Ever since Delta airlines pulled their award chart a few years ago, many have thought that the program has been extremely devalued. Without the award chart, the airline was able to price awards however they chose, often based on the revenue price of that ticket. These dynamic pricing awards took out sweet spots where you could have used fewer points for pricey flights; now pricey flights cost more points.
While it is not wrong that the program has been devalued, I find that there is great value in their miles, as long as you are patient and know when to use them. Many value Delta SkyMiles at 1.1 cpp but I personally try to aim for 2 cpp for redemption. This year I redeemed these miles for two round- trip tickets, each displaying the great value that is still possible.
For an early spring ski trip after getting vaccinated, we planned to visit friends (socially distancing) in Utah to ski at Park City. Our Epic Passes were still valid and we already had the skis. Since there were no rental or lift ticket costs, I knew our main expense would be flights. My first choice to fly to Park City would have been the direct flight from Washington Reagan to Salt Lake City in the evening after school. However, I wanted to fly home in the afternoon so rather than picking the direct flight in the morning, I chose to connect through Minneapolis (a Delta hub) then on to Reagan. This allowed at least an additional half day of skiing before I had to hang the skis for the season.
While this flight came to $596, a sky-high price for the once a day direct from Reagan, I was able to find the award for only 14,000 SkyMiles and $11.20 round trip. This meant that I was yielding about 4.2 cpp on these flights, significantly above my goal of a valuation and nearly four times as valuable as other evaluations. In this scenario, they were SkyMiles not SkyPesos.
Later that year, as the world began to open up and there were signs that our vaccines were working to prevent the spread of Covid, we decided to go on the previously canceled trip to Aruba. The prior year I had bought three roundtrip tickets on the direct flight from Baltimore to Aruba on Southwest for about $550 each (not outrageous everything considered). Once I factored in that I could add a free companion (only the taxes and fees) with our Southwest Companion Pass, I found it to be a great value. Although that was my original plan, this time around I found that the Southwest tickets were nearly $800 per person and other airlines were no better.
Delta’s flights, connecting through Atlanta from Washington Reagan, came to $869, a price I was not willing to pay. Next, I researched the price using miles. Since Southwest uses dynamic pricing for award tickets, their flights using miles wasn’t a better deal than paying cash. American and United weren’t any better. Finally, I stumbled across a round trip Delta award for only 20,000 SkyMiles roundtrip plus $91 in taxes and fees. I booked the award in basic economy knowing I could cancel at any point due to Delta’s generous change policy that had yet to expire during Covid. Although the original flight times required an early morning flight at 6am, later flight changes meant we were on a 7am flight to Atlanta before making our way to paradise.
On this redemption, these tickets gave us a value of 3.9 cpp from our Delta SkyMiles. Flying a family of four to Aruba for under $400 is impressive, but the fact that Delta allowed us to do it with only 80,000 SkyMiles, transferred instantly from American Express Membership Rewards, is even more impressive.
Although most of the time it is difficult to find a Delta award redemption of such value, with patience and searching it’s still possible to redeem your miles for great value. If you are in need of Delta SkyMiles, remember that you can transfer from American Express and that sign-up bonuses with American Express can often yield more than 100,000 MR points, more than enough for a family to fly round trip. To learn more, click the link for a credit card consultation in the top, right-hand corner of this page.
Never underestimate any award program, because often there is much value to be had. SkyMiles will remain SkyMiles for now.
Leave a Reply