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Last week I wrote about how Delta devalued SkyMiles, yet again, by increasing the prices of awards flying partners to:

  • Europe in Business Class, now 85,000 miles instead of 70,000
  • North Asia in Business Class, now 95,000 miles instead of 80,000
  • Australia in Business Class, now 115,000 miles instead of 95,000
  • South America in Business Class, now 100,000 miles instead of 75,000
  • South America in economy, now 35,000 miles instead of 30,000

At the time of writing that post, however, there remained one loophole for getting your award to price at the pre-devaluation, lower level. When an award included a segment on Delta–even if it was a short connection to position for an international partner flight or to get home at the end of an award–it was pricing as though it was solely flown on Delta. It was like getting a 15k to 25k discount just for flying a tee

Looks like Delta got around to updating the glitch, as that is no longer the case. Mixed carrier awards will price at the lower level if the longhaul flight is Delta, as it should, but mixed carrier awards with the longhaul flight on a partner will now price at the more expensive partner award price.

What the Loophole Used to Look Like

For whatever reason, a Delta segment in addition to a flight on a partner made the award price at the cheaper, pre-devaluation level… as though the whole thing was flown on Delta. Even if the segment was just a hop between two close cities in the United States before the international flight on partner metal, it still priced cheaper.

The award below consists primarily of a transoceanic flight in China Eastern Business Class from the US, with a short hop before from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Yet instead of costing 95,000 miles, like it would if it was just the Los Angeles to Shanghai flight on China Eastern, it priced at 80,000 miles.

Screenshot from Delta.com on April 11, 2017
Screenshot from Delta.com on April 11, 2017

I said last week that I wouldn’t be surprised if Delta updated the system so that the award price was defined by who flew the long haul segment, and now they have.

What Happens Now

Let’s look at how delta.com prices the same award above–a screenshot taken a week ago–now.

No more loophole. The short hop between San Francisco and Los Angeles is on Delta and the longhaul is on China Eastern, and it’s pricing as a partner award should–at 95k.

How to Handle the Continual Devaluation of the SkyMiles Program

Yes, Delta’s behavior towards their frequent flyer program sucks and it makes saving SkyMiles seem futile. Unless you live in Atlanta or a city solely served by Delta, or are miles omnivores that will take whatever they can get like Scott and I, the Delta cards issued by American Express are probably not the right card for you.

But there are still high value redemptions to be had in the land of SkyPesos. And Delta does periodically put their awards on sale, like the current Flash Sale that lasts through the end of the day tomorrow–105k roundtrip in Delta One and 50k roundtrip in economy to Argentina, Chile, and Brazil for travel August through mid November.

To get the best of both worlds, collect Membership Rewards instead of SkyMiles so you can transfer to Delta if a good opportunity arises but aren’t stuck with a continually devalued currency. Here are some of the top Membership Reward earning cards right now…

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

Bottom Line

Delta increased the price of partner awards to all over the world last week. For a week, awards booked with a short Delta segment before or after the longhaul partner flight would price at the same (lower) level as an award flown completely on Delta.

This loophole was obviously an error in Delta’s system and has since been corrected, as such a flight will now price at the more expensive partner price. The award price is determined by whatever carrier flies the longhaul flight, despite any other shorter segments (same as United).

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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