Skymiles

Delta award calendar charging MORE FOR MEDALLIONS on awards than non-medallions! #KeepDescending!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


i am traveling checked one

I think my head is going to explode. We have yet another bit of price fixing and gaming from Delta (we already know they do bait and switch with awards). Take a look at this search when I have the box “I am traveling” checked from Detroit to Chicago one-way in March.

i am traveling checked two

I get the “all-new Award calendar, it’s now easy to search for and see prices for Awards online” (Delta.com’s words). It shows me the price for the month of March 2015. If I say choose the 4th look what happens.

rene dm logged in delta-com

I get the “lowest” price of 17,500 points for this one-way trip. But is this really the lowest price?

me traveling 17500 delta-com

And if I go all the way to the final page it is ready for me to buy at this award price.

final buy as me on delta-com 17500

OK I have now unchecked the box and am just doing a search for anyone but me as a loyal Delta Diamond Medallion flyer.

i am traveling not checked one

Let’s see what we find. I am sure it will be the same as Delta has told us that elites NO LONGER get more award space due to the amazing new award calendar (also a reason they are hiding the award charts, btw)

i am traveling not checked two

Wow! Look at the 4th of March. Let’s see what happens when I click on that date?

not me logged in to delta-com

Oh space is open for 12,500 points for this one-way trip.

not me 12500 points delta-com

And I can take it all the way to final booking then tell Delta.com NOW that yes I am the one traveling and get the lower award price. But who would know they have to trick Delta.com to not be penalized for being an elite?

final award seat putting name in at the end

Please understand just how bad this is. Again, Delta is telling the WORLD that the new award calendar is so good. They are telling medallions they are being rewarded MORE for spending more. But that is good news since we have again just proven if you tell Delta you are an elite it will cost you MORE of your SkyMiles! – René
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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

64 Comments

  1. This is a pretty awful discovery. I am not at all surprised, as I think companies have been trying to do this for a while. Wasn’t there a story a few years ago about a search engine displaying higher prices to someone running iOS on their computer under the assumption that Apple users were more affluent? There was also a news story in Minneapolis a few years ago where a couple of frequent flyers noticed that the one signed into their account was getting quoted a higher airfare in cash than the one who wasn’t.

    So, this is pretty bad and hopefully Delta gets publicly flogged for it. But, it’s not new.

  2. Wow. Guess I’m going to have to start trying it both ways. Of course as a mere GM maybe I won’t get hosed as much as you DMs. 🙂

  3. I am more than disappointed and I can’t wait to hear the spin Delta puts on this. I wish this could bring legal action upon them and they would have to publicly apologize on every social media platform. It is disgraceful that this is allowed to happen and makes me all the more energized to bring my business elsewhere.

    • @Scott – There is NOTHING illegal about taking more miles from medallions. It is just beyond sad and sickening!

      • Rene, out of all of the shenanigans that you have exposed on your blog about DL Descending, I think this is one of the most blatantly outrageous examples of greed, manipulation and outright disrespect for their most loyal customers. It is downright shameful and I hope your blog gets press worldwide and you are invited on all news shows to exploit this discovery. My hat is off to you Rene. Thank you very very much for showing the world the underbelly of their underhanded and disgusting acts of price gauging and hypocrisy. I am sick to my stomach.

  4. That’s how much Delta cares for its loyal customers. Meaning, they couldn’t care less!!!!! Their mandate is: Let’s suck all their Skypesos as fast as we can until we decide they are worthless.

  5. Ugly. Deceptive. Could this be an IT problem, rather than a concerted effort by Delta to mess over their best customers? But this is what happens when you mess with your best customers. No credibility, Delta.

  6. I think it’s time for the “loyal” supporters of Delta to [show them the door]!

  7. That’s one of the many reasons I am a frequent flyer “free agent.” #keepdescending

  8. Don in ATL Reply

    I hope some mainstream travel reporter picks up on this and calls DL out publicly. If it’s on purpose, it is unconscionable. If it’s out of incompetence, I would hope it makes them rethink removing their award charts and putting their trust in the obviously broken award search engine. Either way, it reflect very, very poorly on DL. #keepdescending.

  9. Wow. Just when I think Delta has reached a new low, the bottom falls out and they go and get worse. What a scam.

  10. John DELTA Reply

    @Rene –

    Are you in contact with ANYONE from Delta Corp? I mean, what do they have so say? Or is no one talking to you anymore?

