Delta’s change in award fare coding has little impact on LEVEL 1-5 awards.

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the old delta fare codes for higher level awards

This WAS the old Delta award codes

What you see above is the OLD, now no longer in use, multi step coding for Delta SkyMiles awards that we have had in place for a little over a year now. Those are now gone. Notice the following as an example.

no matter how many skymiles only one fare class

Level 1 to Level 5 awards

If we do a one-way award search from Los Angeles to Stuttgart Germany for January of 2017 we find some dates with LEVEL 1 awards, that is 30,000 SkyMiles for a coach award at the lowest “standard” award level (at the current time, see old award charts HERE). We also see a number of dates with much higher awards for that same trip.

fare class letter for awards now one letter

N for Delta, X for Air France awards

Notice when we look at the 11th, and choose Delta flights, then we do see “N” class awards at 30,000 points, or a LEVEL 1 award. We also see, when looking at Delta partner Air France flights, “X” class awards also for 30,000 points. It is important to remember with Delta partners all awards will ONLY be found if LEVEL 1 awards exist.

even at 65k rt you are now N class award

AVOID paying LEVEL 5 award prices

But if we choose the 6th of January we see the code for the award is still “N” class but the price for the ticket has more than doubled to a LEVEL 5 award. This also tells us there is NO partner award space for this date.

What impact does this have on you or me? None really as you can still find awards at LEVEL 1-5 as before, it is just the code for the awards is just much less clear. It is, after all, the points that matter (see E7 posts here) not the code Delta uses to designate what that award is. Now just to be clear, Delta still has issues that can result in you paying HIGHER than LEVEL 5 prices as well as additive pricing, that is, being charged 2x or more for a ticket with connections to partners from Delta or even just as many segments with the same partner. We just, as always, must be very careful not to trust the Delta.dumb booking page to look out for us or to save us points. Lastly there can be times we find less that LEVEL 1 award when Delta has a “sale” on award travel.

Now for some speculation. We know Delta is, again as always, dumping award chart changes on us again and again without notice. You may say, but they don’t have award charts so how can you even claim this? Well, because they have award charts and use them (see partner awards for example) they just don’t publish them anymore. So YES, they do have them, YES, they do use them and YES, they do make changes and not tell us (most times).

Moving forward I see this change as just one more step toward full implementation one day of revenue based awards, that is, a SkyMile will ultimately and finally just be worth 1 cent each for awards. At that point, clearly, award charts will be gone. Personally I think the only reason this has not happened yet is due to partners and the IT challenge of implementing such a change. But that is just a matter of time I fear.

Earn and burn folks – things in “Delta Land” are going to get MUCH worse before they maybe one day become better when it comes to SkyMiles! Need help? Please reach out to ADAM rather than over spending your SkyMiles! – René





  1. Rene, It use to be so easy to engineer a low award. Search for low segments and then stich them together. With dynamic pricing this will all go away and the end result will be devalued SkyMiles. My problem trying to juggle AA vs. Delta redemptions because of the dual devaluations taking place (good problem I guess). I just wish I could fit in a Virgin Australia trip before November.

  2. @Jimmy – You can still do segment by segment and make it work (I have). It just takes even more work than before.

  3. Rene, I believe that the multi-step coding is still in effect on the rep side, based upon a recent experience with SDC for an award ticket. I tried to SDC a one-way award ticket where my confirmation had (N) as the fare class and there was award space available in (N) class on the flight to which I wanted to move. The rep told me that I couldn’t switch flights because my ticket was NL and the only available space was in NK. When I protested that the fare class was exactly the same according to my itinerary and the website (i.e., they both said “(N)”), she told me that it didn’t matter because the amount of miles required for the award seat were different. While I, of course, knew that was going to be the answer ahead of time, it is typical Delta to say that “(N)” and “(N)” are different fare classes.

  4. Just yesterday I used miles to get two First Class tickets for the wife and I to go from Hartford to Houston-Hobby for my brother’s wedding. I picked flights based on miles shown and ended up with Class R one way and Class RL on the return, with the total matching up to the Award Chart that you posted (57,500 each, or the average of 50K + 65K). My wife is excited to fly ‘First Class’ but I have been upgraded enough even as a Silver medallion to know that it isn’t that great, although the FA attention will be nice for sure.

  5. @Lee – That would not shock me. Hide more info from users and confuse more as reps talk code we can not see. #KeepDescending continues!

  6. I just wish an award was .01 per mile. I just tried pricing Atl-den. Lowest award ticket I could find the whole month of July is 65000 and the ticket cost $450. Delta, delta, delta.

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