UPDATED 3.16.19: Did Delta Raise the Saver Business Class Award Levels to Europe (?), AND The Best Value About Every Delta Flash Sale Is in the Routes It DOESN’T Advertise

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I’m reposting it due to an important update.

UPDATE 1: Gary Leff alerted me that Delta did raise its minimum redemption levels but only on its own flights; he was right, and there is something else.

  1. It only raised on Delta metal. The other SkyMiles partners, like Air France, for example, are not affected.
  2. I’ve checked multiple destinations from JFK and Detroit and I’m reasonably confident that the devaluation will take place starting October 2019. There are still 128K flights available for booking until September. HT: VFTW

UPDATE 2: Per Frequent Miler’s comment, the lowest Delta redemption rate you’re seeing below is for Basic Economy. Regular economy will cost a little more. HT: FrequentMiler

Thanks Gary and Greg!

End of Update (also updated throughout the post).

Every blogger and their mother has written about how Delta has raised its Business Class saver award levels to Europe to 105,000 each way. That caused a new wave of indignation about how SkyPesos have turned into bolivars and the new round of pledges not to use them ever again. And yes, I will cover the latest Delta flash sale later, just let’s get this thing out of the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are three things I need we must remember.

  1. The devaluation starts in October 2019 on Delta metal, but not SkyMiles partners.
  2. Delta SkyMiles are still valuable (although not in all markets).
  3. We have to be careful about our pledges never to use someone again. We don’t have an infinite number of frequent flyer programs to play with.

Gary was the first to write about it in this VFTW post, which was then picked up by everyone else. I don’t think Gary is entirely correct in his reading, and here is why.

Devolution of a Delta Business Class Award

Delta SkyMiles has gone a long way from a barely functional award chart allowing only round-trip redemptions with a stopover to a more modern award chart that allowed one way redemptions — to no award chart at all.

A saver (least expensive) Business Class award seat to Europe used to cost 100,000 miles per round trip, then (after the SkyMiles revamp) it became 50,000 per one way flight, then 62,500, then 70,000, then 82,500. Then the SkyMiles award chart ceased to exist.

Gary believes it hasn’t, and it’s still being used for Delta’s own internal purposes. And now, according to Gary and others, they bumped it once again to 105,000 miles per one way travel or 210,000 miles round trip. He based this assumption on a few searches he’d performed for December 2019. He is correct that this is the new minimal pricing, but only for flights on Delta’s own metal and only after October 2019. The SkyMiles partners aren’t affected for now.

not delta award sale JFK-CDG winter round trip
Delta One JFK-CDG award seat in January costs 150,000 miles, not 210,000.

Moreover, even though Delta often prices its one-way flights at more than 50% off round trip, it’s not the case here. You can still get a one-way flight for 75,000 miles — which is definitely not a bargain, but that’s beside the point.

not delta award seat jfk-cdg one way 75,000
… and 75,000 miles one way

There are tons of flights to Europe available at even lower rates

I could’ve stopped there, but decided not to because in reality things are even better than that. There are still plenty of Business Class seats available at the 128,000-mile Delta “award sale” price (per round trip) in the summer. If a picture is really worth a thousand words, here are my 4,000. ๐Ÿ™‚

Paris in the summer?

delta award sale JFK-cdg 128K
The Delta One award sale is long gone, but the 128K rate is still available for flights to Paris

Dublin is available, too.

delta award sale jfk-dub
128K for Delta one JFK-DUB

And Venice. Not too many dates, mind you, but still.

delta award sale jfk-vce
… or Venice

And Barcelona.

delta award sale jfk-bcn
… or Barcelona

The thing is: Delta REALLY doesn’t have an award chart anymore

I know it’s still hard to fathom, but that’s a fact. What SkyMiles does have is a set of vague references based on the old chart. Some time ago, Delta decided to sell their seats — both award and revenue — at the highest price the market would bear. That’s what they’ve been doing ever since, and they have been nothing but consistent in that regard.

The proof that Delta has completely abandoned its chart even for internal use is in the pudding. Most of the rates you see nowadays have nothing to do with the old values. The Delta 128,000-mile “award sale” is not from the old chart — that would’ve been 125,000. The 140,000? I haven’t seen that in a while. The 172,000? Yes, I see that rate sometimes, but also 150,000, 180,000, 375,000, and whatever number Delta’s HAL wants to throw at us.

