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Another SkyMiles devaluation on the way June 1st, 2016 (& other SkyMiles changes)

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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.

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Talk about timing (after this morning’s post). Delta has announced today a bunch of negative changes. They are giving us advanced warning (shocking) but not telling us what the changes will be (not shocking since they HIDE the award charts). But the bottom line is Delta is for a 3rd time in as many years devaluing SkyMiles! Here is what I received from SkyMiles spokesman Anthony Black today:

“We know your miles are important, so we want to provide the most notice possible regarding Award price changes. For travel on or after June 1, 2016, the number of miles needed will change based on destination, demand and other dynamics. Most Award prices will remain unchanged. Miles needed to upgrade under the Mileage Upgrade Award program will increase, and to provide greater access to these upgrades, we’ve expanded the eligible types of fares.” – BOLD MINE

Yet another nail in the coffin toward revenue based awards and your guess is as good as mine as to just how nasty the devaluation will be. I also find it interesting that upgrade award pricing is also going up as that, for big spenders, has been one of the last great values for SkyMiles. Soon those will cost more than they do already. Sad!

Next we have more bad news confirmed, that is, higher award costs inside the 21 day window. One of the great values, in the past, of SkyMiles was being able to book a last minute flight with miles vs. paying a stupid amount in cash. That is much harder now. Take a look:

“When we announced the SkyMiles 2015 program we committed to making more award seats available at the lowest prices and compared to last year, we’ve increased Award availability by more than double at the lowest prices to make it easier to use your miles. You’ll also find One-Way Awards starting at just 7,500 miles (plus taxes and fees) now through February 2016. To see the best availability and deals, search at least 21 days prior to departure and use our Award Calendar by selecting “flexible days” when searching for a flight.”

So, it is good they are here and there going as low as 7,500 SkyMiles (we have seen as high as 750,000 RT as low as 5,000 OW this year) but many times you are better off just paying cash if a ticket is really low. As to using the award calendar – it is what we have and we know to search leg by leg to get value from our points!

Now some tiny good news, but in all honestly it just fixes what has been a complete #FAIL anyway, that is, soon those who have Regional Upgrade certificates can use them for all transcon flights. I was informed:

“For Diamond and Platinum members we are introducing greater flexibility with your Medallion Choice Benefits. Effective July 21, 2015 you can use Regional Upgrade Certificates in addition to Global Upgrade Certificates for a Delta One™ seat on eligible transcontinental flights between New York – JFK and Los Angeles – LAX or San Francisco – SFO. Regional Certificates are part of the wide array of Choice Benefits Diamond and Platinum Medallion members are able to select upon status qualification.”

Again, good news but something that should have been in place since the outset. Now if Delta really wanted to make a change and make the Regional Upgrade certs worth so much more they would allow them to be used from ATL & MSP to Hawaii instead of needing a Global Upgrade cert. Ah well, give them credit for fixing something that needed to be fixed!

What do you think of this latest round of SkyMiles news? – 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.


  1. Rene – given that Delta has already removed the award charts, do you think they will even tell us specifics about the devaluation?

  2. laptoptravel Reply

    “Most Award prices will remain unchanged.” How will we ever know? There’s the rub, Delta.

    RA you’re gonna kill the love!

  3. According to MJ on Travel:

    Big news from Delta SkyMiles today. First, the good news. Effective July 21, 2015, you can use Regional Upgrade Certificates (RUCs) to upgrade eligible transcontinental flights from JFK to LAX and SFO. This is an actual enhancement for Platinum Medallion members who can only earn RUCs.

    That’s some good news from DL!

  4. This bodes ill. Then again, so does almost everything Delta does lately.

  5. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    At least they’re giving us 11 months notice. That’s actually pretty good.

    I’m not convinced Delta will raise the price of award tickets anymore than the maximum price now. It doesn’t make sense, as they’ve essentially already implemented what they claim will take place next year because the award chart has disappeared and many, if not most, redeemers don’t have the knowledge, experience or time to search — by phone or internet — for a super-low award redemption.

  6. Do you have a suggestion on which miles program is actually better if we decide to switch from a more expensive and devalued program? We flew biz class RTW on miles last year and just learned from your site that they discontinued this awesome program as well. Ever since the 2015 changes, we’ve seen a huge decrease in benefits for our loyalty to Delta. Any suggestions on partners to realign our loyalty?

