Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Delta Raising Award Redemption Rates for Partner Flights

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It’s just another day at the office for Delta. The airline quietly “enhanced” its award redemption rates, this time for partner flights, specifically. In typical Delta fashion, no notice was provided — instead, travelers spotted the change and shared the news in a FlyerTalk thread.

For now, it appears that this rate hike only affects partner flights, which, as you’re probably aware, typically represent the most reasonably priced SkyMiles redemptions. The new rates take effect on October 1, 2016, but rather than simply applying to flights booked on that date, the higher rates also apply to flights you’ll book today, assuming the travel date is on or after October 1. That’s a very consumer-unfriendly move on Delta’s part.

Bali to Tokyo on Garuda Indonesia.
Bali to Tokyo in business class on Garuda Indonesia.

For example, I found a fantastic Delta redemption on Garuda Indonesia last year (here’s the flight review). At the time, that business-class flight required 40,000 SkyMiles, and it still does today. However, if you book for travel on or after October 1, 2016, the rate jumps to 50,000 miles, representing a 25% hike.

New York to Seoul on Korean Air.
New York to Seoul in business class on Korean Air.

Looking at a more popular redemption, New York to Seoul on Korean (in business class) jumps from 70,000 miles to 80,000 miles on October 1. That’s a much more reasonable 14% increase, but it’s disappointing to see, nonetheless, especially considering that Delta’s provided absolutely no advance notice here.

New York to Seoul in economy on Korean Air.
New York to Seoul in economy on Korean Air.

Fortunately, economy redemptions appear to be unaffected, as you can see in the example above.

Overall, this isn’t a huge blow — what’s far more upsetting than the rate hike, however, is that Delta’s provided absolutely no notice at all. If you were planning to redeem SkyMiles for a business-class partner flight on or after October 1, 2016, you’ll now need to use more miles than you did before. For customers who already had a redemption in mind, an unannounced action (like this one) can be infuriating.

Update: This doesn’t appear to affect all partner routes. For example, flights from the US to London on Virgin Atlantic (TPG’s favorite Delta redemption) remain at 62,500 miles each way in business class.

How do you feel about Delta’s latest rate hike?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named a 'Best Credit Card' for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Balance Transfer Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 5.00% Excellent Credit