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Ever since Delta devalued their SkyMiles program, the internet has spared no words in mocking them. Delta has completely done away with award charts and introduced ‘dynamic’ pricing. What that really means is they can charge you whatever they want based on how their computers calculate a ticket price in miles.

Absurd Delta SkyMiles Pricing

The first victim of Delta’s changes has clearly been the pricing of premium cabin award seats. Some of the pricing has been irrational that most people have stopped checking redemption options for premium cabins by using their own mileage currency.

Yep, 115k Miles for a one way economy ticket

Flash Sales

After devaluing premium cabin redemptions, Delta has come up with ‘flash sales’. I’ve already been critical of these flash sales. I think that it’s largely smoke and mirrors. I’ve outlined reasons in this post as to why I think that these flash sales aren’t really that great.

Partner Redemptions

Many of us have simply transitioned and moved on to using Virgin Atlantic miles for premium cabin redemptions on Delta. I’ve outlined in this post that I tend to fly premium Delta cabins on domestic flights by redeeming my Virgin Atlantic miles instead of Delta’s own miles.

My Redemption

I was looking to book a one way flight from San Diego, CA to Mumbai, India using my Delta SkyMiles. I was not very fussed about flying in business or first.  Since I have a decent stash of miles available, I thought that I should give it a shot and see whether it works out.

Flight Options

Delta recently started a direct flight New York City (JFK) to Mumbai. I was initially trying to get an itinerary where I could fly SAN-JFK-BOM. However, thanks to Delta’s pricing, even flights in economy were absurdly priced, anywhere between 78,000-110,000 miles for just one coach ticket one way.

Over the years, I’ve flown on Delta’s partners from the US to India via Europe. Delta’s partners KLM and Air France provide decent connectivity from the West Coast to Europe and onward to India. After the demise of Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic had recently started flying the LHR-BOM route once again. I looked up flights and to my pleasant surprise, I found one that worked perfectly for me!

Redemption Values

In this case, the best option I was able to find was actually a pretty good deal. I found a flight which actually got my from the West Coast to India in just about 22 hours. That’s pretty excellent travel duration for a flight that long in distance. The itinerary included an initial flight on Delta from San Diego to Los Angeles. After a 1 hour layover, the remaining itinerary was with Virgin Atlantic, with just a one hour layover at London Heathrow.

 

Valuing miles and points redemptions is always a contentious task. Each one has his own way of looking at it. I looked up the price for the same itinerary found that the redemption value was indeed great in my case!

 

If you compare the cash price of the ticket to the 50,000 Delta SkyMiles that I redeemed, that’s an amazing 2.46 cents per Delta SkyMile redeemed. Given that Delta SkyMiles are consistently valued anywhere between 1.2-1.3 cents per mile, this redemption almost gave me double the value with my Delta SkyMiles.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

How do you earn Delta SkyMiles? Aside from flying frequently, Amex’s recently refreshed credit cards are offering lucrative welcome bonuses.

Credit Card Welcome Bonus Earns elite status?
Delta SkyMiles Blue Card 15,000 Miles No
Delta SkyMiles Gold Card 70,000 Miles No
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card 100,000 Miles Yes
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card 100,000 Miles + 20,000 MQMs Yes
Delta SkyMiles Gold Business Card  70,000 Miles No
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Card 100,000 Miles Yes
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card 100,000 Miles + 20,000 MQMs Yes

 

The Pundit’s Mantra

There’s no doubt that Delta’s ‘dynamic’ pricing is pretty absurd. A ticket in coach can cost you 100,000 miles whereas a ticket in Delta One can be priced as high as 200,000! While Delta has clearly muddied the waters by introducing no ceilings when it comes to pricing award tickets, you can still get value from Delta SkyMiles if you poke around and search for different combinations and new destinations.

When I was doing my award search for flights to India, I consistently found better redemption options and values while redeeming with Delta’s partners as opposed to Delta’s own metal. So it might be worthwhile to check for redemption options while flying international routes with Delta’s partners. While redeeming Delta SkyMiles for over 2 cents per point value is amazing, you’ll still have to skip premium cabins as the prices are outrageously high.

Do you still find Delta SkyMiles to be a valuable currency? How do you get outsized value on redemptions using your delta SkyMiles? Let us know in the comments section.

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