  7. Seems like this isn’t really news so much as it is a confirmation of what they’ve already been doing since earlier this year. For me, the only real value to SkyMiles is using them to redeem on a partner airline at the lowest level. Rene–any rumors in the mill as to when the next great partner devaluation will occur?

    • laptoptravel Reply

      @FNT Delta Diamond –

      No, you’re mistaken.They’re only giving us a few days notice since flights for June 2016 will shortly become bookable on the forward-rolling 330 day calendar.

      Many of us will be ‘test-booking’ just to see that net effect.

  8. When I got this email all that I could see in the subject was “SkyMiles Program Dev” my mind immediately finished it with Devaluations…and boy was I right. It’ll be interesting to see what the other airlines do in the next few months, but my loyalty may be switching soon…

  9. So does this mean that the “hush hush” Diamond upgrades on the Transcons without a GUC will now go the way of the Dodo Bird as well and now Diamonds will not get upgrades again unless they use a cert?? I guess doesn’t necessarily shock me and why this is my last year as a Diamond.

    • laptoptravel Reply

      @jer –

      The same question was on my mind. My upcoming LAX-JFK-LAX segments still say “Not Upgrade Eligible”but they have always said that.

      I’m calling the Diamond Medallion line later today to get that answered.

      • @Laptotravel – I can not post more for now but let me know what you find 😉

  10. Am I interpreting this correctly in that the devaluation has already occurred.

    “For travel on or after June 1, 2016…” meaning, if you book it today, for July 2016, the new dynamic BS pricing applies.

    Can you confirm if that’s what they meant and did? Or should it read ‘for travel BOOKED on or after …’

  11. Santastico Reply

    The more I fly Delta (I am a hub hostage), the more I try to understand the love and hate relationship I have with them. On one side they are destroying their loyalty program by charging whatever they feel like for award trips. Nobody trust them and they could not care less since they have a CEO that brags they are the best. On the other side, as a business traveller I have to agree that Delta usually treats me very well. They run by far the best operation among all US airlines, don’t lie to customers by saying they offer international first class like AA and United do and they are pretty generous on the amount of miles you get if you pay big dollars for your ticket. So far this year I got over 60,000 miles for a business class round trip MSP-AMS and several 10,000 plus miles for very short haul flights they charge over $1,000 for it. I just got 9,000 miles for a 500 mile distance flight which is not that bad in my opinion. Thus, if your company pays for your ticket Delta is the best US airline you can get.

  12. @laptoptravel…if you could share what the Diamond line has to say that would be great. I haven’t made my 2015 choice selections and it may influence my choices. 🙂

    • laptoptravel Reply

      I plan on sharing my findings regarding my already TransConflights.

      First, after my conversation with the DM Desk tonight ( I am traveling right now…doing the Hyatt Diamond Challenge)

      Secondly, upon my completion of both segments

  13. Nothing new here move on 😉 I remain hopeful that someday the mother ship allows PMs to choose 4 RU OR 2 GU. I will keep raising this issue any chance I get. Now that the 21 day rule is in place the only real benefit to “byemiles” is international travel. IMO it is a waste of “crymiles” to use them on anything but long distance travel……50,000 miles to fly to Boston vs 60,000 to fly to London…. hmmm tough choice on best value said no one.

  14. I really do love the Delta travel experience. I just haven’t had the opportunity to fly this year to keep the status. I know DL has gutted the FF program and in the great scheme of things it really is no worse than UA or AA in the future (my speculation is they will turn AA’s program into the same model). The thing Delta has done that really is an irritant is lost the complete sense of transparency. Make the changes but be forthright about them and people would be far more tolerable towards them. To make the changes behind a cloaked wall like the Wizard of OZ just isn’t customer friendly.

  15. laptoptravel Reply

    I have spoken with the Diamond Medallion desk and as of today with the new policy on RUC’s for these TransCon flights the “secret list” for complimentary upgrades of Diamond Medallions who ask has ENDED!

    We looked at my specific flights upcoming and they flat told me no I will NOT get upgraded without burning the RUC’s (or Global ones, if I so choose.)

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  17. @laptoptravel….thanks for sharing what you learned from DL. It is exactly what I expected given the announcement. I was happy they brought it back but I knew nothing good could last forever. So now do I use my Platinum Choice reward for RUCs??? I will have to look at my travel plans.


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