    Thanks for continuing to expose these for all of us!

  11. A couple of days ago there was a discussion by two commenters on this blog about whether DL or AS was a better run airline. The DL supporter pointed to stats like on time performance to make the case that DL was better run, For me, any company that disrespects and out right cheats its best customers is not a well run company regardless of performance stats. DL has succeeded in destroying my trust. I will do anything in my power to avoid doing business with a company I cannot trust. There are alternatives to DL, and they will get my business.

  12. WOW!!! This last year has been astonishing and this latest move by Delta is the worst of them all since it totally sticks it to their most loyal customers in every way. This stinks because I just got into the Miles & Points game two years ago and I have spent a lot of $$ (including $$s on the Delta CCs and several paid mileage runs on Delta metal) along with many other planned trips to build up to Platinum status. Now, it seems all to have been for what? Just to get hosed with costing me MORE Skyrubiles than non-elites.

    They should go ahead and get to their end goal here and stop stringing it out week by week. Just END the damn SkyMiles program entirely and tell everyone whatever we want on Delta planes is based on what we are willing to pay for…period. They obviously don’t believe they need to cater to loyalty anymore. They are totally confident with so few options remaining (only two other legacy carriers, one mid-sized carrier and a few smaller, more regionalized carriers) that they have by far the best product and for most routes there is no real competition so they must have been convinced the loyalty program is not needed. I believe this is where they are headed. So, why not get it over with now instead of doing it this way.

    Thanks Rene for giving us the real scoop on what’s happening since Delta reps stay silent while holding big hammers in their hands.

    I will instead speak with my wallet. Unless this proves to be a big IT mistake, I will stop my Delta flight and CC spending immediately and move over to AA who (at least for now) seems to care about my business and loyalty. Their product is not quite as good and the routes aren’t as friendly for me…BUT I respect a company who respect me…at least until they too get out their hammers.

    Delta just gave the HI HO to EVERY loyal customer they have ever had.

  13. Might be easier to complain to the FTC and the CFPB. So the 7 of you who still fly Delta might want to file complaints with screenshots and see if anything happens.

  14. This has to be a mistake. It has to be. Tell me it is.
    But I don’t think so.

    I’m halfway to diamond this year. I’ll go for diamond again for 2016 and then move onto AA. Cheaper flights. Better routes from my home airport. In flight service isn’t as good, but it’s not a choice anymore. They are forcing us to make the move. Just like they are forcing their FAs to unionize.

  15. Pingback: Delta Currently Charging Elite Members Extra Miles to Book Award Tickets That Everyone Else Can Get for Less - View from the Wing - View from the Wing

  16. I am not sure that this just started. I have noticed in the past that I found more availability at low level when I searched logged out in an incognito browser than when I did logged into my account as a gold med.

    Just another of many reasons why I switched to AA this year even though that means a flight on ERJ to go anywhere.

    • I hope Delta Medallion Desk and Marketing is reading all of our comments. I hope they get flooded with tickets showing bookings on other airlines. Alternatively, I don’t begrudge the employees for getting raises and bonuses. As a former airline employee, I know how little they have gotten for decades. This is for once, a deserved accolade. All that being said, we, the customers, pay them their salary and we too should be given some accolades in the forms of honesty, transparency and preferred pricing, both in dollars and miles. I want to see this story on all media outlets tonight and tomorrow and an immediately apology and compensation by Delta to it’s DM’s. I personally wrote to Delta, demanding a response, as to this practice we saw today. I asked if it was an IT glitch or policy and told them in no uncertain terms how disappointed I was and that if this is policy, I would be booking ALL future flights on any other airline but Delta. And I will.

  17. Sick… just sick Delta! I just redeemed most of my miles and booked my last few trips on US Airways instead of Delta.

    Sigh Delta 🙁

  18. I am going to say that this is a huge IT messup. They do not intend to do this and it will (eventually) get fixed.

    Why do I say this? For one reason only: there is no possible way anybody who could get a job at DL could be so stupid as to think this would go unnoticed.

    Knowing the reaction when it was discovered, they would’ve announced it ahead of time. Seriously. Again, I am not saying they wouldn’t do this. I’m just saying they wouldn’t do this on the down low, knowing the wrath they would endure when this hit the news.

