Fighting Delta’s devaluation

Oh boy.  Yesterday, Delta added another straw to break the backs of their loyal elites.  DeltaPoints has the story here.  The basics are this: Many/most low-level international business class awards will be priced 7% to 25% higher for trips beginning on or after June 1 2014.  For example, low-level business class awards from the continental United States to Europe will increase from 100,000 miles round-trip to 125,000 miles.  Yikes.

Tricking it

What if you were hoping to use your miles next summer, but you don’t want to pay those inflated prices?  There may be an option to lessen the sting.  Thankfully, trips that begin before June 1 are booked under the previous prices.  So, the trick is to make Delta think you are beginning your trip early.  Here’s an example of how to do it…

Find the desired trip

Finding low level business class awards on Delta, for summer travel, is not the easiest game in the world, but it is possible.

I started by searching for low-level one-ways to Europe, and found a nice flight to Amsterdam departing Detroit June 29th.  You can see that the new 125K prices are in effect:

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I then found a return flight:

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I then plugged in these same dates and times as a round-trip search, and the entire itinerary priced out at 125K miles:

image

Add a pre-trip

The trick to reducing the 125K price is to add a travel segment to the award.  As long as the segment you add takes place before June 1, 2014, Delta will price the outbound part of the award according to the pre-devaluation award chart.  So, instead of paying 125,000 miles round-trip, you would pay 112,500 miles (50,000 miles for the outbound leg, and 62,500 miles for the return leg).

Free one-way

If you live near a Delta hub, then you may be able to add a free one-way domestic award to your itinerary.

In my case, I searched for low level first-class award flights from San Francisco to Detroit.  I needed to find a date prior to June 1, 2014 with a low level award.  I found this one:

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I then ran a multi-city search and plugged in all of the above flights.  That is, I plugged in San Francisco to Detroit, Jan 5 2014; then Detroit to Amsterdam, June 29th, 2014; then Amsterdam to Detroit, July 5th, 2014.  I was careful to pick the exact flights that I found before.

As I expected, the itinerary priced at 112,500 miles:

image

Delta.com sees this trip as a single round trip flight to Europe originating in San Francisco, with a stop-over in Detroit, and then an open jaw at the end of the trip between Detroit and San Francisco.  It prices at 112,500 because the outbound leg starts prior to June 1, 2014 and the return leg starts after that date.

To take advantage of the routing shown above, I would need to make my way to San Francisco separately before flying back to Detroit.  It’s a great way to get half of a free trip to California!

Note that this trick only works from Delta hubs that are valid stopovers between your starting point and your destination.  My example, shown above, worked because Detroit is a valid stopover between San Francisco and Amsterdam.

Conclusion

If you were hoping to use your Delta SkyMiles for an international business class trip next summer, you may be able to lessen the sting of the new award chart by adding in an extra trip mid-year.  This trick definitely won’t work for everyone, though.  And, it may not even be worth the hassle to save only 12,500 miles.  Still, if the circumstances are just right for you, you might as well get the most you can from your miles.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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29 Comments on "Fighting Delta’s devaluation"

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Gene
Guest

Shhh…I figured this out yesterday as well, but I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t price at 100,000.

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[…] method to avoid having to pay the entire updated amount for flights after June 1. Check that out here. Another way might be to shift your destination if you are flying in business after June 1st. You […]

Greg
Guest

What are the valid stop over Delta hub cities other than Detroit? Is this published somewhere?

Gene
Guest

@Greg — I also tested the simple roundtrip this morning, and it was pricing at 112,500, so I guess it prices each one-way separately. If only we could actually book a “real” one-way DL award…

john
Guest

Actually the extra segment doesnt need to be to/from a Delta hub. But the routing rules are key.

THEsocalledfan
Guest

As a small regional airport flyer, I want to add a little perspective for those in my boat. Don’t discount the power/utility of this just because you don’t live at a hub. For example, in Jan. I am flying (home airport FSD):

FSD-MSP-JFK-FCO-JFK-MSP stop over until April MSP-ATL-SAV.

