Delta Raises Lowest-Level Business Award Rates to Europe

Aug 31, 2016

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Hoping to use SkyMiles for business-class flights to Europe next summer? If you haven’t booked already, your round-trip flights just got (at least) 15,000 SkyMiles more expensive per person.

For flights departing after January 1, 2017, Delta’s lowest-level business-class awards are now pricing at 70,000 SkyMiles each way. You can still get the old award price of 62,500 SkyMiles each way for flights departing between now and the end of 2016. Unfortunately, this change was made with no advance notice — meaning it’s already too late to book 2017 flights at the old rate.

This is in contrast to United’s upcoming award policy changes, which gave two months’ notice to book award flights under the current rules. American Airlines gave four months’ notice before its large devaluation this March. Of course, since Delta removed its published award charts in February 2015, there would be nothing to for Delta to give notice of!

Delta's award prices from Atlanta (ATL) to Madrid (MAD) in business class.
Award prices one-way from Atlanta (ATL) to Madrid (MAD) in Delta’s business class.

Indeed, these type of changes seem to be the “new normal” for the SkyMiles program. Just this January, Delta raised the award rates for partner flights departing after October 1, 2016. Again, this change was made in the background without any communication or confirmation from Delta.

Availability on Air France's nonstop from Houston (IAH) to Paris (CDG).
One-way availability on Air France’s nonstop from Houston (IAH) to Paris (CDG) using SkyMiles.

For those new to SkyMiles: Delta charges a wide range of award rates for its own flights. However, flights on Delta’s partners will always price at the lowest level. Otherwise, these flights aren’t available at all. As you can see in the example above, there’s clearly a change in this lowest level starting January 1. Before the end of 2016, all available award flights on Air France are pricing at 62,500 miles vs. 70,000 miles starting January 1, 2017.

If you’re looking into traveling to Europe in business class and have a variety of points/miles, there are cheaper options available — even on Delta and Delta’s partners Air France and KLM. Post-change, the lowest-level business-class award rates to Europe across the major US-based award programs are as follows:

One-way flight to/from Europe
departing after January 1, 2017
Air France/KLM 70,000 62,500
American Airlines 50,000 57,500
American Airlines partners 57,500
British Airways 60,000 57,500
Delta 70,000 125,000*
Delta partners 70,000
Emirates 105,000
Icelandair 55,000
United 57,500
United partners 70,000

*One-way prices the same as round-trip

Bottom Line

In what’s becoming a frequent occurrence, Delta devalued its SkyMiles yet again. Since the airline doesn’t have published award charts, it can make changes to its hidden mileage rates at anytime. The carrier likely hopes that no one will notice when it does so, but we’re going to continue to call these changes out when we see them.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

Were you planning to use SkyMiles to travel to Europe in 2017?

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