The pace at which airline miles are losing their redemption value accelerated in 2017 by most frequent flier accounts. While overall valuations have yet to catch up, two sneaky and previously undisclosed valuations at Delta Air Lines should be cautiously considered a bellweather for a much more austere future in points and miles redemptions.
Delta’s first nasty surprise came in April, when frequent filers began to notice the airline charging higher prices — up to 25 percent more — on SkyTeam partners.
Overnight, fliers hoping to travel in business class to Europe on airlines like Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic had to pay 85,000, instead of 70,000. Prices to Australia increased from 95,000 to 115,000 on partner Virgin Australia. Economy awards cost more too, although price increases were in the more modest 5,000 mile range.
The airline did it again in late August, when awards to Europe on Virgin Atlantic increased to 102,500 per person. The total change for the year, 50 percent. Most third world currencies offer better price stability than this.
Delta was not alone, of course. United, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air and others all quietly raised prices, and sky-high fuel surcharges began appearing on ever-more redemptions.
Book early and book often. With airlines constantly doling out more free miles, this is a change that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
Point Me To The Plane is examining the biggest trends in air travel and mileage awards in 2017. What are your favorite stories from the past year? Share in the comments below!