Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (2023)

AlthoughDeltadoes not publish a paytable and the amount ofSkyMilesThe need to book a Delta flight can vary widely, having partner redemptionsrelatively fixed prices. That being said, Delta may increase these rates at any time with no paytables. And unfortunately that is exactly what happened.

Delta has quietly increased the price of many partner rewards. Also, Delta now appears to charge more miles for flights booked between 21 and 59 days before departure, and even more miles for flights booked within 21 days. This change was first noticed by a user onspeak flyersand was further investigated by TPG.

There's a lot to discover, so let's do it.

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Higher prices at "affordable level".

Unfortunately, we are seeing higher award rates for partner awards on all flights to and from the US. Delta has not published an award plan in years, but has always offered members with economic award space at a fixed price. Unfortunately, this has increased across all SkyTeam alliance partners and non-allied partners.

Business class premiums were particularly affected by these changes. For example, Virgin Atlantic flights to and from the US now cost 95,000 miles instead of 86,000 miles. The price of economy tickets has also increased from 10,000 miles to 35,000 miles each way.

Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (1)

We found the same price for flights operated by SkyTeam partners like Air France and KLM. It also tells us that Virgin Atlantic award prices are now in line with SkyTeam partners' transatlantic award prices. Please note that Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Air France and KLM officiallyformed a joint ventureearlier this year.

Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (2)

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Flights to North Asia also experienced a sharp rise in prices. A Korean Airlines flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN) now costs 40,000 and 102,500 miles in Economy and Business Class, respectively. There are 5,000 more miles in Economy Class and 17,500 more miles in Business Class.

Here is an unofficial Delta Partner rewards table that we created that reflects these changes:

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Central America17,000 miles35,000 miles
South America25,000 milesN / D
Europa35,000 miles95,000 miles
middle East37,500 miles85,000 miles
North Africa35,000 miles95,000 miles
South Africa50,000 miles115,000 miles
Asia40,000 miles102,500 miles

Please note that due to extremely limited availability for certain regions (e.g. South Pacific and Business Class for South America) this is not a complete view but you may still see a downgrade.

Unofficial fee for the next few miles

To make matters worse, Delta is now collecting awards from members booked closer to departure. You'll pay extra miles for flights booked 21 to 59 days in advance and even more for flights booked 21 days in advance. In other words, you must now book exactly 60 days or more in advance to get the lowest member rewards price.

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The surcharge seems to be determined by the destination and is the same for all partners with a few exceptions. If you book shortly before you start your journey, you pay a surcharge of between 2,500 and 120,000 miles. Again, these aren't published markups, but we apply a few markups and find that prices are consistent throughout.

A Virgin Atlantic flight booked 21 days before departure now costs 55,000 miles in Economy Class and 195,000 in Business Class. That's more than double the cost of a cheap ticket booked in the paytable above. Flights booked up to 60 days before departure cost 40,000 miles in Economy Class and 170,000 in Business Class.

Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (4)

Interestingly, however, these changes are different for transatlantic flights operated by SkyTeam partners such as Air France. You pay 135,000 or 55,000 miles for a one-way economy or executive transatlantic ticket booked up to 21 days before departure. In addition, flights booked between 21 and 59 days before departure with these airlines cost 40,000 for tourists and 105,000 for companies.

North Asia is also seeing a significant increase in nearby reserves. Economy flights cost an additional 5,000 miles if booked between 21 and 59 days before departure and an additional 10,000 miles if booked within 21 days. Because awards are unavailable, we are unable to locate Business Class flights less than 60 days prior to departure. But we imagine that, like in Europe, booking fees are high nearby.

Here's a look at the paytable with closing prices added for all regions:

determinationMore than 60 days before departure (no closing fee)21-59 days from departureWithin 21 days of departure
Central America17,000 miles (Economy)

35,000 miles (business)

19,500 miles (Economy)

37,500 miles (business)

22,000 miles (Economy)

40,000 miles (business)

South America25,000 miles (Economy)30,000 miles (Economy)35,000 miles (Economy)
Europe (operated by Virgin Atlantic)35,000 miles (Economy)

70.000 Millas (Premium Economy)

95,000 miles (business)

40,000 miles (Economy)

75.000 Millas (Premium Economy)

170,000 miles (business)