    • @Joseph N – What about those who were over charged? Delta is making more money than ever. They can not afford to fix this? They KNOW the award page is broken. That is why, IMO, they are hiding the award charts. Or, they could be doing this on purpose to suck more points from elite’s who have tons?

  19. Santastico Reply

    @JosephN: Sorry but I think you are being very naive. Delta has shown many times how much they don’t care about customers and how greedy they are. Delta stock is up almost 50% in the last 12 months so it clearly shows their strategy is right for their shareholders. HOWEVER, their customers are the ones directly responsible for their financial results. THUS, if us (including myself) stopped flying them their financials would be hurt and they would be forced to find a balance between being greedy and having happy customers.

    • @Santastico – Have to agree. Think about this – They have some of the BEST IT to run an amazing operation. I think EVERYONE would agree with that – it is stunning and unmatched. How can the same folks have the same level of incompetence in SkyMiles unless they WANT it to be this bad?

  20. Santastico Reply

    @rene: I don’t buy the theory of incompetency. It is on purpose. They have no intention to let customers find great deals when redeeming miles. It cost them money and their operation is all about making money. See what they did with the way you get miles. The more money you spend, the more miles you make. HOWEVER, we don’t realize those miles are becoming more and more worthless. It is a false sensation you are getting something from them but instead they are getting from you. Also, how many business travelers (like me) really pay attention on what Delta is doing with their loyalty program? Not many people read travel blogs. In my case, I know they don’t care about me but I have no choice since I live in a Delta hub and flying non stop makes all sense since I have more time to spend with my family. Thus, since most of my flights are business flights I even spend more money to fly Delta since it is more convenient for me. Delta knows that and that is why they keep doing what they are doing with customers like me.

    • @Santastico – I really wish I could find fault in what you said. But I can’t. Last year I would have – not now. #EyesAreOpen and I hate it.

  21. Rene,
    Thanks yet again for opening our eyes to the shenanigans the “NEW Delta” is sticking it to their loyal customers that have shown loyalty to Delta and flown them while building up their skypeso balances only to find out now that they are being scammed. Surely this cannot be true due to the publicly shared corporate operating principles of “honesty and Integrity”. Is that just airplane video smack talk? As a Diamond Medalion- Million Miler this is just another strike against DELTA. I guess they truly don’t give a damn about their frequent fliers. #Delta Betrayed

  22. John DELTA Reply

    Fact: This is an enormous company with some amazing computer resources! They are hands down the best in domestic operations…and the same resources are on hand to fix ANYTHING they desired with any frequent traveler program.

    If it was an aircraft operational issue it would be fixed. Done!

    They have exactly what they want!

  23. Probably just the first step of a two-step process whereby they raise it to 17,500 for Medallions this week, and to 5,436,000 for everyone else next week. Delta deserves absolute zero (negative 273.15 degrees Celsius) in trust and loyalty at this point. The “awards” program is on a tailspin to worthlessness.

  24. AlohaDaveKennedy Reply

    John – this old auditor and fraud examiner agrees that it looks like the fix is in. We can trust Delta no further than we can trust Bernie Madoff.

  25. Pingback: 2015 Delta Air Lines Master list of devaluations, cuts and #KeepDescending events! - Delta PointsDelta Points

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  27. Dont you think this is intentional? They know that as a Diamond you are much more likely to get upgraded so it technically costs them more money because they lose money on someone paying an upgrade fee. This is an economic calculus.

    • @Nick – Who knows. There is so little trust left with Delta it is just too hard to say.

  28. Pingback: Opinion: Delta needs to scrap SkyMiles 2015 & win back our trust. This is how to do it. - Delta PointsDelta Points

  29. That is just crazy! If anything, it should be the opposite! Unbelievable that they would do that.

  30. WOW! This is truly amazing. I have noticed when pricing fares for cash it always seems that the price is higher the second time you look. This usually after the Delta website “times out”. (which happens frequently) Many times I found that it would show the lower price if I used a different PC, Why? I have no idea. This has been going on for a few years.

    Now that you bring this award pricing to light it reminds me of the many times I have booked awards when the final price was different than the price initially shown. I always thought it was due to seat availability constantly changing – but this is too coincidental.

