How to prepare for what could be “Next” for our Delta Air Lines!

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It is hard to say how much worse the changes are going to be to not just for Delta’s frequent flyer program, but to ALL airlines frequent flyer programs. I talked about what I see on the way in a post HERE and my fellow blogger Gary Leff had his thoughts about our beloved airline.

But what really “burns” me up is people who email me or comment (whatever) and then say, I have 400,000 or 700,000 or over a million Skymiles. What – ARE YOU CRAZY? I always try to have almost ZERO Skymiles. As soon as I earn them I try to book with them. Now I do have a leg up over many Delta flyers as Platinum & Diamond Medallion flyers can book Skymiles awards and change them all they want up to 72 hrs before flight. I get that. But if you are NOT a medallion and if you KNOW the dates for next winter’s or spring’s trips, please think about booking them ASAP. Why? The below is not my travel plan for next year but it gives you the idea of what a business class ticket would cost to buy.

No way in this lifetime or any other am I going to spend almost $7000 to fly in business class to Sweden. I would and do many times a year burn 100,000 Skymiles each for Lisa & I to go, plus under $100 in taxes each.

But just think if tomorrow, or next month, Delta announces a change to each Skymile only being worth 1 cent across the board, but you can book any flight any day as a result of this change. Then, the above ticket would cost me 677,360 Skymiles compared to 200,000! Oh my is right. There is no way they will be able to go back and ask for MORE miles once you have booked so you see the logic of burning as fast as you can and lock in what you can sooner than later.

The 64 million dollar (or should I say 600 million powerball) question is will this happen tomorrow or next month? I doubt it and I do think it will be a disastrously stupid and financially destructive choice for Delta. That does not mean they will not do it, but if I only have under 100,000 Skymiles then if and when it happens I will be a happy camper and enjoy my last 3 or 4 trips in Delta’s international business class seats!

I hope you also see the logic of having other points that are NOT tied to an airline like Chase Ultimate Rewards from cards links INK & Freedom or the AMEX Membership Rewards points from Gold & Platinum cards (i.e. NON-Delta ones). Even those you must be careful not to allow to build TOO large a balance.

I fight to bring my point balance down to not come across as a hypocrite in saying all this. I do a great job with Delta Skymiles & with Chase but have well over ½ million AA/USAIR points now and need to burn up my last ¼ million United. I think Hotels are done for a little while causing mayhem so I am risking letting them grow just a little. Either way, I hope this makes you think and to by all means BURN BABY BURN those points! – René

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  1. Some of these changes may work for domestic travel. I think it would be hard to fill all of the international business-class seats if they go to a revenue-based system. Since Delta retains the right to change or terminate the Skymiles program at any time, it seems they are not a typical liability. Hmmm.

  2. Amen sister. Even as I approach 100K in either Delta or AMEX PR’s I start looking for low level Biz Elite to Europe.
    The thought of hoarding them seems counter-intuitive. Certainly the mile/point requirement is not going to drop!

  3. I’m down to 26k sky miles. Last ticket was a partial pay with miles in First to still earn Mqm’s.
    100k low level booked for a Europe trip late August.

  4. I honestly think Delta is already the most ‘marked to market’ legacy program out there. That is the reward structure is already pricing things for the future we fear.

    Very little 100k saver biz avail exists on Delta metal, and most of the partner avail has dried up. So the effective prices are often at best 2 cents per mile. Southwest, Virgin America, and Jet Blue are about 2 cents each with their revenue based programs.

    Aside from an incremental increase to low to like 120k to Europe doesn’t feel like there is some big imbalance in the system.

  5. Rene. I am trying to save 580k for my around the world in Business class retirement present to myself, with my wife. Unfortunately, it won’t be until Fall of next year, so I can’t book it yet. What is your opinion on this?


  6. @jon – it will be interesting to see what they do with RTW tickets. clearly all of this is speculation at this point but I would work to save and book them as soon as you can get it done. keep in mind you can transfer AMEX MR points to get it done faster if need be. (be on the lookout for good deals) and SPG points can also help you get over the top!

  7. Sitting on 415K Skymiles. Looking to go all out to Australia in next 4-10 months in Business with Virgin via LAX (150K pp). Can I fly from ATL on this point value to LAX or does it add more? Don’t want to get caught red handed !!! Thanks for all your info.

  8. Seems to me that cashing in is already so unbelievable difficult it’s almost not worth it! I was just playing around with flights later this summer to Europe and the only things left are high cost, insane routings with like 3 stops…. c’est la vie.

  9. Tyrell…I am not sure of your departure or destination cities nor your dates of travel but I just did a quick search on and found 15 days in August with low level business class seats between Atlanta and London. Just a data point for all.

  10. I generally travel to East Africa once a year with my wife, so I try to get 240k Skymiles in my account for 2 business class tickets and then redeem quickly. I succeeded in booking this year, but last year I tried for months and failed. I ultimately bought reasonable coach tickets outright on Delta/KLM. I really don’t want to give up on Delta, but just looking at all the options on Star Alliance award flights recently made me reconsider planning for the next time around.

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