Great values of the new and old Delta’s flash sales

When you take a quick look at the Delta flash sale deals advertised here, you can’t help but applaud: boy, do they have gall!

delta award sale -- bad deals
Front Page Delta flash sale “deals” — some are awful!

29,000 miles for Atlanta to Chicago? 46,000 for Atlanta to San Diego? In Economy? That’s just rich!

But see, Delta has never been your open-book airline (well, no one is, but Delta’s less than anyone). Delta wants you to read between the lines. Seek and you shall find. Seek, don’t ask … ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are just some gems (which may or may not have something to do with this sale), and it only took me minutes to find them.

delta award sale jfk-lax
Some real Delta flash sale deals: New York to Los Angeles for 9,000 miles

One pic: Boston to Austin

delta award sale bos-aus
… Or Boston to Austin for 5,500

Here are other notable deals I’ve found (one way unless stated otherwise):

  • New York (JFK) to Las Vegas (LAS): 8,000 miles
  • New York (JFK) to Miami (MIA): 5,000 miles
  • Detroit (DTW) to Philadelphia (PHL): 10,000 miles
  • Chicago(ORD) to Seattle (SEA): 9,000 miles
  • Minneapolis (MSP) to New York (EWR): 16,000 RT
  • Seattle (SEA) to Baltimore (BTW): 19,000 RT

Have you noticed something? Most of these flights do not have anything to do with the latest Delta flash sale because:

Fares
Starting at 11,000 miles round-trip plus taxes and fees, round-trip purchase required.

However, most of my findings, except for the last 2, are one way levels. The chances are, they are either current regular prices or the remnants of the Delta flash sales long gone. Unfortunately, finding bargains from some Delta hubs, especially Atlanta, is always an uphill battle.

Don’t swear off Delta SkyMiles. In fact, don’t swear off any FFP. Ever!

Delta sucks? Sure. Not this time though, but yes, certainly. However, so do American and United. We can’t stop doing business with an airline every time it does something unsightly. Because they do unsightly things all the time, and we don’t have an infinite number of airlines to play with.

Instead, just remember the old adage “The best revenge is living well” and act accordingly. Book Delta flights when they’re the cheapest and ignore them when they’re asking for your firstborn.

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9 Responses to UPDATED 3.16.19: Did Delta Raise the Saver Business Class Award Levels to Europe (?), AND The Best Value About Every Delta Flash Sale Is in the Routes It DOESN’T Advertise

  1. Nice post. Sadly, lately when I’ve come across great domestic award prices like those you published, they were for basic economy. Regular economy may cost much more. For example, NYC-YYZ for 10K round trip is basic economy, whereas regular economy is priced at 15k (still a good deal, but worth mentioning).

  2. Gary Leff says:

    The 75,000 mile one way business class awards you’ve posted above for JFK-CDG are for Air France across the Pond. Restrict the search to Delta metal and pricing is.. 105k.

  3. Billy Bob says:

    Until yesterday, anything out of one of my home bases (ICN) to Europe one-way in first was 80K. It’s now 90K. I’d never seen that particular number before but I sure can’t find the once-semi-plentiful 80K fares.
    I’m actually glad. I can sometimes find economy fares to LON through CAN or PEK from here for less than $200 — a small multiple of the bus fare to the airport (and I’d like to see a Chinese carrier go after them at their int hubs too)! In addition, this should help me burn my Delta stash down to nothing even sooner and then kiss Delta good-bye until my next life, when I once again become eligible for an Amex Delta of some sort. See you (and Delta) then.

  4. Sam says:

    Is there any logical reason DL would price awards on partner metal less than those on its own metal? Iโ€™d guess itโ€™s an IT or contract issue. Either way, Iโ€™m not holding my breath that this will hold up.

    A question: For an itinerary involving a domestic flight on DL metal, connecting to an international flight on partner metal, does it price as a partner itin or the higher DL itin? Thanks very much.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      1. You’re right. It’s usually the other way around. But Delta. Is. Strange.

      2. From a limited sample size I’ve seen it seems the international carrier defines the rate. Like JFK-BOS-CDG on AF will price lower than TATL DL.

  5. john says:

    @Andy are you saying 75k (AF) or 105k (Delta) miles to Europe is a good deal? or am I missing something?

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