Delta Air Lines, General

Delta tries to screw customers again over MDW – this time on Virgin Atlantic award flights

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While most of us we enjoying family BBQs and saluting our troops, the folks at Delta were hard at work figuring out how to make your Delta Skymiles less valuable than they were before the weekend.

Quick sidebar: Approximately a day after enacting these fees and much uproar on the Interwebs, the fees magically vanished as quickly as they appeared. But since there’s been no official comment from Delta that I am aware of, we don’t know if it was a mistake or if these fees will be back for good soon. One thing Delta does not have from its members is trust.

What happened this time?  Delta began imposing a surcharge on Virgin Atlantic award flights. A round trip award on Virgin Atlantic was now showing at 170,000 miles round trip plus over $1,200 in fees. That’s up from $270 or so in fees.

Outrageous, right? You bet it is.  I’m not spending over $1,700 worth of miles only to have to pay another $1,200 in fees! You see, of the $1,200, more than $900 was a fee known as YQ, or a fuel surcharge. It’s essentially just a “because we can” airline-imposed junk surcharge, though, because it is *completely* unrelated to fuel prices (which, by the way, are near all-time lows).  The existing $267 in fees on a JFK-LHR-JFK itinerary is full of legitimate taxes and fees. England charges a hefty tax known as ADP on 1st and Business class departures. No way around that unless you depart your transatlantic flight from another country. But the additional $900 was pure JUNK and all Delta fliers should take the attempt to charge it as an insult.

There’s greater reason for why this one seemingly small thing has me so worked up.

That reason is Delta’s complete lack of transparency these days with the Skymiles program.

A couple of years ago, the Delta award charts vanished from  There simply is none. Enthusiasts like myself know there are essentially up to 5 levels of each award type, plus new additional costs for partner award travel. We know they also keep changing the chart, like late last year, with no advance notice.

When it comes to New York to London travel, I know from memory that just a few years ago it was 50,000 each way in Business Class. Then that became 60k, then 70k. Then partners like Virgin Atlantic became surcharged to 85k each way. So a partner award in Business has gone up 70% in a few years! And now they are even THINKING about throwing another $1,000 surcharge on top of this?!?!

And don’t even get me started on US-Australia which on any remotely peak days will run you an INSANE 750,000 miles round trip.

To summarize, Delta:

  • Routinely increases the cost (in miles) of awards with no notice.
  • Does not publish an award chart, preferring you just take their word for what an award flight should cost.
  • Has attempted in many/most cases to peg the value of your Skymile to just 1 penny a mile, meaning that “aspirational” uses of Skymiles for your dream trip in Business class are harder and harder to come by (see my note about 750,000 mile round trips to Australia).

They basically want our loyalty but refuse to earn our trust.

I hope these surcharges were just an IT glitch, but if not it would be yet another major insult to Delta’s loyal flyers.

I’d like to officially call on the powers that be at Delta to reconsider the way they do business with its most loyal flyers. Communicate changes to the program to us in advance. Give us a chance to use our miles before a devaluation. And maybe, just maybe, leave some things alone so that we can take some great trips with our miles that leave us telling others about the great trip we just took with our Skymiles instead of how we were able to “burn some” because we are tired of being treated this way. That’s just Marketing 101.

HT: One Mile at a Time and his Twitter follower @kabirobhan)