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Value Of Frequent Flier Miles Diminishing

By Author: Steve Robinson
Total Articles: 468

People who travel often as a result of finding cheap travel deals, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages, will be disappointed to learn that Delta Air Lines is following United Airlines lead and increasing the number of miles needed to redeem frequent flier award tickets on many of its routes.

The only good news is that Delta’s increases are much less severe that the ones made by United. Delta’s new higher mileage redemption requirement will take effect for free tickets reserved now for travel after February 1st.

SkyMiles members can continue to book Award Tickets for travel before February 1st, 2014, at the current Award redemption levels.

Delta’s prices its award tickets in three categories: Saver (requires the least miles), Standard, and Peak (requires the most miles). Delta is not changing its mileage requirement on all three levels on all routes.

Included in Delta’s changes are:

• Coach class tickets will remain the same for flights within mainland United States, with select first class seats costing an additional 5,000 to 10,000 more miles.

• Non Saver Business Elite seats on flights to North Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea, will require 10,000 to 20,000 more miles.

• The least expensive “saver” awards to Hawaii are requiring additional miles in all classes of service, increasing between 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Delta’s frequent fliers have found that redeeming SkyMiles for free tickets can be an extremely frustrating and time consuming experience even for the most advanced mileage expert. In a May 2012 survey Delta came in last of 23 airlines in award seat availability. Often Delta frequent fliers must spend double or even more miles to secure a free seat in a program that starts offering free round trip coach tickets within the continental USA at 25,000 miles.

Although fliers with competing airlines sometimes raise complaints regarding finding free tickets at a minimum mileage level, frequent fliers and travel experts have observed that it is most difficult at Delta.

United Airlines announced on November 1st that it would be raising the mileage redemption levels for some award tickets by over 60 percent and increasing the mileage required for some of its most popular destinations such as those to Hawaii. The new changes go into effect for award tickets booked on or after February 1st, 2014.

The good news with United’s new mileage redemption requirements is that many mileage requirements on United flights are not changing and many of the devaluations occurring are on business and first class redemptions. Domestic mileage requirements on United will remain at 25,000 miles for economy, 50,000 miles for business, and 70,000 miles on first class.

The bad news is that many popular redemption destinations will change. Hawaii will cost 45,000 miles in coach instead of 40,000 miles. Flights to southern South America will cost 10,000 more miles roundtrip in business class and 5,000 more miles roundtrip in first.

The cost of award tickets from North America to Europe is going up. Currently it costs 50,000 miles each way in business class and 67,500 miles each way in first. After the devaluation, it will cost 57,500 in business and 80,000 miles in first. This equates to a 15 percent increase in the cost of business class redemptions and an almost 19 percent increase in first class.

Flights from North America to the Middle East, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand will cost more in terms of miles in all three classes of service.

Partner airline redemptions are impacted the most, with Europe costing 40 percent more for business class awards and 63 percent on first class awards. A first class ticket to Northern or Southern Africa will require 73 percent more miles, with first class redemptions to the Middle East jumping by 87 percent.

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