Delta now gives “Even More Ways For SkyMiles Members To [FLUSH] Use Their [Sky]Miles” down the drain – Should you do it?

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Delta agents got training on this back in March of this year but this latest change to allow more ways to flush your SkyMiles down the toilet just rolled out officially on the 20th. I am continually stunned at the number of ways Delta now wants you to dispose of your valuable Delta points.

Now sure we know, according to the Delta CFO, that they “truly are indifferent whether someone spends a dollar or a mile” and that is telling us we are getting very little point value – that is, when we are getting anything around 1 cent each (or less) for our SkyMiles. Are we with these latest offers? Let’s look and get a feel for what they are pushing you and I to do.

Delta says we can now burn our SkyMiles for things like:

Upgrading to Delta Comfort+®, First Class or Delta One®
Selecting Preferred Seats
Ticket change fees
Award Ticket redeposit fees
Same-Day Confirmed fees
External ticket charge

Ouch on so many levels. Now let’s get down to the really nitty gritty on these. The first one, upgrades, should be free for medallions. I hate, I mean HATE, when folks pay to upgrade. Sure, if Delta offers them for $9.95 to upgrade to 1st class you and I would be stupid to NOT pay to upgrade, but the devastating impact on the loyalty program to shamefully offer upgrades for ridiculous prices is beyond reproach (or offering C+ upgrades for just $5)! But how much does it cost to do this?

Did you notice something from the Delta News Update screen shot at the top of this post? Oh yeah, the slimy SkyMiles team at Delta did not publish the prices for these ways to flush your SkyMiles. Isn’t that strange (no, not really)? I mean, it is kinda like everything about SkyMiles, the less you know the simpler it is for us to make you burn them in a foolish manner (just like hiding the SkyMiles award charts that they DO use).

Less that 1 cent per SkyMile is low value!

So I got to the bottom of many of the hidden prices! Take the upgrade to C+ or 1st class for example. Much like PWM or Pay With Miles (for those who have a Delta AMEX card) you can upgrade for up to 1 cent each. I say up to because it is based on $50 / 5000 mile breaks in pricing. Thus, you are MAX getting 1 cent value but you could get less than that as well.

Now as for the rest, I just can not stop shaking my head because we really should not have to pay for any of these to begin with as they are all “junk” fees. If you are not an elite (even a Silver Medallion) a ton of the seats on any given jet are blocked as “Preferred Seats”. I really don’t get paying for the exact same seat a few rows up from where I am now. Sure an exit row can be great but beyond that simply an aisle seat toward the front of the jet is nothing special to me. Maybe I just don’t get it.

20,000 SkyMiles = $200

Next up I can confirm as one simple example that with a “Ticket Change Fee” you are burning SkyMiles at the 1 cent per point rate. Here is the deal – there can be 100 other ways or reasons to get a change fee waived. Look at the “Mighty Schedule Change Rule” (see E8) for just one example. There are a bunch more if you push it and HUCB if you need to. In the end, if you do this at 1 cent each, you truly do not value your SkyMiles very much, sad to say.

Next we have Award Ticket redeposit fees. This is one further reason to keep / maintain your Platinum or Diamond Medallion status so you get these free (up to 72 hours before flight). If you have hundreds of thousands of SkyMiles you better be PM+. If under 100k then just be VERY careful how you book your awards and never EVER pay the mega fees Delta charges to put your miles back. If not, see the paragraph above for ways to avoid these junk fees.

Then we have SDC that is Same-Day Change / Confirmed fees. Again, in this case Gold Medallion plus are avoiding these junk fees. If I were a non-elite I would not, via cash or points, give Delta more money to get back home a few hours sooner. Either way my point is that SkyMiles should be worth more than 1 cent each.

Lastly we have External ticket charge. Really? Who pays these ridiculous junk fees (I had to look up just what these things are). Just no people – NO! And really no with SkyMiles.

Bottom line is if you do the above you are, again, getting MAX 1 cent value for your SkyMiles and many times less than 1 cent each. I personally value my SkyMiles at 1.5-2 cents each and unless I am getting that kind of return I am not burning them. The only exception is if I am in need of MQMs (that I value more than SkyMiles) and use them for PWM tickets that do earn full MQMs for the flights.

One last funny thing. This is new to Delta as of the 20th. One of the reps I spoke to told me that most times doing the above takes a while and they will have to call you back once they have completed the request. So not only is this a VERY low value for your SkyMiles but it also takes a long time for Delta reps to process? Mind boggling! – René



  1. Having almost hit the million miler mark, and now only having about 40K in Delta points I could care less about the million miler mark or flying anymore on Delta.

    I have a trip to Chicago in a few months and live in Delta’s prime area in Georgia, but on google flights they are the 5th most expensive of all the flights available to me.

    I have nothing for Delta. They made their bed and now they have to sleep in it.

  2. Sad to say I paid external ticket fee once to change the travel date for a ticket I purchased via Expedia. I called Delta and I managed to have the change fee waived but paid $50 for external ticket handling. I am a diamond and purchased a first class ticket if that makes any difference. Needless to say, I try to avoid using OTA to book flights now.

  3. I can’t fault Delta for allowing folks to redeem their miles as they wish and actually applaud the fact that we know how much they *want* them be worth. PWM is a good tool if you need to earn MQMs (granted Chase UR is a much better value). We all already know miles are totally worthless. The fact of charging certain fees to Medallions is a different discussion entirely.

  4. @opposite – Those who feel “miles are totally worthless” does not know how to claw out value from SkyMiles! 😉

  5. @rene That’s fair, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t much better ways to earn and use points. The Delta Amex is great if you want to keep status, but ultimately not the most efficient use of our dollars (needless to say I’ve had mine for 8 years ;)).

  6. Between “Flash Sales”, PWM, and diligent searches for L1/L2 awards, I don’t agree that miles are “totally” worthless, but they are certainly worth considerably less with each passing year. I will say though, you definitely have to be flexible. If you’ve got a particular destination in mind, and want to fly up front in Delta One, odds are they’re going to charge you big time.

  7. @opposite – Oh 100% agree with you there. Spot on. There are MUCH more valuable ways to earn points. But once you do have them you should spend them wisely.

  8. Just logged into my Delta Amex account, and now Amex will give you an advance of skymiles. Have 6 months to “spend” them back. Or it will cost you $.025 a mile. How generous of American Express.
    On another note regarding skymiles. With the advent of the A350 going into service. Where I was once able to find 80k miles(one way) for Delta one to Asia with ease, has now jumped to 160k! So much for Delta not charging a premium.

  9. What’s worthless is wasting miles on FLYING Delta. Would rather burn 21,500 points for a 100 Amex gift card any day. Delta can keep their (non) Comfort minus seats. Only had to fly Delta once this year and it feels GREAT (after 250,000 MQMs last year). Go Alaska Air!!!

  10. @Richard – Well, not sure if THAT is a wise way to flush SkyMiles but I agree Alaska is a fine product and a great FF program.

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