This is the final time I ever use the word “SkyMiles” to describe Delta points ever again. Why? Because, as we all know, the real aspirational value of SkyPennies is dead. EOS (the Evolution of SkyMiles) or the “End of SkyMiles” is now here. I mean, take a look at the SkyPennies award prices for a 10-day round-trip vacation to Paris from Atlanta this summer:
We can, with one trip in Delta One, empty over 1 million SkyPennies for two of you to fly there and back.
Yet not shocking at all, right?
Years ago a Delta insider told me that the company was terrified that all of “us” would perceive that SkyPennies would be worth only 1 cent each in value – but clearly this fear is GONE and they have proven this by their SkyPennies pricing!
But I am not willing to simply flush my hard-earned SkyPennies to go down the drain. As I posted on FreqentFloaters, there are amazing redemption values if we are ready to jump on them.
That is real value – as value dies.
And that is the point of this post. “Back in the day,” collecting SkyPennies had a point and value for the trip you were dreaming about. You could not only fly in luxury but also stop over and turn your loyalty into lasting memories in Paris or Amsterdam or Rome or any number of other major SkyTeam hubs – no longer. We need to burn down our Delta points to zero — and look to 2% cash back cards that are twice (yes, 100% more valuable) than SkyPennies and other points cards that offer real value!
Now that, is not to say we can not play with SkyPennies offers from Amex. If they offer you 75, or 95 or 100,000 SkyPennies they are still worth $750 or $950 or $1000 dollars in value but we need to CEMENT in our brains that Delta points are, at least for now, worth:
SkyPennies = 1 CENT EACH!
The really scary part about this, and the reason I am begging all loyal readers to BURN DOWN your SkyPennies totals is because Delta is without shame and remorse when it comes to the loyalty program, and I fully expect and state that soon we will see SkyPennies drop even further in value to sub 1 cent each.
Now I know that most of the die-hard (even more than I was back in the day) Kool-aid Delta drinking loyalist will say that they fly Delta, not because of the frequent penny program, but for the product, the service and reliability.
All of the above is in question in 2023. The Delta hard product is good, I agree. Service is failing and even questionable and reliability is nothing like what it once was (trust me, I know in real life experience).
So, I am spending my remaining SkyPennies down to near zero. I will be posting soon about the most insane, and ridiculous, reward I have booked to get me near zero (well at least under 100k which for me is like zero after having for years hundreds of thousands of points)!
So what – you are done collecting SkyPennies the next two years?
I have just come to a realizing shift. I will collect SkyPennies when I can get a large enough new card bonus but that is it and burn them as fast as I can. There are way too many other points programs that offer, with little or no effort, way more value than SkyPennies on a daily basis. – René
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Ignoring devaluation, etc., spending a million miles for a business-class ticket to Europe on Delta is foolish.
Just think how much money you had to spend to accumulate a million miles. If you’re flying that much you can probably afford a paid business-class ticket.
Between overcrowded lounges, a noticeable reduction in the quality of in-flight food and booze (I just flew AMS-DTW yesterday and was appalled to see $7 wine), and reduced amenities (the Delta One kits don’t even include mouthwash or socks), Delta is one of the WORST business-class products. I would much rather pay to fly Virgin Atlantic, SAS, United, Turkish, or even Air France.
Prince or miles being equal, Delta and KLM are now on my list of airlines to avoid on international flights.
At this point, even flying Icelendair with a stop in Iceland results in a better in-flight product for the money paid. Paying $7,000 for what Delta is offering (to say nothing of 1 million miles) is appalling.
I still find value on some DL Domestic tickets but unfortunately with SkyMiles pricing it’s impossible to use for International. I even see AF/KL with some 300K point one way redemptions to Europe. But still if you book enough in advance you can still get RT Business on AF/KL for 110-130K FlyingBlue points (doing Italy in 2 weeks). Booked for April next year using LifeMiles to fly on LOT to Poland in Biz and return from Hungary for 126K RT per person for my wife and I for our bucket list Viking River cruise on the Danube. We just have to be creative and yes I’m putting my spend mostly on MR earning cards and Cap1 VX along with various Signup bonuses.
@ MIchael R Karpiel – I agree with you. My strategy has been to use Delta SkyPennies for domestic flights, oftentimes positioning flights. Then use AA, UA, or Flying Blue points mostly on European airlines for the business class trans-Atlantic flights. FlyingBlue in particular keeps me in the SkyTeam family where my DL Diamond status carries some weight and perks, and there are often 25% bonuses to transfer points in from all of the major CC points programs. I even signed up for the FlyingBlue cc to keep my account active and prevent points from expiring so I can transfer opportunistically without a specific use in mind.
My only hope is that all those credit card noobs that signed up for Amex Delta bonuses stay with Delta and redeem them at the crazy inflated levels while people who understand how things work continue to book using other programs/points, leaving the horde to feast on inflated redemptions and avoiding spreading more carnage to other programs.
At least until the other airlines decide to blindly follow Delta’s crazy inflation model.
You neglected to mention the 15% Amex discount on SM tickets. I am still getting significant value (close to 2 cents per mile) for domestic flights booked far in advance (while often switching to more expensive flights for free after schedule changes). For international travel I just pay cash or use pay with miles for flights with immediate GUC upgrade space available. You are still playing yesterday’s SM game if you are looking to use SM for international flights.
@Frankie – Oh stand by for a bit till I post about my next crazy Skypennies booking. It should be a fun post.
