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As a Delta loyalist, I normally have nothing poor to say about the airline. However, as someone that values Delta miles (especially when they have great sales to Europe like this one), they have made an extremely disappointing change.
Delta has introduced the ability to use miles to pay for upgrades on any ticket except for Basic Economy. This means most folks will be getting less value for their Delta miles as Delta takes a step toward making their miles something closer cash back rewards. And for Delta elites, you can expect to see fewer complimentary upgrades coming your way.
I’ll explain why.
Delta Is Allowing You to Pay for Upgrades With Miles
One of the largest gripes among the general public is that “miles and points are so worthless” and following that is usually “I want to be able to spend them in more ways.” Unfortunately, the second statement causes the first statement to be true.
Delta is now allowing you can use your miles to upgrade your seat. While this seems great, it actually spells out disaster for many Delta miles collectors. Delta CEO Ed Bastian has publicly stated that they would like for Delta miles to eventually be worth roughly 1 cent per point, and this option is a step in that direction.
In addition, this will be a bit of a slap in the face to those with elite status. With more ways for the average flyer to easily book First Class, those with elite status will receive less complimentary upgrades. To me, it seems they value people spending on their American Express co-branded cards more than their frequent flyers. Once again, brands are making it harder and harder to be loyal. Although for me, Hilton is an exception to the rule.
How This Works
If you are in the middle of booking a flight, you will be served this prompt toward the bottom of the page before checkout. It very clearly shows that your upgrade will get you a 1 cent per point value, which isn’t very good.
However, this is the frustrating part.
In this booking, the value for your points is pretty good actually! It adds up to about 1.5 cents per point for a main cabin seat.
But if you were to upgrade to Comfort+, your value now becomes even less. The same goes for First Class. So here’s a GIF of how I feel currently.
You can also upgrade with miles after your initial booking on Delta’s website. The capability to do this on Delta’s app is reportedly coming early in 2019.
I’m a very brand loyal person, especially to Delta. However, this blatant devaluation of Delta miles is frustrating. My best suggestion to be as diligent as possible when redeeming points. I recently had a great redemption on American Airlines where I was able to get double my estimated value for my miles!
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Hat tip: View From the Wing