Partner Flights to Europe with Delta SkyMiles Are Even More Expensive Than I Thought

The other day I wrote about the latest Delta devaluation that increased partner awards to different regions (and came with no notice). One of the silver linings to the recent devaluation was that if you booked a Delta flight as part of the award itinerary, it dropped the mileage requirement to the lowest tier price and thus the price remained the same as it was before the devaluation. Thus, there was a workaround for the devaluation, but I don’t think that’s the case for awards to Europe.

The new redemption rates to Europe

The prior redemption rate for a one way partner award to Europe using Delta miles was 70,000 miles, and the new devaluation increased those mileage requirements to 95,000 for partners.

It’s still pretty easy to find awards for 70,000 on Delta flights.

And for single partner awards you’ll find the redemption rate at 85,000.

However, the issues start popping up when you book a Delta flight along with a partner flight. You do not receive a lower rate.

You actually won’t even be able to see a lot of the availability when you try to put your own Delta + partner awards together. Notice the three Virgin Atlantic flights showing availability from JFK to LHR above. Well, when I switch departure locations those flights either disappear or show no availability.

Here’s another example:

You can see open awards for VS 4.

However, when routing from Las Vegas, there’s no availability showing for VS 4.

And nothing showing for any flights from DFW with VS 4.

And nothing showing from SEA:

I didn’t think too much about this though because it’s common in my experience for search results to spit out different award options when you change the departure location, and I’m sure in Delta’s case its the result of some hyper-complicated inventory process that I don’t care to spend time trying to comprehend.

But I thought I’d at least be able to piece together the flights manually by calling in, since I knew that Virgin Atlantic Flight 26 had open business class seats. However, the phone representatives couldn’t do that for me and told me that the itinerary has to be automatically populated by Delta.

So I don’t think there’s a way to get around the higher mileage requirements by adding a partner by calling in. I thought that was a bummer but I figured I’d just search extra hard online and find eventually find flights with partners + Delta.

Well, that I did, but the results were even more surprising and disappointing.

Partner + Delta awards have increased to Europe

Not only did partner awards increase for a single partner itineraries, but it looks like they actually go up even further when you add a Delta flight. The amount of the increase varies due to Delta’s annoying dynamic pricing, and I saw prices ranging from 117,500 to 140,000 (that’s one way, of course).

Here are some examples of what I saw:

It’s pretty upsetting to see that Delta’s made such a drastic increase in awards to Europe with no notice. Now if you wanted to connect from a place like Las Vegas, you could be asked to pay 140,000 for a  one-way partner award to Europe! I could almost get two roundtrips to Europe with Korean Air miles for that amount. That is utterly ridiculous.

Even the lower rates of 117,500 are terrible, since I could even get a round trip for 110,000 miles with Aeroplan.

This is incredibly confusing because some routes with partners actually went down like flying Korean Air from ATL to ICN. So some partner redemption prices went down and some went up and then some bookings with partners + Delta stayed the same, while others went up (and up again). Add in the fact that these increases are dynamic and that you can’t put together your own segments and SkyMiles quickly becomes a huge (and expensive) PIA to deal with.

After doing what I could to avoid Delta for nearly two years, I finally came around and decided to give them a try for a booking in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic I’ve had in the works for a few months now. That ticket has just gone up to at least 85,000 and if I want to add a connecting flight, I’m going to have to shell out something like 30,000 additional miles or more. I can’t believe these prices and I can’t wait to get rid of these SkyPesos SkyMiles and stick to other loyalty programs that aren’t an absolute nightmare like Delta SkyMiles.