Delta’s Double Devaluation (Devalues its Devaluation) with No Notice

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Delta really is in a class of its own–and not in a good way!

Today it announced that it is devaluing its devaluation. August’s devaluation wasn’t kicking in quickly enough, so today there is a double devaluation.

In mid-August, 2013, Delta devalued its award chart effective immediately for flights that take place after June 1, 2014. Today Delta devalued that devaluation by putting in a new award chart for travel February 1 – May 31, 2014. The intermediate chart is worse than today’s chart, but better than June 1, 2014’s chart.

If you go to Delta’s award “chart” page, you will now see three charts.

  • Chart 1 is for travel until January 31, 2014
  • Chart 2 is for travel from February 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014
  • Chart 3 is for travel from June 1, 2014

This is very different from United’s devaluation. United’s new chart is for bookings made February 1, 2014 or later, regardless of when travel takes place. Delta’s devaluation depends on the date of travel, regardless of when the booking is made.

How do the three charts compare? For which routes did SkyMiles see the most and least devaluation? How am I beating the devaluation?

SkyMiles ignominiously joins Southwest as airlines to recently devalue their miles effective immediately. If you were planning to use your miles to book an award tomorrow for March travel, you just lost part of the value of your miles with no recourse.

While I’m as mad as anyone about the United devaluation–or am I? Am I?–United did its devaluation right in one sense:

United devalued its chart for bookings after a certain date instead of travel after a certain date. That means no one’s United miles were devalued last week. We can still use them until January 31 on the current charts for flights until early 2015. (That’s why I just used 70k United miles to book Asiana and Lufthansa First Class in September 2014.)

Delta, though, continues its shameful tradition of SkyMiles being the least valuable miles of the major airlines with today’s announcement that it will be devaluing its own devaluation.

Economy Charts

Below is a comparison chart I made of the current chart, intermediate chart, and fully devalued chart for economy redemptions from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada. All numbers are 1,000s of SkyMiles needed for a roundtrip.

The economy chart is barely being affected by either devaluation. The bad news today is that all three devaluations–Hawaii, Middle East, and South Asian Subcontinent–are being moved forward to February 1, 2014.

I think there’s a lot of room to complain about Delta’s economy award pricing. One hundred thousand miles roundtrip to Australia or Tahiti is insane when American Airlines only charges 125k miles in business class! But there’s not much new to complain about, since there were only very minor price increases for economy awards.

Business Charts

Below is a comparison chart I made of the current chart, intermediate chart, and fully devalued chart for business class redemptions from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada. All numbers are 1,000s of SkyMiles needed for a roundtrip.

Delta only operates two cabin planes. Internationally, the premium cabin is called Business Class. Domestically, the inferior recliner seats are called First Class, while the superior flat beds are called Business Elite. A slash on the chart indicates First Class/Business Elite pricing.

This is where the big devaluations occur, although most are still only scheduled to take effect June 1, 2014.

Domestic trips, trips to Hawaii, and trips to the South Asian Subcontinent see their increased prices take effect February 1, 2014 instead of June 1. But the other big miles inflations like the 25% increase on the miles needed for Europe, Argentina, and Brazil only take place June 1, 2014 still.

First Class Charts

Ha! This is Delta we’re talking about! Delta doesn’t let you redeem its miles for three-cabin First Class on its many partners that do have First Class.

Recap

Delta double devalued today. It’s devaluation of its miles for travel from June 1, 2014 on wasn’t kicking in quickly enough–or maybe United gave it cover–so it introduced an intermediate award chart from February to May, 2014, speeding up some of the increased prices.

Delta gave no notice of the change. If you planned to book an award for next March with your Delta miles tomorrow, you’re out of luck!

To summarize, Delta made SkyMiles less valuable, and gave no warning to avoid the devaluation. In other news, the Earth revolves around the sun.

To me, the move is ludicrous. The ill will from customers occasioned by a no-notice devaluation surely must exceed the few extra miles Delta will collect over the three months of the intermediate chart.

Bonus

American, US Airways, and British Airways haven’t devalued this year. As airline’s devalue one at a time, the value of holding a flexible point that you can still transfer to the non-devalued airlines increases. That’s why I’m glad to have 70,000 SPG Starpoints posting soon from getting the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and its business version. I can still transfer them to US Airways or American Airlines at a 20k points to 25k rate or use them as hotel points.

Hat Tip Gary


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39 COMMENTS

  1. Delta is a joke on so many fronts for award travelers. This only reinforces what a worthless program it is. But I’m sure Delta Points will tell us how wrong we all are…

  2. What a joke of an airline they are… I hope no one here has any Delta miles left! I am down to about 754… maybe it will get me a magazine subscription, not sure.

  3. Does US Air typically give a notice (a la United) before devaluing its miles?

    From what I understand, they haven’t changed their program in awhile. I have a good amount of US Air miles, but no particular redemption in mind yet. Don’t want to be caught off guard…

    • They haven’t changed their chart in so long, I don’t know what their “usual” is. If you want to use US miles on Star Alliance, you should be in full burn mode. I think they’ll be oneworld soon. As for devaluation, I see two paths: Either the combined AA/US chart will be far worse than either’s current chart OR we’ll get a two year reprieve during the merger, so that they don’t upset flyers or regulators. Hoping for #2!

  4. I am running out of credit cards to apply for. I figure the only way to be able to build up my bonus miles is to cancel 2 of my cards right now so I can wait 1 year, 18 months or 2 years so I can apply again for the same card. Those cards would be Aadvantage Citi that was activated on 11/08/2011 and Delta SkyMiles AMEX activated on 06/18/2012. The Delta was originally a Gold Delta SkyMiles Card but before the annual I changed it to the Blue Card with no fee. What problems do you forsee if I cancel these cards?

    • I doubt you are running out of cards. I recommend my Free Credit Card Consultation –> milevalue.com/free-credit-card-consultation

      The Citi card clock runs from your application not from cancellation. The AMEX clock does run from cancellation.

  5. United devalued US to India (one way business) from 60k to 80k, which is a 20k jump in a oneway. So the new price for a roundtrip business US to India is 160k.

    Delta is now 140k.

    I think that’s the first time Delta awards have been cheaper than United. (Granted, their availability for cheap awards is practically non-existent, especially on delta.com.)

  6. United devalued US to India (one way business) from 60k to 80k, which is a 20k jump in a oneway. So the new price for a roundtrip business US to India is 160k.

    Delta is now 140k.

    I think that’s the first time Delta awards have been cheaper than United. (Granted, their availability for cheap awards is practically non-existent, especially on delta.com.) a

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