As promised, yesterday Delta rolled out their one-way awards. These have been a feature of the Skymiles program that was sought after for a long time. I cannot tell you how many times I longed for a one way award (that was not the same cost as a roundtrip). It was especially important in cases where one of the directions of a roundtrip was at a higher award level. No one likes paying a higher rate, so using a one way with Delta and one way with a different airline would have been helpful.
Delta One Way Awards Are Here!
Well, that is here and bookable now! All you need to do is to go to Delta’s website and search for your preferred route while selecting one way travel. Delta’s domestic tickets are now bookable for only 12,500 miles one way!
The one way awards work for all Delta flights and partner flights.
The bad part is that Delta did not eliminate the fuel surcharges for flights originating in Europe. This is the primary reason I never use my Skymiles for European travel. My travels always start from Europe and I will not pay the insane prices for an award ticket that Delta tacks on when I can do it for under $100 using United miles.
Award Availability Is A Mixed Bag
Also as promised, Delta has pushed out the new 5 tier award chart. This is up from their older 3 tier chart and they had promised that the new chart would give more “lower” availability. The question was – would that be more tier 1 availability or a shrinking tier 1 and a lot of tier 2?
Through a bunch of popular searches and seasons, I have found that availability at the tier 1 level is better than I would have hoped for. However, many of the routes were only showing 1 or 2 seats at the lower level before it kicked up to the next tier. Some of the trips had one tier going out and a higher tier on the return.
You will need to try some dates and destinations for yourself to see what availability looks like on your preferred routes, but we could see a lot more availability at lower rates – just not as low as would prefer if most awards are at the Level 2 amount – 35,000 miles roundtrip for domestic awards, for example.
Even though Delta is now showing one way awards, Alaska Airlines is not able to book these awards at half price yet. I would imagine that they would be allowed to book at the half price for one ways on Delta flights at some point (unless Delta continues to restrict them to the roundtrip price).
What Was Lost?
Of course, in exchange for the one way awards, Skymiles members lost a couple of big things – round the world awards and stopovers on awards. Instead of having those two valuable components of award bookings, we must use the new one way awards to piece them together segment by segment.
While there were people that took advantage of round the world award pricing (which offered the best value amongst the carriers for such an award at only 280,000 miles for round the world in business), the real loss will be the stopovers. That was a great way to get another city into a trip that was booked and be able to enjoy more travel for the same price. Unfortunately, that is no more as of yesterday.
Miles+Cash Is Here
I am now seeing the Miles+Cash option on all flights that there is availability for. Not sure why it wasn’t showing it for me before (though I was logged in) but it is there now. It is only available for roundtrip tickets when searching for award tickets. The coach portion starts at 15,000 and introduces a cash element that is around the 1.8 cents per mile – $190+15,000 miles (which is what you are effectively “purchasing” the extra 10,000 miles for).
It is available for economy redemptions and for business/first. For a business redemption, it starts at 35,000 miles and $290 for a ticket.While not a great redemption value for your miles, it will certainly be helpful if you only have a few miles that you are trying to use up. Instead of only redeeming for a one way, you can redeem 2,500 miles more and some cash for your ticket.
Since they book into N and R class, the miles+cash option will not earn any elite miles (unlike the Pay-with-Miles feature).
The Bad News Of The Earning
Of course, now the new method of earning miles has kicked in. For travelers who pay high costs for their tickets, this new system of awarding miles will be very lucrative for them. But, for everyone else who flies, this new system is a terrible way to earn miles. Delta has made it much easier to decide how to earn miles with them going forward – credit card bonuses and spending will be a much better way than simply flying!
The takeaway is this – Delta is making it cost their flyers a lot more to earn miles from their travels. However, they are trying to reward those travelers by giving them another option with their miles. For the majority of us, we will be taking advantage of these new one way options but the miles we use for that will come from credit card spending.
Have you found good availability with the new tiers? What one way awards are you excited to book?