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Delta hasn’t been doing good things with their Skymiles awards lately. First they totally overhauled the program, moving to a revenue-based system for mile earning. Then they removed their award charts, and most recently moved even more towards a “make up whatever price we want” model for award redemptions.
One thing in the recent announcement that did intrigue me however was 7,500 or 10,000 Skymiles (rather than the standard 12,500 Skymiles for a domestic one-way trip). Included in the full announcement was a link to a promotional page announcing specific city-pairs for 7,500 or 10,000 Skymiles.
Recently Delta announced “The Great 48 Escape“, giving a few examples of some flights that are only 5,000 Skymiles. Here are some examples:
You can see that on some of the flights there are 2 levels of cash price – one with limited benefits (and no ability to pick seats) and one at a higher price with full benefits. It’s not clear to me which one of those using miles would give you. After all, you don’t want to be like the guy who had to sit 13 rows behind his toddler.
Why these cheap flights might not matter
The real benefit of frequent flyer miles in my opinion is the ability to get “outsized” return on your investment. On these flights, because they’re also on sale for cash, the value isn’t there. Here you’re getting anywhere from 1.19 to 1.78 cents per point, which is okay, but certainly not anything exciting.
Compare that to the short-haul flights of British Airways Avios, which charge 4500 Avios for ANY flight of fewer than 650 flown miles. Delta certainly isn’t going to that model – I was looking to book a ticket from Cincinnati to Minneapolis next month
At 596 flown miles, it would cost me 4500 Avios (if this were a oneworld flight, which it is not).
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Compare that to the cash price for this flight
I would be getting over 15 CENTS PER POINT by booking that flight for only 4500 Avios. Even the 12,500 Skymiles that it costs gives 5.4 cents of value, which is why I booked it with points instead of cash. Maybe the folks who did the study on the “Cheapest airport fares in the US” should have looked at this one before crowning Cincinnati #1 😀
THAT is where you get the value with miles and points.
This “fare sale” is more reminiscent of Southwest’s fare sales, which are nice, but not really any kind of super huge news event. Yes it’s nice to get slightly lower Avios amounts, but you know you’re going to be able to get about the same amount of value for your points, and you don’t even get the benefit of the Southwest Companion Pass!