Very likely at least in part due to significant pressure from vocal unhappy folks and negative media stories, Delta has released their 2015 award chart much earlier than was previously announced (fourth quarter 2014). They announced a week or so ago that they would be moving to a revenue based model on the earning side (meaning you earn miles based on how much you spend, not how far you fly), and that didn’t sit well with those passionate about their miles and points. There was real concern at one point that they wanted to move to a total revenue model with both earning and redemptions tied to the price of tickets, and there was also fear that they would simply seriously gut the award chart by dramatically increasing the number of miles required for certain awards. Thankfully that isn’t happening…at least in 2015. In fact, the award chart that was just released doesn’t appear to be that bad on the surface.
Delta touts on the award chart that “Highlights include no price increases to our lowest Award redemption levels. Of the 44 Award level pricing changes, more than 95% are decreases. For Award Travel bookings before January 1, 2015, please visit delta.com/chart”.
It indeed moves to a five tier model as was expected, meaning that any given route can have up to five potential pricing points in miles. For example, a regular domestic round trip ticket could cost 25,000, 35,000, 40,000, 50,000, or 65,000 miles beginning January 1st. That is up from the three available categories now that were 25,000, 40,000, or 60,000 miles for that type of ticket. A round trip ticket to Europe in a premium cabin will still start at 125,000 miles round trip and will top out at 295,000 at the highest level (down from 325,000 at the highest level currently).
You can view the whole award chart here. The fear with five tiers is that the availability will be improved at the higher levels, but not the lower levels. Most of us like to book at the lowest saver level, but now there are four levels higher than that that Delta can have in play at any given time. We won’t know what the full picture is until 2015 and time tells what award availability really looks like at the various levels. Until then, I think it is a positive that Delta went ahead and released the charts. It is a positive that one-way awards will be permitted. It is a positive that there were no increases at the lowest redemption levels. It was a positive that they didn’t introduce a higher priced partner award chart like United did earlier this year.
All those positives aren’t enough for me to start making Delta miles a priority in my own miles and points collecting, but I will certainly continue to watch and see what happens. All in all, I think it is much better than it could have been…at least on paper, and I am glad they went ahead and shared the award charts with their customers.