Delta devalues SkyMiles again, partner award rates skyrocket

Feb 5, 2021

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Delta doesn’t publish an official award chart but has kept mostly standard pricing on partner tickets. The airline devalued many U.S.-departing partner awards last October, adding close-in booking surcharges and increasing prices on many awards.

Today, the airline has again devalued partner bookings across the board.

As first reported by One Mile At a Time, we’re now seeing higher pricing on all partner flights from the U.S. to Asia and Europe, regardless of airline partner. Business-class tickets were hit the hardest, with price hikes as high as 25,000 SkyMiles on a one-way ticket.

These were also devalued in October when the airline increased one-way business class partner flights to Europe to 95,000 SkyMiles and Asia awards increased to 102,500 SkyMiles. Now, we’re seeing these flights start at 120,000 SkyMiles one-way.

Here’s a look at the specifics.

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In This Post

U.S. to Europe tickets are significantly more expensive

Virgin Atlantic 787-900 at HKG Airport
(Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

U.S. to Europe awards saw the biggest devaluations this time around.

For example, this Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Paris (CDG) flight operated by Air France now costs 120,000 SkyMiles in business and 35,000 in economy. The flight in question departs nine months from when we searched, so the increased price is not due to close-in booking.

This flight would’ve cost 95,000 SkyMiles in business class after the last devaluation, representing a huge 25,000-SkyMile increase in price. Thankfully, economy flights have remained the same as in previous months.

ORD to CDG SkyMiles Partner Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

We’re seeing the same pricing on other routes too. This Virgin Atlantic flight from  Los Angeles (LAX) to London-Heathrow (LHR) flight is priced the same as the Chicago to Paris flight discussed earlier.

LAX to LHR SkyMiles Partner Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

U.S. to Asia award prices raised across the board

Korean Airlines 777 at PRG Airport
(Photo by Senohrabek/Shutterstock)

Moving onto Asia, we’re seeing higher prices to all parts of the region after this devaluation.

For example, this Korean Airlines flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN) would have cost 102,500 SkyMiles in business class and 40,000 SkyMiles in economy under the previous devaluation. Now, it starts at 120,000 and 50,000 SkyMiles for business and economy class, respectively.

LAX to ICN SkyMiles Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

Partner flights from the U.S. to Southeast Asia now cost 165,000 SkyMiles in business and 67,500 SkyMiles in economy. Business-class previously cost 147,500 in business on these routes.

LAX SIN SkyMiles Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

Finally, flights to India have increased to 120,000 SkyMiles in business class and 45,000 SkyMiles in economy. Previously, this award cost 102,500 SkyMiles in partner business class.

JFK to DEL SkyMiles Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

Some close-in booking surcharges increased too

Remember, these awards get even more expensive when you book at the last minute. Delta introduced close-in booking surcharges on partner awards with October’s devaluation. Some of these have stayed the same while others increased.

Last-minute flights to Asia now cost 62,500 SkyMiles in economy when booked within 20 days of departure. These cost 50,000 after the previous devaluation.

JFK to ICN SkyMiles Award Last Minute
(Image courtesy of Delta)

On the other hand, a Virgin Atlantic flight departing 21 to 59 days from the date of booking still cost 170,000 SkyMiles one-way in business class and 40,000 SkyMiles in economy.

JFK to LHR Close-In 21 to 59 Day SkyMiles Award

Thankfully, some award tickets remain untouched — for now

A handful of awards haven’t been devalued. Most notably, you can still book partner flights from the U.S. to the Middle East for just 85,000 SkyMiles in business class and 37,500 in economy. This is the case even if you transit through Asia to get to the Middle East.

LAX to DXB SkyMiles Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

Likewise, intra-Europe flights have remained at pre-devaluation price-points. This KLM flight from Paris (CDG) to Amsterdam (AMS) costs the same 10,000 SkyMiles in economy and 25,000 in business class.

Intra-Europe SkyMiles Award
(Image courtesy of Delta)

Delta’s new partner award chart

As mentioned, Delta doesn’t publish an official award chart. Nevertheless, we put together a new unofficial partner award chart to reflect today’s changes. Keep in mind that these rates 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 (25k increase)
Middle East 37,500 miles 85,000 miles
Northern Africa 35,000 miles 120,000 miles (25k increase)
Southern Africa 50,000 miles 115,000 miles
Northern Asia 50,000 miles (10k increase) 120,000 miles (17.5k increase)
Southeast Asia 67,500 miles 165,000 miles (17.5k increase)
India 45,000 miles (5k increase) 120,000 miles (17.5k increase)

Bottom line

Delta isn’t holding back on devaluations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year’s changes were hard enough to stomach, and this round of award price hike puts Delta’s award pricing way ahead of the competition. This will make it harder for many travelers to justify earning Delta SkyMiles for international travel.

When asked about the devaluation, Delta released the following statement to TPG:

“Delta regularly evaluates Award Pricing which can result in the increase or decrease of the mileage amount you need to purchase an Award Ticket.”

I think this is a trend of things to come for Delta SkyMiles. The airline has distanced itself from SkyTeam over the years, instead opting for independent partnerships. Now, the airline is making it clear that it wants its members to redeem miles Delta-operated flights.

Feature photo of Virgin Atlantic A350 Upper Class by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski 

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