Yesterday, I penned my “last word” on SkyMiles until we see the new award chart post. I might have provided a short opinion piece on the history of the domestic airline industry too. Sorry. 🙂 Hey…it’s my name at the top, but on to our show. When I typed that on Tuesday night, I had no idea that I’d be writing on SkyMiles again so soon. As I wrote here earlier, Delta actually decided to go ahead and release its 2015 award charts. Now that I’ve had a little time to soak things in, I wanted to offer some additional commentary.

There is good news in that there was no bloodbath as a few had expected. Delta says that “of the 44 Award level pricing changes, more than 95 percent of the changes reflect a decrease in the miles needed for Award Travel redemption.” As far as I can tell, that’s the case. I rarely redeem for coach travel, so I focused my study on first class and Business Elite where the news is mostly OK.

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Your bread and butter domestic first redemptions remain unchanged, save two extra tier options (Level 2 and Level 4) at 65,000 and 90,000 roundtrip respectively. The former mid-tier price now known as Level 3 actually dropped to 75,000. Redemptions to Europe remain mostly unchanged as well, with reductions at the former mid- and top-tier prices. You can click on the image for an excerpt of the chart, or here for all of the new U.S. and Canada originating award charts.

Why Did They Wait?

I have my suspicions. While I’ve never agreed with the argument, I really do believe that someone at Delta convinced themselves that an early release of this information was tantamount to price signaling. In fact, they’ve said as much in the past. While no one resorted to violence that I am aware of, I believe the emotional reaction to the announced changes without inclusion of an award chart might have been loud enough to convince someone at Delta to take a second look at their conclusions. Believe me, I’m only speculating here. Nonetheless, I commend Delta for being willing to not just bury its head in the sand on this one. As I said yesterday, not releasing the award chart was the wrong decision. Correcting the mistake, the right thing to do.

What Does it Really Mean?

In my opinion, not that much. I think it’s great that Delta released the 2015 award chart so we can now make better informed decisions. In the end, a lot of SkyMiles members are going to be earning fewer miles than they have been so just because there’s no disaster on the redeemable miles side does not mean that you are not negatively impacted. Remember – you have to do what’s good for you.

The Real Test is Yet to Come

I’ve already written that these changes are not a bad thing for me. They are not a bad thing for many. In my mind, the real test will be in 2015. We have a promised award calendar repair on the way. We have promised better availability at the lower levels on the way. Color me hopeful that Delta will keep those promises.  Right now, I have a Delta flight to book.

-MJ, March 6, 2014