Airline devaluations are one of the guarantees in life. Some airlines will devalue their mileage currency annually and some will do it every three to four years. This hurts the consumer since it often takes more miles or a larger fee has to be paid in the form of a “surcharge” for an award redemption. Delta is known to devalue their Sky Miles frequently and without warning. Some in the frequent flier world refer to their miles as “Sky Pesos.” United doesn’t devalue as often but this particular devaluation will hurt travelers regardless of cabin class.
Prior to November 1st, the most you would ever use for a domestic one way ticket in economy was 25k miles . Now if you want that one way ticket during the holiday season or any other holiday, there are some days where you won’t have an option that’s cheaper than 32.5k miles. Here is an example for a one way ticket from Chicago to Los Angeles:
Business class transcontinental award tickets will also jump up to 35k miles for saver economy and 60k miles for everyday or peak times. The same holds true for an international award ticket. Business class tickets originating in the U.S. will see a 5k to 10k increase in miles on just about every route.
Delta on the other hand is starting to devalue their Sky Miles by rolling out fuel surcharges on flights to Europe. You won’t see it on every route just yet but here is an example of a one way flight from Paris to Seattle:
As you can see, the surcharge for this one way flight is a ridiculous 215 euros. That’s in addition to the 50k miles at minimum that are needed for this redemption. Whether Delta rolls out this surcharge for all flights into and out of Europe or only those are departing or landing on the West Coast remains to be seen.
Regardless of which airline program you participate in, frequent flier miles always depreciate over time. Sometimes, the devaluation occurs without warning. Use them quickly because you just might need a whole lot more if you wait.
Image source: http://www.trendler.com