Updated January 9th, 2020
Delta Skymiles aren’t colloquially referred to as Skypesos for no reason. Despite being the best US legacy carrier, their loyalty program consistently offers the lowest value on a per-mile basis. Unfortunately, good availability gives way to high mileage requirements. This month, Delta Skymiles are worth 0.75¢ each. This represents a 20% decline in value since last year.
|Current||Previous Period||$ Change||% Change|
|Intra-US Non-Zero Average||0.87¢||1.13¢||-0.26¢||-23%|
|International Non-Zero Average||1.25¢||1.37¢||-0.12¢||-9%|
Sadly, Delta presented us with many award redemption options that we consider insane. 465,000 miles from Los Angeles to Sydney. Even up front, this is worse than just about any other carrier would offer. Well, except maybe Alitalia…
Like most award programs worldwide, one is served best by redeeming for international travel. Average redemptions for flights that cross an ocean are 30% better than those that stay within the United States. Unlike competing carriers, there appears to be better redemptions in economy than in premium cabins.
What the bell curve/redemption count above, and best/worst chart below, all make very clear is that one has an extremely high chance of redeeming for an acceptable value. Conversely, one has a very low chance of scoring a high-value award. Our best for the month comes in at a redemption value of just 4.29¢ per mile. This was for a economy award seat between Atlanta and London offered for 20,000 miles plus $5.60 in fees. The lowest cost cash alternative was $864.
Ultimately, Delta provides a reliable, but low-value proposition with their Skymiles program. For value-minded award travelers, we’d recommend targeting miles on American or United. For comfort-minded ones, Delta might provide a good option.