SkyMiles Award Availability: Not “The Bloodbath I Was Expecting”?

pparently not all is doom and gloom with the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles frequent guest loyalty program — at least, not when it comes to award availability.

Members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program will “experience significant improvements to award-redemption functionality” in 2015, according to Paul Skrbec — who is manager of corporate communications at Delta Air Lines — back on Thursday, March 6, 2014 when the SkyMiles awards redemption chart effective as of January 1, 2015 for travel from the continental United States, Alaska and Canada was released.

That claim of improved SkyMiles award availability has apparently been confirmed, depending on your definition of the word improved: according to the chart below as tirelessly prepared by FlyerTalk member javabytes — who was admittedly quite curious yet apprehensive about how the new five-tier award chart would affect the redemptions of SkyMiles effective as of Thursday, January 1, 2015 — in this discussion posted on FlyerTalk, the results were “not nearly as bad as I expected. In the vast majority of cases I sampled, the new award tiers have been used for good instead of evil so far: a tremendous number of awards previously at the old Medium (Tier 3) level dropped into Tier 2, and from the old High (Tier 5) level into Tier 4”; and “in some cases, availability at Low/Tier 1 also greatly expanded, especially for domestic premium class travel.”

Here is the chart as prepared by javabytes:

Chart prepared by FlyerTalk member javabytes.

Chart prepared by FlyerTalk member javabytes. Click on the chart for a larger view.

The above chart reflects searches for 16 different city pairs — for every day across nearly ten months — of award redemptions for seats in both the economy class cabin and premium class cabins. Just shy of 10,000 combinations in total, the same searches — on non-stop flights operated by Delta Air Lines for one passenger — were repeated early in the new year.

“Some routes remain as tight as ever, such as LAX-SYD, where the cheapest awards are Tier 3, and even then only available 0.6% of the time, with nearly 99% of days at Tier 5 or unavailable”, posted javabytes. “It seems as though there are some new areas to navigate, such as married segment availability, but the 5 tier system so far hasn’t been the bloodbath I was expecting.”

The highlights of the award charts for the redemption of SkyMiles in all classes include no price increases to the lowest award redemption levels, as previously reported here at The Gate — and of the 44 award level pricing changes, greater than 95 percent are decreases; or 42 award level pricing changes are decreases while only two are increases, as shown below:

Chart courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

Chart courtesy of Delta Air Lines. Click on the chart for a larger view.

Chart courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

Chart courtesy of Delta Air Lines. Click on the chart for a larger view.

Of the five levels revealed for the 2015 SkyMiles redemption charts, two of the levels — Level 2 and Level 4 — are new intermediate levels supposedly designed to complement new features such as the new award tickets for one-way flights; as well as the ability to redeem SkyMiles plus cash award options. In addition,

Additionally, Level 1 was formerly known as the Saver level; Level 3 was formerly known as the Standard level; and Level 5 was formerly known as the Peak level.

Also, let us not forget that many members of the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program will earn fewer SkyMiles on their paid flights in 2015 than with the current award charts; and:

  • The availability of lower-cost international business fares will reportedly decrease; and
  • You can only earn a maximum of 75,000 SkyMiles per ticket purchased — no matter how much you have paid for the ticket — as I reported in this recent article and as shown below:
    • $5,769.23 and have Diamond Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
    • $6,818.18 and have Diamond Medallion elite level status
    • $6,818.18 and have Platinum Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
    • $8,333.33 and have Platinum Medallion elite level status
    • $7,500.00 and have Gold Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
    • $9,375.00 and have Gold Medallion elite level status
    • $8,333.33 and have Silver Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
    • $10,714.29 and have Silver Medallion elite level status
    • $10,714.29 and no elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
    • $15,000.00 and have no elite level status

 

I have yet to experience redeeming SkyMiles in 2015 with the new award redemption chart and availability of those awards; so I personally cannot comment on it at this time. Is your experience comparable?

3 thoughts on “SkyMiles Award Availability: Not “The Bloodbath I Was Expecting”?”

  1. JEM says:

    very limited sample, but yes, I’my seeing level 1 one-ways on routes that NEVER had Low level awards previously.

  2. Tom L says:

    I’ve also had good success with three awards booked in the new year. Two tickets BE BWI-NRT booked for non-medallions using my miles — one at 160,000 and one at 180,000 — not low RT for both, but still not bad.
    The other for a DM out DCA-SIN and back from KUL at 140,000. Both ways through ICN, using KE over the Pacific out and DL back.

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