I am thinking about doing a match to united. Others I work with get upgrades a lot with united. It is also easier to get to the highest statues for MQS. I reach the MQD status easily. I just want to have cheaper rewards tickets. Delta has made it easier for me to make the switch… Just feeling a little hesitant.

  • theavidcruiser

    Will the “cost” of business class around the world tickets be going up? It’s currently 280,000 miles.

  • Skypesos?

    Skymiles are worthless anyways. Even if AA devalues (or booking on United) you can actually FIND saver awards… All delta has going for it is a that it’s got a good and modern product. But AA and United aren’t far behind and once they catch up their fleet – there’s no reason to fly delta unless you’re stuck in a hub city.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Miles/Points? Big deal. I am more interested in the elite tiers. Because I get much better SERVICE.

    After all, this is the service industry. Without status, you get treated like freight. I do a lot of international travel in China (just came back from a 3 week trip, with a lot of internal China flights).

    As a Platinum with Delta, I truly get “Red Carpet” treatment – you should see the domestic check in areas for “VIP” customers. They offer you a frigging chair. Separate, much shorter security lines. Many times they simply send you to the VIP lounge, where you can board from the lounge and avoid the normal gate hassles/mobbing. If it is a “bus gate”, the VIPs get onto a bus with seats and are driven to the plane before the rest of the group. On arrival, if you are in business class, you are driven to the baggage claim area (don’t have to walk from the gate to the claim area).

    In the US, better customer service as well. Problems are “magically” resolved, which would be impossible if you are freight.

    Give me the damn status; I give away many miles to friends/relatives.

    The status actually means something. After flying in excess of 100K miles/year, who wants to get on another plane?

  • BuildingMyBento

    Hi TPG (and anyone who can help):

    For under 130K DL miles, and in J, I’d like to book the following itinerary: NYC-(AMS)-CAI (stopover-(NBO)-ADD, SIN-ICN-JFK. Is this possible, or would it be considered a RTW?

    ADD-SIN would be a revenue ticket.


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