    All of these comments about the issue being an “IT” problem are somewhat amusing. It seems as though the majority of the Delta problems are written off as an “IT” problem.

  31. Just one more thing to dislike Delta over. I feel as though I’ve worked hard to earn my points with them and now they do this……unbelievable.

  32. Appalled you say ? As a DM, this is the perverbial “straw”. I see multiple lawsuits filed today, for which I will be seeking class action status.

    Let the games begin !

    • @Dejamo – Not trying to be flippant or in ANY WAY trying to make fun of your comment but for what (i.e. lawsuits). It is a frequent flyer program. They can legally do ANYTHING they want and change anyone anything they want. Period. Yes this is sad, maddening and insulting to loyal flyers but not against the law – as I read it anyway! 🙁

  33. Rene,

    I would like to chalk this example up to the broke IT award charts. I have looked at award flights and then restarted a search to find the awards either much lower or much higher within several minutes, without unchecking anything. I now book as soon as a reasonable award flight comes through and then continue to check for a lower amount.

  34. Crushed! I’m just crushed. 🙁
    As part of our retirement plan, my wife and I have been saving our Skymiles for many years. What a punch in the gut to know our travel retirement account (Skymiles) are in a recession and heading to a depression. Now I’m depressed.

  35. John DELTA Reply

    As with EVERYTHING Delta this past year…when they tweak the program for their next rollouts, they get caught sometimes early (example: eliminating stopovers in late 2014…which were a permanent rollout in 2015 program + many others).

    This time, they just got found out early as they are changing everything on March 1st!

    WE”RE STUCK AND THEY ARE THE MOST UNTRUSTWORTHY, DEVIOUS, LYING, CHEATING THIEVES (thievery through excessive miles & dollars charged because of their ‘IT glitches’ when they say “oh just call, our reps will price it right for you…”)

    Can’t wait until I am free of this program…I had a LOT of flights booked & paid for…but after my Award flights…WE’RE OUTTA HERE and so are ALL of my EMPLOYEES!

    #DumpDELTA

  36. Pingback: Is Delta Charging Medallions More for Award Redemptions?

  37. John DELTA Reply

    I am now seeing higher prices whether I am logged in as DM, my wife as a GM or an employee (on a separate computer, browser) with NO STATUS.

    Comments on FT this morning reflect this: “I’m seeing higher prices across the board today, even when I’m logged out.”

    And the perfect response: “Well, there you go. Problem solved….”

    Of course, that would be DELTA’s solution!

  38. Richard Anderson is simply not to be trusted. With little competition, full aircraft & seemingly no legal recourse for participants, he is free to make any changes to the Skymiles program. I can only hope that eventually the current Delta corporate culture bites him in the butt…or rather the corporate wallet.

  39. Am I allowed to say, “I told you so.” I found this to be true back in October when I was trying to book three award flights and the lowest round trip fare I could book was 42000 for an economy ticket all the way up to 62500. I didn’t take any of those three trips . . . The thing that really hurts is the aspirational trip I thought we’d make once my husband decided an airplane ride and a hotel stay was ok to do for vacation. We’ve always had enough points for the two or three business trips that I accompanied him on in a years time so I didn’t mind not finding a 25000 award ticket. I feel like delta is begging its most loyal flyers to go somewhere else!

  40. Rene,

    They better be able to prove it was an IT issue, and come clean ASAP.

    Do you remember May 2012 ? I do. For a period of about 20 days, elites were overcharged for flights in comparison to non FF’s. Even though ultimately, it was settled. It was too conveniently dismissed for revenue generation hacks to go unscathed.

    The “Customer Comittment” in the fine print, and the Breach of Good Faith, are 2 starting points, which are in the filings I have seen.

    Since this is still in it’s infancy, I’ll be curious to see how long it is going to take them to go all Jimmy Swaggart on the airwaves.

  41. dotti cahill Reply

    SAD and disrespectful to us who travel more with them ??/ not a way to treat your peeps….

  42. I have seen the opposite happen as well. a search as silver medallion required more miles for an award than the same search as a diamond medallion

    • @AL – In years before – THAT is how it was to work. There was greater low level space for higher elites.

  43. Pingback: Delta Air Lines responds to award "pricing issue" where Medallions were overcharged! - Delta PointsDelta Points

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