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.
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.
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.
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