40,000 miles (Economy)

105.000 Millas (Premium Economy)

195,000 miles (business)

Europe (operated by SkyTeam)35,000 miles (Economy)

95,000 miles (business)

40,000 miles (Economy)

105,000 miles (business)

55,000 miles (Economy)

135,000 miles (business)

middle East37,500 miles (Economy)

85,000 miles (business)

37,500 miles (Economy)

85,000 miles (business)

37,500 miles (Economy)

85,000 miles (business)

North Africa35,000 miles (Economy)

95,000 miles (business)

40,000 miles (Economy)55,000 miles (Economy)
South Africa50,000 miles (Economy)

115,000 miles (business)

50,000 miles (Economy)

115,000 miles (business)

50,000 miles (Economy)

115,000 miles (business)

Asia40,000 miles (Economy)

102,500 miles (business)

45,000 miles (Economy)50,000 miles (Economy)

Again, this isn't a complete view due to the lack of price availability, but the differences are noticeable.

Related:Everything you need to know about maximizing your Delta SkyMiles award tickets

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Not all prices have been increased in price

Not all affiliate rewards have increased in price, at least not yet.

First off, these changes appear to only apply to flights to and from the US. Interestingly, it appears that you.I couldbe able to move by paying a "closing fee" by flying through another region. For example, while partner business class flights to Europe booked less than three weeks in advance should cost 195,000 miles, you'll pay less than half that if you add a connection in Mexico with Delta partner Aeroméxico.

Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (5)

While this is not always the case, we also see savings when combining a Virgin Atlantic flight with an Alitalia flight.

Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (6)

Also, at least one region, the Middle East, appears to have no closing fees. In fact, bus fares for flights to cities like Tel Aviv (TLV) appear to have dropped.underin the price of 5,000 miles.

Also, there is no change on flights from North America to the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and South America that are booked at least 60 days in advance of departure. It is worth noting that this only applies to flights with airlines such as Aeroméxico. Delta flights are still subject to dynamic pricing, so you may be able to find better deals.

Delta Increases Member Rewards and Introduces Next Booking Reward: The Points Guy (7)

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Related:Delta offers specific status challenges up to Diamond Medallion

timing of these changes

The timing of these changes does not appear to be accidental.

Just last week,United increased member rewards prices(for himfor the second time this year) for future reservations. However, United has only increased prices for partner award tickets issued up to 21 days before departure and only up to 4,500 miles each way.

Moreover, this occurs at a time whentravel demandit's still extremely low and airlines are losing money. Delta will likely see this as an opportunity to save money, as the higher fares would mean fewer members are redeemed and less money being paid to members for those flights. The airline might also think that because fewer people are looking for flights now, they might not notice the spike when things return to normal.

Related:Delta will mortgage the SkyMiles program up to $6.5 billion to deal with the impact of the coronavirus

This could also be a ploy to take advantage of those who book last minute travelCountries hosting Americans during the pandemic.

Whatever the reason, it's unfortunate that Delta is introducing a massive membership downgrade while the world of travel is already suffering the consequences.Coronavirus Pandemie. In our view, this demonstrates Delta's focus on reducing SkyMiles liabilities on its balance sheet, rather than on customer satisfaction. That's understandable, but it comes at a time when travelers may already be reconsidering their post-pandemic loyalty options.

If you're in this boat, think about itEarn transferrable pointsfrom now on. These points can be earned with a credit card and transferred to some partner airlines and hotels. For example,Rewards for American Express membershas more than 20 transfer partners, includingBritish Airways aircraft,Delta SkyMilesmiAvianca LifeMiles. This gives you flexibility when redeeming points and in turn protects you from devaluations.

Related:Corona devaluations will hurt airlines in the long term: Here's why


The data here tells us that Delta has increased the price of all partner awards for flights to and from the US, especially when the booking is close to the departure date. These discounts are huge in some cases, further reducing the usefulness of SkyMiles for all but domestic US travel.

Fortunately, there are still a few ways to bypass these changes. When you book flights from the US to Europe via Mexico with SkyTeam partners, you receive legacy partner fares. Airlines such as Air France, Aeroméxico and KLM operate these routes. You can also get lower fares by booking last-minute flights with SkyTeam partners rather than independent partners like Virgin Atlantic.

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