Delta miles, an already low value type of miles, are being devalued further in 2014. The current award chart is only for flights flown by January 31, 2014. There is a separate chart for flights flown February 1 – May 31, 2014, and a third chart for flights flown from June 1, 2014 on.

For full details, see Delta’s Double Devaluation (Devalues its Devaluation) with No Notice.

The big changes are for business class awards. (You can’t book three-cabin first class with Delta miles at all.) This chart summarizes the roundtrip price in business class in thousands of miles on all three charts.

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Some of the absolute best Delta awards are going way up in price. See all my favorites in The Coolest Thing You Can Do with 25k to 150k Delta SkyMiles.

This post will focus on awesome ways that you can beat the Delta devaluation by flying awards in the next five months to great destinations on great products before the award price rises substantially.

Roundtrip Business Class to Europe

  • Flights through May 31, 2014: 100k roundtrip
  • Flights June 1, 2014 and later: 125k roundtrip

Award space through May is good by Delta’s standards since the peak travel period to Europe begins after June 1st.

Delta’s own European fleet has a lot of fully flat beds in business class, so I’d favor Delta business class over SkyTeam partners like Air France, KLM, and Alitalia, which are all searchable on delta.com.

The one partner that I would gladly choose over Delta is Virgin Atlantic, which is bookable on delta.com with no fuel surcharges. For more on booking Virgin Atlantic, see Roundtrip in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 100k Delta Miles and No Fuel Surcharges.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 1.10.54 AMHere’s an April award to Europe for only 100k SkyMiles + government taxes that features Virgin Atlantic Upper Class one way and a lie flat Delta bed on the return.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 1.00.34 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 1.00.41 AMRoundtrip Economy Class to Hawaii

  • Flights until January 31, 2014: 40k miles
  • Flights after February 1, 2014: 45k miles

The 12.5% jump in award prices to Hawaii is easily avoidable.

Award space on Delta’s own flights to Hawaii is pretty miserable until a few months before departure when some Saver space is released. Award space on Delta’s partner, Alaska Airlines, is far better.

Here’s a chart of economy award space from Salt Lake City to Honolulu next month.

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In the second half of the month, there is some space that just sneaks into the 40k time frame.

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Roundtrip Business Class to Australia

  • Flights until May 31, 2014: 150k miles
  • Flights after June 1, 2014: 160k miles

This jump isn’t huge, but Delta already charged the highest price before the devaluation.

Award space on Delta’s own Los Angeles to Sydney flight is horrific. Luckily Delta partners with Virgin Australia which flies from Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

The product is fantastic and award space is good.

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The only hiccup is that you have to search day-by-day to find space because the delta.com award calendar doesn’t include Virgin Australia flights.

If you searched Los Angeles to Sydney for next month–an awesome time to go to Australia–you’d see only Standard and Peak priced awards.

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But hiding  behind the calendar if you click on the day you want to travel, you will find some Virgin Australia space, all of which is priced at the Saver level.

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Roundtrip Business Class to Asia

  • Flights until May 31, 2014: 120k miles
  • Flights after June 1, 2014: 140k miles
  • Flights to South Asian Subcontinent Rise in Price on February 1, 2014.

Delta has several great partners to Asia. Korean has a great product, good award space, and is searchable on delta.com. Best of all Delta doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on Korean metal.

Another option with good business class award space is China Southern, which flies LAX to Guangzhou, China on an A380 with flat beds in business class and connections throughout Asia. In April, many days show up to five business class award seats. (Search on Expert Flyer and book by phone.)

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The drawback of China Southern space is fuel surcharges. A roundtrip from LAX to Guangzhou has surcharges of about $330 on top of the $50 in taxes. For more Delta partner fuel surcharge info, see here.

Getting the Miles

Delta miles are easy to get. There are Delta credit cards, plus Membership Rewards and Starpoints transfer in at a 1:1 rate. Here’s a list of sign up bonuses ordered from most to least SkyMiles.

Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR1)
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (35k)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (30k)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (30k)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR1)

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR1)
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express (10k)

Recap

Check Delta’s Double Devaluation (Devalues its Devaluation) with No Notice to see when and how much your desired award is devaluing. Remember that the devaluation date refers to the date of the flights, not the date of the award booking.

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