More than 2.5 Cents Per SkyMile

by Michael

It’s no secret that Delta SkyMiles (or SkyPesos, or SkyRubles, depending on which blog you favor) have been massively devalued over the past six months. The consensus on many Boarding Area blogs seems to be that a SkyMile is now worth about 1.3 cents – the lowest of all of the major US carriers. When planning a last-minute, impromptu trip from California to New England for next week, I looked to use some of my stack of miles, as I strongly believe in the “earn and burn” philosophy.

I found a last-minute saver fare on United Business Class going East for 25,000 miles one-way. But with nothing available for return on United, I looked to redeem my SkyMiles. Due to the impending changes to Delta’s award chart (and their lack of detail or visibility), I have no desire to hold on to a large pile of SkyMiles, as they are becoming worth less and less by the week.

Here is what I found for the cash price:

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 1.01.06 PM

And for a mileage redemption for the same flight:

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 1.01.27 PM

Sure, domestic first class doesn’t hold a candle to international first class. But when I can extract a value of 2.55 cents per SkyMile (nearly double their valuation), have extra room to spread out on two flights, free checked bags, and free entry in to the Delta SkyClub during the layover in ATL, this was a pretty easy call. I will be looking forward to trying out Delta’s first class product, especially on their nicely outfitted 767-200 from ATL to SFO.

Yes, it’s a lot of miles to spend on one flight, but it’s also an amazing value for a continually deflated currency.

What would you have done? Have you had any luck getting more value-per-point from your SkyMiles?

Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

13 comments
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13 comments

asar July 24, 2015 - 3:58 pm

How much was the cheapest revenue flight you would have bought?

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Michael July 24, 2015 - 5:41 pm

We weren’t planning on buy a revenue ticket, but I saw one-ways as low as $399 and r/t as low as around $650 in coach.

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Jake from MSP July 24, 2015 - 4:46 pm

Exactly what ASAR said, if you wouldn’t have spent ~$1400 on a F/J ticket, burning the miles on it does not mean that’s how much the rubles are worth.

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shay peleg July 24, 2015 - 4:55 pm

But who would pay the 1400 in the first place? if anything maybe you can value it at 700 meaning you got a very bad value

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Barbara C July 24, 2015 - 7:33 pm

I guess it all depends on what is important to you. I, personally, wouldn’t have used my miles on this. In 2014 I managed 8 cents for business to Europe and in 2016 I managed over 5 cents per point for an upcoming trip to Australia in business. . You just have to plan and have a goal in mind. Yes, it is harder to find the value, but it can still be done!

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ihg newbie July 24, 2015 - 7:35 pm

with all due respect, your analysis is flawed because you are assuming that the first class price is fairly valued. i think 99.5% of people would not pay $1400 out of their own pocket for a domestic F class delta flight.

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Dan July 24, 2015 - 7:47 pm

Agreed that it is a bad example of value.

However, we got two one ways on Korean Air A380 from JFK to ICN and on to Kathmandu is business for 70k each. That’s a legitimate $2000 ticket for 70k miles!

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I Use Miles Because I Won't Pay Revenue Prices... Right?! - OUT AND OUT July 24, 2015 - 9:38 pm

[…] I read an article on Point Me to the Plane about a flight that got 2.5 cents per Delta mile. […]

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Gene July 25, 2015 - 3:05 am

1.3 cpm exceeds my valuation from a year ago. Now it is 1.0 cpm. PWM is the baseline for my new valuatoon….so sad, but I saw this day coming about 2 years ago. I would gladlu cash out at 1 cpm.

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Michael July 25, 2015 - 8:30 am

Thanks for commenting everyone! Interesting to hear and see everyone’s opinions. Would I have paid $1,400 for that ticket? Of course not, but that was the price. My options were pay that price or use Miles. Could I have gotten a first class flight for less on another airline? Probably, but as I said, we weren’t planning on paying.

I do agree with Barbara that you CAN get good value…but with the SkyMile devaluation (and removal of the award chart), I simply didn’t trust that I would be able to find those types of values going forward on Delta.

It all comes down to what is important to the individual. I felt I got a good value here, but I certainly respect all of your opinions!

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Christian July 25, 2015 - 12:07 pm

The truth is we don’t have the necessary information to determine what the proper market value of the ticket should be. The real value of the ticket is the average of what everyone else paid to sit in that section. Because the marketplace is made up of both corporate and leisure travelers all flying for a variety of reasons and needs, the true value of the seat is determined accordingly.

Asking what price you would reasonably pay isn’t an indication of the value of the seat. It is simply a price limit at which you would theoretically be a buyer. It is entirely possible the real value of the seat is higher than you as an individual would be willing to pay.

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john July 25, 2015 - 2:12 pm

Value, like beauty, is subjective. Dumping your nearly worthless skymiles on this ticket provided good “value” for you. Others have good reasons to disagree.

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Giel July 25, 2015 - 9:35 pm

Last month I snagged a fairly last-minute Delta One seat between SFO-JFK for 62.5k miles, paid fares were running $2k. Lucked out on that one.

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