You didn’t actually want to use any of those Delta SkyMiles, did you? Or did you want to use every last one — all at once? Delta certainly seems to think so, as it appears to have launched a no-notice devaluation affecting one-way flights on all of its SkyTeam partners. Either that, or it’s a glitch. This was first noticed by Thrifty Traveler late yesterday, and pricing is certainly wonky. Let’s take a look.
Delta Partner Awards
Delta has long been known for its exorbitant pricing on Delta-operated flights thanks to a dynamic pricing system and a series of increases. However, partner awards had thus far remained the same — often offering better pricing than Delta flights.
That’s no longer the case. In what appears to be a no-notice change to the cost of partner award flights, redemption values have skyrocketed. Rather than following some kind of partner award pricing, it looks like Delta has now chosen to match whatever rates it’s charging for its own flights … but only for one-way routings.
Here’s a look at a one-way flight on Virgin Atlantic between New York (JFK) and London (LHR):
That’s significantly more than what we’re used to seeing, but take a look at how the pricing shakes out on a round-trip:
It’s now cheaper to book a round-trip than a one-way? Either this is a glitch or a very odd way to force people to book return itineraries.
Interestingly, it looks like this devaluation has only hit routes where Delta operates its own flights. Here’s a look at a routing from San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG), where you’ll route through Incheon (ICN) via Korean Air:
Delta doesn’t operate any of these flights, so it’ll still cost you just 50,000 SkyMiles to get all the way to Hong Kong. However, changing the routing to Incheon (ICN) itself will still show you that same Korean Air flight — now priced to match what Delta is charging for its own metal:
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Whatever’s going on, it doesn’t look great for Delta’s partner awards. Is this an accidental early iteration of a devaluation? Is Delta planning on matching SkyTeam awards to Delta pricing? In any case, it looks like round-trip flights are not yet affected, so if you need to book now, make sure you’re sticking with a return.
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