Delta SkyMiles Anomaly: Awards Cost Less From Boston–HUH!?!?

by John Harper

Delta’s SkyMiles program seems to be entwined in some sort of love affair with Boston Logan Airport (BOS). For the past few months, SkyMiles awards both international and domestic often price out far cheaper when originating in the Fair City, even when the connection takes you through a city on which the award might be priced double or more.

Boston SkyMiles members are getting great value for their redemptions. At the other end of the deal, New York SkyMiles members appear to be getting ripped off. Of course, Delta has been on a long trail to obfuscate its SkyMiles program to the point where even paid experts, like those at Juicy Miles, strain to keep up with award prices.

I first noticed this anomaly in May, when I was booking award travel to New Orleans (MSY).

Award tickets from New York City airports to MSY were pricing at 28,000 SkyMiles or more, main cabin, one-way. I decided to look to neighboring airports, in last-minute desperation, and was surprised to find that I could depart from Boston, instead, for 12,000 SkyMiles.

What’s odd about this? The Boston flight connected to a LGA to MSY segment that priced out at 28,000 miles if I booked it from New York. 

In spite, I decided to book the flight and catch a $10 Peter Pan bus to Boston. I flew back and connected to New Orleans through my hometown airport, ugh %#@(*%, and pocketed 16,000 SkyMiles, more than enough to take advantage of a future Peter Pan bus trip to Boston. Summer reading, anyone?

For those who, like me, are trapped in Delta loyalty: slurping up some extra AMEX Delta bonus points could help offset the cost of avoiding a Boston bus trip.

The phenomenon appears most persistent for last-minute bookings (within a week or two of travel). The Boston effect isn’t universal, but seems fairly common.

My New Orleans situation was easily replicated this coming month.

Flights from New York to New Orleans:

Delta SkyMiles New York New Orleans calendar

Flights from Boston to New Orleans:

Delta SkyMiles Boston New Orleans calendar

Flights from Boston to New Orleans, that include the otherwise higher priced nonstop leg from New York:

Delta SkyMiles Boston New York New Orleans flight

For a more dramatic example, let’s jump the pond.

Nonstop main cabin service on Delta and partner Virgin Atlantic are 105,000 SkyMiles one-way from New York City. Crying. Tears of sadness. Running down my cheeks.

Delta Virgin Atlantic New York London award calendar

These high prices are consistent across other nearby cities. I checked Washington, D.C. airports, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Delta SkyMiles Washington London award calendar

Delta SkyMiles Cleveland London award calendar

Delta SkyMiles Pittsburgh London award calendar

Except Boston, where this itinerary costs less than half the number of SkyMiles:

Delta SkyMiles Boston New York London award calendar

Gasp!

One day, Aug. 5, was a nonstop Virgin Atlantic flight from Boston to London Heathrow (LHR). The other days all included connections to nonstop flights from New York! Not only is economy priced at Level 1, Virgin’s lovely Premium Economy seats are available to Bostonians at a fraction of the cost New Yorkers (and Washingtonians and Clevelanders and Yinzers) must now redeem for a lowly passage.

Delta SkyMiles Boston New York London Virgin Atlantic award flight seats economy, premium economy

Upshot

Like many Delta frequent flyers, I’m basically pulling my hair out at this point. To those who live in Boston, congratulations, you’re the chosen benefactors for Delta’s SkyMiles pittance.

Go Yankees.

Previously: Having Trouble Spending SkyMiles? Try These Sort-Of Secret Options

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5 comments
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5 comments

John July 26, 2018 - 5:53 pm

Have fun, Delta flyers! Those in NYC have a choice…and deserve the bad Delta redemptions.

Reply
John July 27, 2018 - 4:19 pm

We may have choices, but for many they aren’t very good. Newark airport is not accessible to me, given where I live and work in Brooklyn. American doesn’t serve any of my most frequent routes well, or at all (MSY, IAH, PDX, DEN TXL, SEA). JetBlue has no transatlantic presence to speak of. It doesn’t really make sense for me to give up my Delta status to go with any of those airlines.

Reply
02nz July 26, 2018 - 8:05 pm

I have most of my miles with UA but also a lot with AA, and just a bit with DL. For a trip to Europe this summer I looked at all three airlines, in business class. Decent availability on UA partners at 70K each way (tons last minute – practically every route on Lufthansa), not too bad on AA at 57.5 (but if flying with partners like BA then hefty “fuel surcharges”). Delta? 280K each way. The five-week calendar shows not a single day with a lower award price. I get that Delta runs a better operation overall. But enough that I’d be willing to suck up 4x-5x the award prices? No hell way.

Reply
Ed July 26, 2018 - 8:34 pm

Instead of Boston, fly from Providence, RI. Closer to NYC and same low mileage awards.

Reply
BDQ July 27, 2018 - 7:49 am

I have seen that! Last year I got ATL-BOS for 15,000 miles roundtrip over holiday weekend instead of a ~$300 ticket. There were similar offers this year too.

Reply

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