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Delta has been waging a long war with SkyMiles members who want to use their miles for international Business Class flights, the most lucrative awards in the program.
And it took an ugly turn this year with a series of quiet, unannounced price increases that have left it with the most expensive awards among the big 3 U.S. frequent flier programs.
The latest bomb to drop:
Raising the U.S. to India award from 70,000 miles one way to 97,500 miles one way, nearly 40% higher overnight, with no advance notice, and higher than other Delta awards of similar distance.
Taking all the price increases into consideration, here are the current one-way prices for awards from the U.S. on Delta’s partner airlines (which are typically the lowest prices you’ll pay with SkyMiles):
|Within US||5,000 - 12,500||25,000|
|Mexico / Caribbean||17,500||30,000|
|Northern South America||22,500||40,000|
|Southern South America||30,000||75,000|
|Europe||30,000||70,000 (85,000 partner)|
|Middle East||35,000 (42,500 partner)||84,000 (85,000 partner)|
|North Africa||35,000 (42,500 partner)||70,000 (85,000 partner)|
|South Africa||40,000 (50,000 partner)||94,000 (115,000 partner)|
|India||40,000 (50,000 partner)||96,000 (120,000 partner)|
|Southeast Asia||40,000 (50,000 partner)||80,000 (95,000 partner)|
|North Asia||35,000 (40,000 partner)||80,000 (95,000 partner)|
|Japan||35,000 (40,000 partner)||80,000 (95,000 partner)|
|Australia / New Zealand||45,000 (55,000 partner)||94,000 (115,000 partner)|
At this point, for international Business Class, only two awards are remotely competitive:
Europe – at 70,000 miles one way, or 140,000 miles roundtrip. It’s not a great price, up from 62,500 miles one way and 125,000 miles roundtrip, and it’s a lot more than you’d pay to fly one of United’s flights at 57,500 miles one way and 115,000 miles roundtrip. Award space is pretty good, which is harder to say about United or American awards to Europe.
But it’s a decent deal for your miles compared to spending $4,000 or more for a ticket, though if you’re really flexible you can sometimes grab cash tickets for around $2,000 roundtrip, in which case 140,000 miles isn’t a good deal at all.
Asia – at 80,000 miles one way to just about everywhere in Asia, even deep Southeast Asia. This is still a reasonably competitive rate, and tickets often run $4,000 – $5,000 in cash, so you’re getting good value out of your miles.
We wouldn’t advise stockpiling Delta miles – use them as soon as you can.
And this is a big warning if you have a lot of miles with United MileagePlus, which hasn’t raised award prices in almost 3 years. They could be next, but we hope they see the case for offering better value than Delta or American.
And they at least have a track record of giving ample notice of changes, so you should have some time to respond.
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