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If you have been following the world of miles & points for a while, you probably know that Delta Skymiles do not get much love among frequent flyers or miles/points collectors. It even got the nickname SkyPeso because Delta kept increasing award prices and devaluing the program. In fact, Delta is the only airline that doesn’t publish an award chart. Just this Friday, OMAAT pointed out that Delta silently increased the miles required on partner awards. The news was also covered by the Points Guy. There is simply no love out there for Delta Skymiles.
While I don’t disagree that every devaluation stinks, I also happen to find great value in Delta Skymiles. Here at PWaC we are all about family travel. If family travel is also what you are interested in, then you should take a deep look at Delta Skymiles before you write it off. There really is a lot Delta Skymiles can do for your family.
The latest change applies mostly to business class on partner flights. Yes it sure is nice to fly business class to Europe or Asia or any other part of the world that Delta and its partners can take you. But in reality, for families with kids, whether it is three kids like my family or six kids like Dan’s family, most of time we will fly in coach. In the end we will all survive the flight and still have a great trip, perhaps at no cost at all. Award travel in coach using Delta Skymiles is where you get the most value for your family.
To me, Skymiles are simply awesome for travel within continental U.S. and Canada, because Delta releases more coach awards seats than American or United. Let’s say I want to take my family of five to Toronto from San Francisco in June. Delta has plenty dates available at the saver-level of 12,500 miles per person one-way.
Here’s what American Airline’s availability looks like. Not one saver award seat available in the entire month of June! In fact, this is the norm now with American. Its award availability is just crappy! I have a stash of American miles and I use them mostly for flights to Asia on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
United’s availability are better than American’s thanks to its partner Air Canada. Here are dates for five people using United miles. Choice of dates are not as wide open as Delta’s, but if you want to fly business class, you do have a few dates to choose from, which you most likely won’t find on Delta.
Dan recently took his family of eight from Cincinnati to California, for free using Delta Skymiles. Want to find 8 seats on United or AA? You can forget about it! But with Delta, you will have better luck. In fact, back in January I wrote about up to 9 Delta awards to Asia or to Hawaii this summer.
What if you want to take the family to Asia or Europe? The latest Skymiles change does affect coach awards on partners, but only minimal. For example, my sister-in-law just flew Korean Airline from Seoul to New York JFK using 35,000 Delta Skymiles. The same flight now cost 40,000 miles. But on the other hand, coach award on Delta’s own flights dropped by 5,000 miles. I can take my family of five from San Francisco to Barcelona in July for just 30,000 miles per person each way, and I have lots of dates to choose from!
Delta Skymiles are easy to collect. American Express has a total of 6 different Delta cards (3 personal and 3 business), each offering a good amount of miles as sign-up bonus. Delta is also a 1:1 transfer partner with Amex Membership Rewards, which are super easy to accumulate. Of course, it is better to accumulate Amex Membership Rewards directly instead of Delta Skymiles due to its flexibility. But it would be a big mistake of letting any Skymiles pass by.
I always maintain a good amount of Delta Skymiles, which I used only for domestic trips during the past few years. I spent a good chunk of Skymiles taking my daughter visiting colleges last summer. So far this year I already booked three trips to her college for the coming months. I am sure Skymiles will come in handy the next four years while she is away in college.
To sum it up, don’t write off Delta Skymiles. if you have a family, big or small, take a good look at Delta Skymiles. How about you? Are you finding value in Delta Skymiles for your family?