Plus, without jumping though hoops, I get 2% from my 2% cash back card every time! 😉
For the record, there are two itinerary types on which a person might reasonably expect to obtain decent value from Delta SkyMiles: 1) wholly inside the US and 2) wholly outside the US. Alternatively stated, something other than an international itinerary that either starts or ends in the US. Stick to this generalized rule and you should do fine. For TPAC and TATL, simply use a different program. Let’s be resigned to it and move on with life.
There is a 3rd, which is between US and Cancun. I live 45 miles south of Cancun and have to fly back to Atlanta a lot. Yesterday, I booked a RT CUN to ATL in Main for 23,400 miles for 2 weeks from now. I am Silver, and usually get upgraded to C+ on the CUN to ATL leg, and upgraded to 1st on the ATL to CUN leg. I did this just last Friday/Saturday as well, and that ticket was only 22,000 miles in Main. Got those same upgrades also, and used the Concourse F lounge before the flight to CUN. Used the Mera Business Lounge in Cancun Terminal 3 on the way to ATL.
We are in Europe right now, just having flown Delta One in to AMS. We flew on a 330 that Delta got from the merger with NWA (tail # ended November Whisky) that need refurbishing. Besides cheap wine and poor meal options, now it seems the in flight service, once superior on DL, is also gone. I’ve been a DM since the program started but this is my last year. I, like Rene, have found there are better options. I’m going to burn the miles on domestic flights. @FTN Delta Diamond: haven’t tried Turkish Air yet….how could it be any worse?
You might you don’t like $5-$10 supermarket wine and food that is so nuked that it has the consistency of soup?
I have flown Turkish Air twice from San Francisco to Sofia Bulgaria (with a stop in Istanbul), and I really liked it. A colleague just got back from Israel and flew Turkish Air and said it was great.
I loved the United Polaris lounge at SFO, and the Turkish Air business class lounge at the Istanbul airport is outstanding.
My biggest complaint is that the business class seats in the 777s are the old-style business class seats without aisle access for the window and middle seats, similar to the old Air France seats. Book a flight on a 787 if you can. On the other hand, the 777s still have 9 seats across in coach, so if you are flying economy you want to fly on a 777.
First (prior to the pandemic) I saw the writing on the wall at Delta. (Always a DM, Lifetime silver) and I switched my business to AA. Was very happy with them.
Now (post-pandemic) I don’t fly nearly as much. HOWEVER: When I do, I just pick whatever airline offers the best value. I don’t chase loyalty programs anymore. The rewards aren’t worth the effort. Agreed that DL is not a good international value proposition (or even a good one for service for that matter). Too many foreign carriers offer far better value for that.
… and apparently after all of the airline mergers, we clearly don’t have enough domestic competition for the airlines to give a flip anymore about service or competitive pricing.
Delta consistently ranks #1 in America. People really like them. Too bad you didn’t get free socks & mouthwash. There are plenty of people to take your place. Until there is not. Things pretty much will reflect their demand.
So you’re in the “ just shut up and take the insane award/revenue pricing, reduced service and reduced amenities” camp? Do you work for Delta….or the Bank of England?
Do you ever think that the people who have been doing this a while are tired of reducing our expectations, while paying more in every single way from an industry that is always first in line for a taxpayer funded bailout.
You are arguing with AI.
Sorry, this does not compute. 😉
Only who don’t better pay $5,000+ for Delta One. For the same cash price as Delta’s premium economy product, I can get business-class on European airlines.
2% cash back is the way to go. Delta is at the forefront of devaluation, but the others aren’t far behind.
Let’s not forget these days you can earn 5% or darn near it in a high interest savings account. Another reason to opt for the cash back. Alternative is to continue to let inflation eat away at your already-devalued skymiles.
3% or 4% cashback, or 5x points are the ways to go. 😉
(And credit flight miles to some other program.)
ugh! this sucks for those of us who live in Delta hubs like Atlanta and don’t have other alternatives to be loyal to. What are our options?
Don’t be loyal! Fly to another airport and go international from there using other points systems or cash.
I live in ATL. I use Skymiles for some domestic flights at around 1.5cpm with the new discount but mostly pay cash and earn flexible currency on Amex etc. except the 30k per year on my Reserve to keep status. DL is a good domestic airline with nice clubs that are easy to access with a credit card. I fly other airlines for international business class with points.
I’ve always known them as sky pesos. What you haven’t mentioned is the oncoming economic downturn… Prices come down, miles become more valuable? Seems a little alarmist but nothing would surprise me
I burned my last Skypennies on ICN-CDG business (in the poor 2-3-2 Air France setup, but oh well). I just cancelled my Amex Delta and will avoid Delta from now on.
Enough people are still blindly loyal to DL, the devaluation still has room to run, unfortunately. I know someone who signed up for a Delta Reserve card…for a 35k SkyMile bonus. They recently burned 60k on a domestic flight along the US east coast. Didn’t even stop at the sky club.
This is the logical result of consolidation. It was predicted that as airlines became larger with acquisitions they’d rely less on frequent flyer programs to draw in customers.
You don’t need loyalty to them but they don’t need you so much any more either- because so many others have few choices that they line up to take your place. Skypesos are now some form of kabuki theater
(I stopped collecting DL about 5 years ago expecting to burn the rest with partner awards, which are now mostly gone also.)
The writing was on the wall years ago. Haven’t flown Delta in a long time. The remaining miles in my account will be used for partner flights that originate and terminate outside the US. Vietnam Airlines within Asia can still be booked at good redemption rates.