Delta Air Lines

Delta Removes Yet Another Good SkyMiles Redemption in the Dark of Night

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Upgrade Awards

Remember those? On many carriers you can book a coach ticket and upgrade using a fixed amount of miles (sometimes with a co-pay and subject to being booked in certain fare classes).

The availability issues alone make them an advanced level redemption, but they generally represent great value for miles when you can pull them off. A couple of years ago I landed a mileage upgrade on Delta’s LAX-JFK route. It only cost me 30,000 miles on top of my $219 fare. The cash ticket for Delta One was over $1,000. I can’t remember exactly what it would have been, so let’s use $1,000 even and we can see I yielded about 2.5-3 cents a mile (and my ticket still earned miles and MQMs).

Delta Quietly “Enhances” Upgrades

Airlines love to use the word enhancement to spin program devaluations as improvements. For example, “Our customers didn’t like having free meals with a limited selection, so we removed the free meals and replaced them with paid cold items to better enhance our service and provide what our customers want.”

On Feb 16th, Gary Leff at View From The Wing reported that Delta has done away with fixed mileage upgrades entirely in favor of the roughly 1.1 cent in value you get from their variable upgrade/upsell scheme.

Apparently these fixed upgrade awards were pulled from Delta’s ticketing system on Feb 12th with no notice.  Add this to the list of loyalty infractions by Delta in recent years topped, of course, with the removal of Award Charts (the award cost is what they say it is) and the lack of notice of continual “enhancements.”

My upgrade that was 30,000 miles would have been over 75,000 miles in the new system. 

This is yet another reason I value Delta SkyMiles the lowest of any legacy domestic carrier in my miles and points valuation page.

Am I being too harsh? Let me know! –  on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.  

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