I’m not going to make this a “the sky is falling” post about Delta SkyMiles. It may well be an isolated case, but I found it interesting enough to post about – mainly to see if any of you have encountered similar award pricing.


We know with Delta that the price is the price when it comes to awards. On Delta metal, the price fluctuates minute to minute and an award costs whatever it does.

We’ve seen them increase the price on partners before. In Dec 2017 I wrote about some business class partner awards to North Asia being repriced from 95,000 to 125,000 miles (I believe this was close to the date of travel).

Just this June, I reported that I was finding NY – London Upper Class awards on Virgin Atlantic for 135,000 miles one way.

Fast Forward to Today:

Trying to price a one way ticket from New York to Male in the Maldives, I saw expected partner pricing on China Eastern for 95,000 miles. This is the “expected” saver / partner rate to Asia. While it’s not clear in the screen shot, this is a mixed cabin itinerary, with PVG-MLE in coach. I believe it would be the same 95,000 miles in all business, though.

But then there was a two-stop option, EWR-LHR on Virgin Atlantic, LHR-PVG on Virgin Atlantic, and then PVG-MLE on China Eastern.  All partners, no Delta metal at all. As  above, EWR-(LHR-)PVG is in Business and PVG-MLE is in coach. The only real difference is routing via Europe and with two partners.

The price? 161,000 SkyMiles.

Why Am I Writing About This?

Because it’s unexpected. It’s not the base expected rate from the US to Male. It’s not including any Delta segments. And it’s pricing at a “dynamic-esque” level. Meaning that it’s not 160,000 miles. It’s a very “dynamically precise” 161,000 miles (one way).

If it had been a “round number” I might have thought it had to do with transiting Europe or something, but there is no routing rule I’m aware of that would make something cost 161,000 SkyMiles.

What do you make of this? Have you encountered similar?

Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards

New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.


  1. I thought Delta was dynamic regardless of the operating carrier? JFK-OTP on AF/KLM always has a different price, regardless of carrier. Or are you referring to wholly-non-Delta-codeshare itineraries as well?

  2. @Jacob: so is it additive pricing because the connection is in Europe? Or because it’s Virgin? Or both? I thought if Deltamatic showed it then it was a valid connection for one award. But this would be additive pricing. Hmm.

  3. @George: most partners still follow a saver level award chart even though there is no chart. AF/KL are fully dynamic but DL is not. Are you saying when you fly to OTP using Delta miles on AF/KL you get dynamic pricing? Or something else?

  4. VS +SkyTeam airline awards can trigger additive pricing like Jacob said. I don’t have a full sense of what triggers it or not, for example my April SEA-LHR-CDG-CAI was additive no matter how I tried online and with the Diamond agents. Plus a few hundred extra in junk charges beyond additive. I did not use the award ticket.

  5. I pulled up the record I referred to, book as a roundtrip the best I got in economy was 85k miles roundtrip plus $729. Adding up all the published taxes and surcharges, the best I could deduce is they added in some European origination fees as if they were awards departing there even though a roundtrip from the US:

    Air Transportation Charges
    Base Fare

    $0.00 USD
    Carrier-imposed International Surcharge (YQ)

    $510.00 USD
    Taxes, Fees and Charges
    United States – September 11th Security Fee(Passenger Civil Aviation Security Service Fee) (AY)

    $5.60 USD
    United States – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Fee (APHIS User Fee – Passengers (XA)

    $3.96 USD
    United States – Immigration and Naturalization Fee(Immigration User Fee) (XY)

    $7.00 USD
    United States – Custom User Fee (YC)

    $5.77 USD
    United Kingdom – Passenger Service Charge (UB)

    $78.70 USD
    France – Civil Aviation and Airport Tax (FR)

    $17.80 USD
    France – Passenger Service Charge (QX)

    $34.50 USD
    Egypt – Service Charge (EQ)

    $1.00 USD
    Egypt – Departure Fee (JK)

    $2.80 USD
    Egypt – Embarkation Tax (QH)

    $25.00 USD
    United States – Transportation Tax (US)

    $37.20 USD
    Total Charges $729.33 USD
    TOTAL TICKET VALUE 85,000 Miles and $729.33 US


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here