I live close enough to MSP I’ll just drive back, or book a TY point flight. Now, with Greg’s trick, I’ll likely book:

SAV-ATL-MSP stopover until after June 1, then MSP-CDG-MSP-FSD on Air France. This routing, I think should be legal…. Note, I come directly home…..

so, you have to deal with how do I get two and from a hub a bit, but it does along you to get the FC/Biz one way…..

john
Guest

actually Atlanta has nothing to do with it since it is just a connecting point. the open Jaw is Savannah and Sioux Falls which is less than the trip to Europe so it should be okay if the routing from Savannah is allowed through Minneapolis

THEsocalledfan
Guest

John is correct. I just confirmed I can book exactly what I proposed for 112,500. (not sure why not 100k, but matches your example)

I felt like a genius (trust me, rare occurance) when I realized I can have this fun too even when flying to and from FSD all the time.

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[…] Delta’s Devaluation and Hacks to Get Around It […]

wise2u
Guest

so what currency is worse than pesos? should they now be Delta Drachmas?!?…fly to Greece with Delta Drachmas at our new devalued rates, if you can find availability…delta=blah

Jorge
Guest

No matter how much this is sugar coated, this program is the Hilton of the airline programs. Glad I said good-buy in 2004 ! No regret!

Jorge
Guest

oops “good BYE”, Delta is never a “good BUY”

THEsocalledfan
Guest

Greg,

Figured all this out last year when I found there was simply no good way to get FC to Hawaii at low redemption unless I stayed overnight in CA to fly Alaska which way not desirable…

So, I booked FSD-MSP-LAX-KOA-LAX-MSP stopover MSP-EWR for a weekend in NYC……

John
Guest

As much as Delta’s program is not ideal with all the devaluations (but trust me, AA and UA will increase their mileage levels for business class soon too), with the stopover/open jaw rule that Delta has, it really goes a long way to equalizing things. I get three round trips for every two award tickets. Sure it takes a lot of work, sure my dates often must be flexible, sure it helps to be PM or DM to make free changes (which I am not). But I had very specific dates for a domestic award ticket for a 2-night trip next year. I found low level non-stop flights on DL for my dates. Sure it took patience but it worked.

I am certainly not a “Delta cheerleader” but as I have said before, I have never found anyone who complains about their program and the worthlessness of SkyMiles who is willing to part with their SkyMiles for little or no cost. It is more an issue of complaining than actually taking action…for most people.

THEsocalledfan
Guest

@John,

Could not have said it better. The key is to pray Delta never goes full revenue redemption….

DBest
Guest

John I’ll do you one better and say that the key is diversity; every mileage program has, what I call, their weaknesses. These programs are designed for the mainstream consumer, and so we need to find the exploits instead. Delta will still be good for certain things like domestic stopovers, travel on partners, availability to Canada, J to South Asia etc. The key is to ONLY use them for those purposes and use a different program if you want to go somewhere else (e.g. Europe in J should be on Aeroplan for 90k, transferred from MR).

John
Guest

@DBest – I totally agree with you. I have miles with AA, AS, DL, UA, F9 (though I haven’t used the F9 miles and I need activity by next month to keep them active!).

Also, I have had experiences where I found low level flights on DL but not on UA and partners. It happens. As you said, diversity is key. Right now I am building up my UA miles through Chase Ink, Bluebird, etc.

Jasonj
Guest

@FM
Tricking it? How are you tricking the system when your trip actually begins before June 1? There’s no trick. It’s either you do or don’t before the deadline. Master English before writing a blog. *rolls eyes*

Frank
Guest

I don’t know if it’s just me or I’m not looking at correct place, but I always find delta costs more points/miles for their award seats compare to other airline…..

John
Guest

@FrequentMiler
Jason’s point is that there is no “trick” – you are starting your outbound trip prior to June 1st so you are entitled to the miles at that level. I understand his point. Two sides of the same coin, but true there is not really a ‘trick’ involved.

John
Guest

@FrequentMiler. I guess your definition of “trick” is different than most people. I see it as just a part of their rules. Nothing super special about it. Most revenue tickets that have a seasonal pricing (think international flights to Europe as an example) are based on the date of the first flight. So if you depart in low season then continue the rest of your journey in high season, you pay the low season price. Is that a “trick”? By your definition apparently yes. But for most people, no. It is just the way the airline pricing works.

Now if we can get the entire itinerary to price at the lower mileage level regardless of the return date, THAT would be a trick!!