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Delta is back with their weekly SkyMiles flash sale. This time it’s domestic economy fares. Travel windows are limited by route, though they sometimes extend beyond those listed on the deals page; if travel starts within or near the listed window these prices are generally available.
This time, however, the sale seems…boring? Honestly I was going to write about “good and bad deals” but in my searches this time I couldn’t find a good deal worth writing about. Delta seems to have created a limited range within which they will allow you to redeem your SkyMiles for this sale, and I’d argue it’s not compelling.
Delta’s Limited Range For SkyMiles Value
The SkyMiles prices are dynamically priced to coincide with cash prices, taking much of the value out of the redemption. Take Cincinnati to Orlando, for example. It’s listed as 13K round trip, which seems great. I mean, look at all the 13-14K dates.
But note that the days when it’s 20K+: leaving on Friday, returning on Friday or Sunday. Those are the most expensive days for cash prices too.
Friday to Sunday, that’s 28,000 miles + $11 versus $287. That makes your SkyMiles worth about a penny each.
If a flight costs $280, and replacing it with miles takes 28,000, is it worth using the miles? If you used a credit card to earn those miles wouldn’t just having a 2% cash back card be twice as valuable as one earning a single SkyMile per $1?
What about when the miles cost is only 13,000? How does that compare to cash? Here’s where you do see some decent value.
Then again, 13,000 miles +$11 to replace $217 = 1.6 cpm. That’s a perfectly fine redemption, but not spectacular.
(Why would I downplay 1.6 cpm from Delta, while stating that 1.5 cpm for Ultimate Rewards in the Chase portal is a pretty good deal for premium economy to Singapore? Partially because you’re earning a lot of miles on the PE flights, partially because you’re getting a better experience in PE than main cabin economy for 17 hours, and partially because it’s easy to earn 3x UR with the Sapphire Reserve, not so much with Delta cards.)
Similar patterns are notable in the Boston to Orlando/FLL deals (1.3 – 1.8 cpm), Los Angeles to Washington (1.4 – 1.8 cpm), Atlanta to Denver (1.4 – 1.8 cpm)…notice a pattern? The touted sale prices all run about the same value, while surrounding dates are slightly worse. That 1.3 – 1.8 range is about what Southwest miles are generally worth. Again: not bad, but nothing worth breathlessly telling you to spend your SkyMiles on. I didn’t check every one of the deals, but I get the gist.
I know I should say that the only true “bad” redemptions are the ones you don’t take, and any redemption that allows you to travel when you want or need to is good. But I just can’t bring myself to say that this time. These deals are very limited in time (a little over a week each), and only give you a value that’s pretty common with other miles. if you spend SkyMiles that you would rather spend later to save more money on a different trip, then yes, these are maybe bad deals (or at least not good ones).
But maybe that future with better value never comes. Is this the future of SkyMiles – even the sales only provide you about 1.5 cents each?