Delta Devaluation 2016: Book an Award Flight to India Before It’s Too Late



Delta Devaluation 2016

Let me get this off my chest first

Delta SkyMiles is the most dishonest and unethical major U.S. frequent flyer program. Always has been and probably always will.

As a reminder, Delta doesn’t announce award changes anymore. They just change the redemption levels after a certain date. As a result, you don’t have a chance to book your travel at an old rate. Delta’s recent 12% increase of a business class award to Europe from 62.5K to 70K miles has become the latest offence in its unrelenting war against SkyMiles members.

In the past, I have ridiculed and defended Delta almost at the same time. The bits about coke and weed in Delta’s HQ was one of my most popular blog posts ever, as was the “Agonized, Tantalized and Analyzed” series (here are parts One, Two, and Three).

But that’s in the past. Removing the award chart and devaluing the redemption levels without warning are the worst possible transgressions for a loyalty program. Nothing comes even close to the Delta Devaluation 2016.

No wait, scratch that! Claiming that’s it’s “illegal” to warn members about devaluations tops everything else. So that’s that.

Look, devaluations are inevitable, and there are very few people who don’t understand that. We can hate excessive devaluations (and we do!) , but we know why they happen. Delta’s mode of devaluations is something else. Sneaky, arrogant and underhanded would just begin to describe it!

Is Delta better than everyone?

No. Probably not. I haven’t flown with Delta for about a year, and my last flight was in business from Reykjavik to JFK. It was OK. The crew was friendly, and the food was fine. The seats were domestic first, but it’s a short flight anyway.

However, would I have been any less satisfied if I had flown on the same route with American or United. I doubt it. I’ve flown business class with both, and they were fine, too. Not spectacular, but fine. Just like Delta.

There is an old Middle Eastern proverb: “Saying halva-halva won’t make your mouth sweet.” Delta marketeers know this is not true. Just keep repeating “Delta-Delta” and people might turn into believers. Many have.

It is probably true that operationally Delta is marginally better, and it’s certainly true that 9 across on a 777 is always better than 10, but that doesn’t mean that your personal experience on Delta’s other planes would be any different from AA or United. Me? In coach, I’ll take JetBlue over any legacy in a heartbeat!

Skytrax seems to support my stance. It gives 3 stars to all three: AA, Delta and United.  Interestingly, JetBlue gets 4.

Full list of Delta devaluations 2016 (from North America)

Devalues on October 1, 2016. All flights are business class, one way from North America

  • Australia/Pacific raises from 80K miles to 95K.
  • Asia from 70K to 80K.
  • Southern South America from 62,5K to 75K miles.
  • Africa from 70K to 80K.
  • South Africa from 80K to 95K miles.

Devalues on November 1, 2016.

  • ME (including Israel) from 70K to 85K.

Devalues on January 1, 2017

  •  Europe from 62.5K to 70K

Delta’s Devaluation 2016 Comparative Table 

I created a table for the Third Part of my  Agonized, Tantalized and Analyzed series to show how the Delta levels would stack against the competition. Little did I know back then…

This table is for business class redemptions in thousands (70 is 70,000 miles). Do note that the region definitions differ somewhat between the airlines.

Destinations American Airlines (/*oneworld) United Airlines (/*Star) Delta Airlines
Continental US 25






Alaska, Canada 25/30*


25 (30 to Alaska)


Hawaii  40






Mexico 25/27.5*






The Caribbean 25/27.5* C






Central America 25 (BEST)






Northern South America 30




Southern South America 57.5




75 (10.16) WORST
Europe 57.5




70 (01.17) WORST
Africa 75*




80 Africa (10.16)

95 South Africa (10.16) WORST

Indian Subcontinent/ Middle East/

South Asian Subcontinent & Middle East





70 Indian Subcontinent

85 Middle East (11.16) WORST


South Pacific /Southwest Pacific 80*


Australia/New Zealand Oceania 95 (10.16) WORST




Asian chart comparison is a bit more complicated, but Delta sucks anyway.

AA Zone 1 AA Zone 2 UANorth UASouth UAJapan DL Asia
60 70 70/80* 70/80* 65/75* 80 (10.16)

Here are region definitions for Delta, American, and United. I’m reprinting them from my older post just so you have all the info in the same place.

American Airlines/One World United Airlines/Star Delta Airlines/SkyTeam
ASIA ZONE 1: Japan, Korea, Mongolia JAPAN  NORTH ASIA: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Micronesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Russia (East of the Ural Mountains), Guam, Saipan.
NORTH ASIA: China, South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan
ASIA ZONE 2: Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam SOUTH ASIA: Bangladesh, Macau, Bhutan, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam SOUTHEAST ASIA: Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Vietnam
INDIAN SUBCONTINENT / MIDDLE EAST: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan CENTRAL ASIA/MIDDLE EAST: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Azerbajian, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel, UAE, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait MIDDLE EAST: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates (composed of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras El Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm Al Qaiwain), Uzbekistan, Yemen
SOUTH PACIFIC: Australia, Easter Island, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Tonga, Republic of Vanuatu, American Samoa and Samoa. AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand, Norfolk Islands, Australia (including Tasmania) SOUTHWEST PACIFIC: American Samoa, Australia, Christmas Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk
OCEANIA: American Somoa, New Caledonia, Cook Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Fiji, Palau, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Tonga, Guam,Vanautu, Marshall Islands, Western Samoa

Not all destinations belong to the same region as far as different airlines are concerned. Here are a few examples:

  • According to Delta, Bolivia is located in Northern South America, while American and United place this country in Southern South America. Conclusion? If you fly to Bolivia outside of AA OffPeak window, Delta gives you a better deal (and it’s always better in business).
  • Delta and American treat the Canary Islands is the part of Spain, while United places it to North Africa. Conclusion? Don’t fly to the Canary Islands on a Star Alliance carrier.
  • United believes that Micronesia is located in Oceania, while Delta puts it in North Asia. Conclusion? I don’t know, it’s a wash.
  • Delta’s Indian Subcontinent: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Indian Ocean Territory; India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Delta devaluation 2016 hasn’t affected India — yet!

But it will. You don’t think Delta is going to keep Europe and India at the same 70,000-mile level, do you? While paying 70,000 miles for a business class flight to India, especially with fuel surcharges, is not a bargain at all, it’s still a decent redemption that costs the same as with American and can be a better deal than United. This is the last decent business class level that the good folks at SkyMiles will increase really soon … any day now.

So if you want to maximize your Delta redemption and are interested in India (or the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka or other Indian Subcontinent countries) don’t delay and book now. Because no one really knows when it’s going to be too late.

Delta Devaluation 2016

I snapped this end-of-schedule screenshot with a purpose. Today is September 5 and a business class flight to India still costs 70,000 miles well into the next summer. How long is it going to last? What’s your bet?


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[…] Lazy Traveler Andy does not play around with his words on Delta and tells you to book an award to India before it is too late! The post also has a great table comparing Business Class awards between the three remaining legacy […]

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