Travel Loyalty Programs

What Will it Take for Delta Points to Again Have Real Value? Will Delta SkyMiles Ever Change?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
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.


During one of my many visits to the Delta mothership in Atlanta, I was in the office where EOS (what Delta called the “Evolution of Skymiles“) was born. Many of us think of EOS as the “End of Skymiles” or “Evil of (the) Snake”! Yes, EOS slithered in with the lie that we would get more value out of our Skymiles. 

But will it ever end?

As I have posted a number of times recently Delta, who was petrified that “we” would perceive the value of a SkyMile at one cent per point, has now fully embraced this. By their press and corporate comments, they in fact want you to think about a SkyMile this way now.

This is simply NOT good news for us. Why?

Los Angeles, CA/USA: Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-302 (registration N826NW) shown departing from the Los Angeles International Airport, LAX. (©iStock.com/Angel Di Bilio)
Los Angeles, CA/USA: Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-302 (registration N826NW) shown departing from the Los Angeles International Airport, LAX. (©iStock.com/Angel Di Bilio)

If Delta thinks, and wants you to think, that a Delta point is worth a MAXIMUM of one cent – this means under most circumstances you will be getting LESS than one cent value (remember one cent is MAX value)! Oh boy…

Chris had a brilliant post that you should consider as he really breaks down the math and value of SkyMiles as things sit right now — and especially so if you are working on Delta elite status.

But will things ever change?

For years and years, after EOS, many in the frequent flyers community with real venom in their hearts bubbled forth sayings like “just wait till the next downturn – then Delta will beg to have us back” and the idea of that is then we will see value return.

But…

The US government has gifted again and again BILLLLLIIIOOOOONNNNS of dollars to Delta (they say it is for employees but if they had given all the money to employees they would all – YES ALL – be millionaires by now). On top of those insane numbers, Delta mortgaged SkyMiles for more BILLIONS and told those investing in Skymiles as an asset words that I find very far from the facts on the ground (they said things like the value of Skymiles will not dilute but BOY have we seen this is a flat out LIE with 2x partner award devaluations in a matter of months).

Gosh, René – so what will it take?

Something I doubt we will ever see. IMO the only thing that will bring back real value to SkyMiles is DAL or Delta corp going into bankruptcy yet again.

That, in the current environment, is highly unlikely. While I never would be stupid enough to invest my cash in any airline stock – I think shareholders are secure that money will continue to flow FOREVER to keep them out of bankruptcy even if COVID keeps earnings down for many more years to come.

So we are toast?

Yeah – pretty much – the truth hurts. The only way SkyMiles will ever be worth more than 1 cent each is for any one of a number of really harsh things to happen. What are they?

DAL bankruptcy! As touched on already this is unlikely to happen again. Let’s move on.

Delta Amex card mass cancellation! This too, I think, is highly unlikely. If during a once-in-a-century pandemic the mass population is still willing to spend on Delta Amex cards they can feel confident there is nothing that will stop the “average flyer” from spending on Delta cards. I have NOT been part of this as I was smart enough to downgrade and suspend all my Delta Amex spend during COVID!

Photo credit to saveskymiles.com

A social media revolt! Many years ago there was a simply remarkable  “Save SkyMiles” campaign that – unbelievably – worked. This was before social media but it rocked the Delta mothership into changing. Now, with social media the lifeblood of everything, all it would take is a MASSIVE event to overnight shame and shock Delta into taking a 180-degree turn to once again save SkyMiles. Do I think it will happen? No. But it should scare the daylights out of Delta as we are only one massive media event from this becoming reality.

The blogs wake folks up! We have tried. So hard. Years ago I can confirm the Delta CEO got a summary of what the blogs posted about Delta so that he could be both aware and be ready to comment if a post went “viral” and he had to respond. But during COVID, the blogs (and similar travel sites) have seen traffic crash by 25 to 75% (or more). The numbers have been staggering. So those yelling the warnings have been visited way less and thus few know what has been going on. Sad – as we bloggers have really tried all we can! Well, other than one of the biggest blogs that sold their soul to Delta to have its blog logo as a sticker on the side of Delta jets as you enter (I think you can guess who I am talking about)!

Competition. This one is the only one I think that I see as a glimmer of hope in succeeding (but it is a small one). Today the biggest direct competition to Delta is simply a cashback card earning at least 2% back. Remarkable and revolting. Will any of the US airlines step up enough in points value to make Delta HUB flyers to go – “….errr, why am I flying Delta when SkyMiles stinks so bad”? Maybe, but this is IMO the ONLY thing that we can all hope for.

Well, this is just depressing René – thanks…

Truly. Keep in mind I am just the messenger and at this point not the one who can really impact change or I would as someone who has nearly 1 million SkyRubles who is seeing their value drop day by day by day.

What do you think of my rant / analysis of where we find ourselves? Do you agree or see other things that could have a big impact on the value of SkyMiles? – René

 

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.

8 Comments

  1. Frankie Morgan Reply

    I used to be able to redeem SkyMiles for domestic car rentals and hotels. When might this opportunity come back?

  2. It begs the question then would it be more beneficial to have Delta flyers instead bank their miles and earn status on Flying Blue instead. Of course, there are drawbacks and Flying Blue could devalue their own program as well (I mean they are partially owned by Delta), but it seems to be a program where one can make better use of their miles anyways…

    • @Euro – In the past I would have never considered this but yes it may be worth looking at ALL Skyteam partners if earning spendable points are “your” goal. You have giving me something to blog about – thanks!

  3. Sure, no problem. I actually have something written up with my own perspectives and experiences. Let me know if you are interested in using parts of my essay/rant or to discuss this further.

  4. Unfortunately I think your analysis is right on. As a formerly fanatical Delta loyalist it really hurts to admit that the program I was so crazy about now just sucks. I cancelled my only remaining Delta credit card three devaluations ago, all the way back in October. Delta as an airline has managed to make enough sizeable operational mistakes with my wife and I that we’ll only fly Delta in the most dire need, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the intentional destruction of Skymiles. Delta simply has shown antagonism and disdain to me as a loyal and engaged customer. Now I’m returning the favor. Barring some wildly unlikely turn of events where Delta rolls back Skymiles to where they were a decade ago, I don’t see myself having anything more to do with Delta.

  5. Barry Graham Reply

    I would like to see a lower threshold for MQD waiver (compensated for by introducing MQD for foreign address customers), or simply abolishing MQD.

    I’d like the ability to check upgrade availability on any flight before I book it, including global upgrade.

    I’d like to be able to change flights on the same route any time up to departure without losing my upgrade, provided there is an empty upgraded seat on the new flight.

    I’m very happy with the value that Delta has given me over the years with it’s free loyalty program that it chose to create. My parents taught me never to complain about the gifts I was given.

  6. Right on Rene! I see the same thing of lessening value in SkyPesos, although I don’t see anything better in the US market so I feel kind of stuck with DL. A few years ago when I was really pissed at DL for how crappy their service had become I started flying AA for a couple months and after about 30 segments in that time (a number of them sitting up front too as I was on, and exceeded, the status challenge) saw that DL wasn’t so bad when compared to AA. I’m now about 7500 MQDs from 2MM on DL and see my SkyMiles withering…

Write A Comment

BoardingArea