What a speculation firestorm Gary and MJ started talking about the END of 25,000 Level 1 Delta awards from Karen Zachary the Managing Director, SkyMiles Global Program Management at Delta Air Lines, in a quote from the AJC:
“The 25,000 mile round-trip award fare that historically has been a standard for the airlines, I think you’re going to see that completely change,” – Karen Zachary
Gary implies this means that an end to 25,000 point Level 1 awards has been officially announced. MJ talked about this change as “touch[ing] Social Security”. In case you don’t get that comparison, a politician doing that is all but ending their life in politics as they will be kicked out of office for even thinking of doing this EVER!
So I reached out to Delta for some clarification on the quote and was told:
“The point she made was the UAL, DL and SWA all have programs that don’t track to 25000 miles (right, we’ve got 20000 miles) so it already exists. 25000 is still there, it’s just not the lowest.” – Anthony Black, Delta Air Lines
And here is where it becomes really problematic and my stand on all of this (and more). We clearly see on Delta.com they state that:
“Within and between the Continental U.S., Alaska and Canada, round-trip Award Tickets will continue to start at 25,000 miles (plus taxes and fees). One Way Award Tickets for 10,000 miles (plus fees and taxes) are now available to select destinations.”
So, for now, Delta.com says 25k is the starting point for Level 1 awards. Then again, and I can see inside your head right now, you and I both are thinking they have mislead us over and over again and have gone back on their word again and again and are not to be trusted (like the lie that the end of stopovers was just a bug).
Then where are we REALLY going. Here is the deal folks, Delta is, with stupid abandon, focusing on giving away coach seats with $kyRubles. They ARE making more coach seats available. This appears to be, from all my testing, at the cost of more space in business class both domestic and internationally as we 100% do know Delta never “gives” anything away. By offering up more coach seats they have to take something else away.
To put this in basic and simple to understand terms, the $kyRuble rich are subsidizing the poor. That is, those who are overspending for a business class award seat are thus offsetting the discounts for the cheaper coach class award seats.
This could also help explain why we are seeing so few Delta metal Business class Level 1 award seats to say Europe and beyond. If Delta can have you burn Level 2 or 3 Delta $kyRubles to get from USA to Europe and then ALSO spend even MORE points completing your trip to where you want to go then there is a corresponding point burn to pay for you sitting on the partner’s seat. Truly a brilliant business move to have us pay for what should be free with the Skyteam partner, but also reprehensible from a loyalty program to extract extra when it should be free.
So let’s boil all this down. Delta has hidden the award charts, but still uses them. In fact the 10k one-way “sale” awards are coding the same as a 12,5k award, that is “N” class Level 1 award, as you can see from the post with all the hidden Delta award charts. In other words it is just a Level 1 award “on sale” not yet another award fare class (even on 5,000 points one-ways)!
Will we see the day 25k base Level 1 round trip award tickets will go away? Oh I have no doubt they will end one day and maybe sooner than we think. All things points change and that is one of the only real truisms about this points game, that is nothing stays the same and devaluations happen all the time. As I said on Fox News points are NOT like fine wine and do NOT become better with age. Spend them. Spend them FAST. I am personally just one international Delta award business class Level 1 award from having almost ZERO $kyRubles left in my account.
Then we have the 500LB gorilla in the room to consider. Everything Delta does with SkyMiles does, to some extent, impact AMEX and the co-branded Delta AMEX travel cards. Delta has a fine line to walk in not making AMEX totally crazy. After all, if a SkyMile becomes just worth ~1 cent each then collecting SkyMiles is just ridiculously stupid vs. just about any other points on the planet!
Let me make this clear. I do not trust where Delta is going with the award program, including possibly seeing proof of dynamic award pricing now, and that is why I have all but stopped collecting their award currency. They have shown such disdain for us this year (and last) that I am sure more frequent flyer pain is on the way. I will still, for now, fly Delta and enjoy my Diamond status with it’s perks and redeem now and then when I have some points, but my focus on earning will be with programs that are not so deceitful as $kyRubles. I do not want to fly coach with my $kyRubles. If I am going to fly coach on Delta, I am smart enough to just spend cash or another currency like FlexPerks, Ultimate Rewards or Arrival+ points! – René
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