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Delta partner award prices skyrocket: Here's what you need to know

Oct. 29, 2022
4 min read
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Delta's "keep climbing" motto may now apply to the price of some SkyMiles awards.

It appears that without notice, Delta Air Lines increased the price of its SkyTeam partner awards to match its own flights, as first reported by Thrifty Traveler. While this could be a technical or similar short-lived error, this follows a 2021 increase in partner award prices and the airline's decision to axe partner sweet spots earlier this year. And without a published award chart, Delta has positioned itself to not be tethered to any set pricing model.

That includes flights on popular Delta partners like Air France/KLM, Korean Air and Virgin Atlantic.

This means partner awards that may have cost 120,000 Delta SkyMiles to fly in business class are now going for as much as 330,000 miles one way. Coach fares on trips to Europe that were as low as 35,000 miles now cost 65,000 one-way. That would mean a pretty substantial devaluation if this pricing sticks around. TPG reached out to Delta for comment, but hadn't heard back by publication.

Here's what you need to know about this potential Delta SkyMiles devaluation.

SkyTeam award prices match Delta's own flights

A KLM business class meal. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

For several years, Delta has used a dynamic pricing model on its flights, which means that the award prices fluctuate, just as cash prices do. However, a bright spot was that SkyTeam award prices were more stable, resembling the airline's since-retired award charts.

Right now, however, SkyTeam partners are pricing roughly in line with flights on Delta's own-operated flights.

Let's look at a KLM-operated flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).

DELTA.COM

Before this seeming devaluation, this flight would have likely cost 35,000 SkyMiles in economy. Now, however, the flight is priced at 56,000 SkyMiles. Incidentally, that is the same price as the least expensive Delta flight connecting through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

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The same holds on soon-to-be SkyTeam member Virgin Atlantic flights.

DELTA.COM

The Virgin Atlantic flight from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) prices at the same rate as Delta's own flight.

Take a look at the popular New York to London route. The pricing is pretty shocking, both for Delta and for Virgin Atlantic-operated flights.

DELTA.COM

In all these cases, Delta flights are now pricing the same as partner-operated flights.

SkyTeam cities without Delta service

Notably, the award rates we checked remain unchanged on flights that don't have Delta service and are only operated by a partner airline.

DELTA.COM

For example, Delta doesn't fly to Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), so the award prices on China Airlines flights from the United States remain the same as they have been.

Bottom line

In our test searches, Delta Air Lines is pricing SkyTeam partner-operated awards at the same less-than-ideal award prices as on its own flights.

On the bright side, assuming this is all intentional when Delta runs SkyMiles sales, there's a possibility that partner award prices will drop, but that's mere speculation at this point.

TPG has reached out to Delta for comment. For now, it's looking like SkyMiles are worth less than before for those who liked to redeem them to fly partner airlines.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023