Delta SkyMiles is the loyalty program people love to hate. It’s been an industry leader in making customer-unfriendly moves. From changing award prices with no warning (and claiming to let members know in advance is illegal), eliminating award charts, rewarding miles based on the price of a ticket and not the miles in the air, and dynamic award pricing which makes SkyMiles more like a fixed value program. If you look at the values of awards, Delta would really like it if you redeem your miles for 1 cent each.
If you can find a Delta premium cabin flight at the base award price, it’s usually cheaper to use miles from Flying Blue or Virgin Atlantic to book it instead of SkyMiles. That’s what I did when we flew from Frankfurt to Orlando (on Delta’s worst long-haul business class, no less!).
The last time I used Delta’s program for anything besides domestic flights was when I redeemed 55,000 SkyMiles for premium economy on Virgin Atlantic to London.
If there’s any silver lining to Delta’s approach to the SkyMiles program, it’s that I no longer hoard SkyMiles. With some programs, I’ll hang onto my points for an aspirational trip. Like when I used points from American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus to book flights to Japan in business and first-class.
I’m usually terrible with the earn and burn mindset, and I earn more points than I use but not with Delta. If we’re looking to fly with them, I’ll always see if it makes sense to use points instead of paying cash.
For example, we needed to book positioning fights to/from New York for our flight to Iceland. The only airlines that fly from Orlando to JFK are Delta and JetBlue. We decided on Delta because of a combination of price and timing of flights.
We’ve flown on Basic Economy with Delta before and it’s not for us. Main cabin seats it is.
I noticed something interesting when I looked at the prices in SkyMiles.
While the later flight is $28 more expensive for everything except first class, the SkyMiles price is the same. However, we were looking at the earlier flight. How much are SkyMiles worth for this redemption?
We booked 2 tickets for 20,000 Skymiles and $11.20. The cash price for the tickets was $276.80.
That comes out to about 1.32 cents per SkyMile. That’s better than the 1.23 cents each or 1.14 cents each or 0.89 cents per point vault I found when looking for flights earlier this year from SFO-MCO.
For the return flights, the cash prices were higher and so were the miles required. When I did the math, I got the same 1.32 cents valuation for those tickets.
I’m glad to redeem SkyMiles for this value. I no longer look at Delta SkyMiles as a program to accumulate miles for future redemptions. I don’t actively try to earn them either but there are occasionally some great sign-up offers for the Delta co-brand cards from AMEX if you’re eligible. When you see a 70,000 point SkyMiles bonus, think of it as $925 credit for Delta flights and not some way to fly to Europe in Business or first class for free.
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 21,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary