Another day another devaluation: Delta axes more partner award sweet spots

Apr 6, 2022

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Delta has a bad habit of making negative changes to its SkyMiles program without any advance warning. Unfortunately, the airline is back at it again with another devaluation of partner award bookings.

If this sounds like déjà vu all over again, it’s because this is the third time Delta is raising partner award rates in less than two years.

In October 2020, Delta increased prices for many U.S.-departing partner awards and added close-in booking surcharges. Then, in February 2021, it raised rates even more for partner flights from the U.S. to Asia and Europe. But one sweet spot remained at old prices: partner awards to the Middle East.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Delta has increased prices and added close-in booking surcharges for partner awards between the U.S. and Middle East. This change was first discovered by Dans Deals.

Upon further investigation, TPG discovered that some awards to Northern Africa and India have also been devalued.

Here’s a look at the specifics.

For more TPG news, deals and points and miles tips delivered each morning to your inbox, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

In This Post

Close-in booking surcharges for U.S. to Middle East awards

Up until now, award rates between the U.S. and the Middle East, remained untouched. They used to cost 37,500 miles one-way in economy and 85,000 miles in business class with no close-in booking surcharges. These same rates applied even if you transited through Europe, despite those flights normally costing more miles.

For example, you could fly from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) via London Heathrow Airport (LHR) for 85,000 SkyMiles in business class, but if London were your final destination, you’d need to pay at least 120,000 miles (read: less flying, but more expensive). Unfortunately, this “loophole” is no more.

Related: The ultimate guide to Delta partners

saudia 777-300ER business class
(Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

Now, awards to Middle Eastern destinations like Tel Aviv and Jeddah get more expensive when you book at the last minute. You’ll pay extra miles for flights booked 21 to 59 days in advance and even more for flights booked within 21 days of departure. Additionally, Delta has raised the starting price for business class awards by 45,000 miles.

Economy awards to the Middle East now range from 37,500 miles one-way when booked at least 60 days in advance to 45,000 miles within 21 to 59 days, and 65,000 miles within 21 days of departure. That’s an increase of over 70% when booking at the last minute.

Delta economy award middle east
(Screenshot from delta.com)

Meanwhile, business class awards now start at 130,000 miles and jump to 175,000 miles within 21 to 59 days of departure, and a whopping 195,000 miles within 21 days of departure. That maximum rate is more than twice the cost of a saver ticket booked under the previous award chart.

Related: Everything you need to know about maximizing Delta SkyMiles award tickets

Delta business award middle east
(Screenshot from delta.com)

U.S. to Northern Africa and India tickets are slightly more expensive

Although the changes aren’t quite as significant, we also see higher prices for awards to Northern Africa and India.

Partner flights from the U.S. to Northern Africa now cost 40,000 SkyMiles in economy. Previously, these awards started at 35,000 miles. Luckily, business class awards continue to start at 95,000 miles on these routes.

Delta North Africa award
(Screenshot from delta.com)

In February 2021, we reported that awards to India increased to 120,000 SkyMiles in business class and 45,000 SkyMiles in economy. Previously, these awards cost 102,500 and 40,000 SkyMiles, respectively.

At the time, Delta didn’t upcharges awards booked closer to departure. However, now, partner economy awards cost as much as 55,000 miles and business class awards cost as much as 195,000 miles each way when booking close-in.

Delta india award
(Screenshot from delta.com)

Delta’s new partner award chart

Delta doesn’t publish an official award chart. Nevertheless, we put together an updated unofficial partner award chart to reflect these changes. Note that these are just the starting rates for each region, so they may be higher when booking closer to departure.

Destination Economy Business
Central America 17,000 miles 35,000 miles
South America 25,000 miles N/A
Europe 35,000 miles 120,000 miles
Middle East 37,500 miles 130,000 miles
Northern Africa 40,000 miles 95,000 miles
Southern Africa 50,000 miles 115,000 miles
Northern Asia 50,000 miles 120,000 miles
Southeast Asia 67,500 miles 165,000 miles
India 45,000 miles 120,000 miles

Bottom line

Delta has devalued partner awards yet again. The main victim of the latest round of changes is flights to the Middle East. Now, you could pay more than twice as much for last-minute business class awards between the U.S. and Middle East.

Although not as significant, some awards to Northern Africa and India have also gotten slightly more expensive.

With another sweet spot eliminated, it’s getting harder to justify earning Delta SkyMiles for international travel. It’s becoming very clear that Delta prefers members to redeem miles for their own flights rather than ones operated by partners.

Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.