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Most in the miles and points world would contend that the Delta SkyMiles program is not to be trusted, and certainly not somewhere you want to park large sums of miles for long periods of time as devaluations within that program can be quick and frequent. We know that some awards are getting more expensive/dynamically priced for travel beginning on June 1st, and some of those may be getting much more expensive. Of course many awards will stay the same price, but if you get an opportunity to use SkyMiles at a decent rate of return I say take it and don’t look back.
Right now Delta is advertising a sale on both award flights and paid fares. The award flights start at just 5,000 miles each way. Not surprisingly given Delta’s move for dynamic/revenue based award pricing, the flights that are available for a discounted number of miles are also available for a discounted cash fare. This means you want to do the math and make sure your rate of return per mile is within a range that is acceptable to you. There is no firm target of what that number should be, but as a general range I would personally want to get at least 1.5 – 2.0 cents for my airline miles – including my Delta SkyMiles. Some of the award flights on sale are within that range, and some are not.
As an example, one of the advertised fares is Seattle – San Francisco for 5,000 miles + taxes/fees or $89 each way if paying with cash. Factoring in taxes, that means that redemption is giving you 1.65 cents per mile return. That isn’t record breaking, but it isn’t bad either.
A sampling of the routes on sale include:
Portland – Seattle 5,000 miles each way
Boise – Seattle 5,000 miles each way
San Diego – Salt Lake City 7,500 miles each way
Atlanta – Austin 7,500 miles each way
Bangor – New York LaGuardia 10,000 miles each way
JFK – San Antonio 10,000 miles each way
If you want to book some of these discounted routes, you must book by August 6, and travel between August 6 and December 16, 2015. You must purchase the fares at least 14 days in advance, have a Saturday night stay, round trip purchase is required, and there are some blackout dates. You can get all the details of the sale and available routes here.
I know that there are Delta SkyMiles redemptions that will give a higher rate of return than the discounted routes available via this sale, but this really could be a solid opportunity for some travelers. This is especially for families who may have enough miles for four people to fly on 15,000 mile round trip tickets, but will never have enough miles to take advantage of business class tickets to Europe, Australia, etc. even if the cents per mile return on those tickets is higher.