We wrote about Delta’s new way to pay for awards in our February issue, but now, it’s up and running on Delta.com so here’s the full scoop. Delta says you can now “be the boss of your own miles” with the new Pay with Miles option at Delta.com — and SkyMiles members have responded in droves. Delta’s Jeff Robertson told us, “many thousands of members” took advantage of the new way to get award seats during the first seven days of a soft launch of the program, “clearly exceeding our expectations in terms of volume. And the feedback from customers who are calling into our reservations department has been overwhelmingly positive — they like it as an alternative to use their miles and they like it as a guaranteed, 100 percent assurance that they can use their miles.”
As an exclusive benefit, Delta SkyMiles members who have a Gold or Platinum SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express can now opt to pay for Delta tickets with miles, their Gold or Platinum SkyMiles Credit Card or a combination of the two.
This is how it works: For base fares less than $100 your options are to redeem 25,000 miles, or of course, fully pay for the fare with your credit card. For base fares between $100 and $249.99, you can redeem 10,000 miles for $100 off the cost of the flight; or increase the redemption to cover the total fare, starting at 25,000 miles and increase in increments of 5,000 miles ($50 off) to cover the total fare.
For base fares between $250 and $999.99, you can redeem 10,000 miles for $100 off the cost of the flight; or increase the redemption in increments of 5,000 miles ($50 off) to cover all or part of the total fare (15,000 miles for $150 off, 20,000 miles for $200 off, etc.). This is proving to be a popular option for members who are finding fares between $400-600 in the domestic U.S. and paying with half miles, half dollars.
Finally, for total fares equal to or greater than $1,000, you can redeem 10,000 miles for $100 off the cost of the flight; or increase the redemption in increments of 10,000 miles ($100 off) to cover all or part of the total fare (20,000 miles for $200 off, 30,000 miles for $300 off, etc.).
The way this breaks down might seem confusing, but the options are seamless when using the Web site — members simply find the flight they want and can decide how many miles (starting at 10,000) or a combination of miles and cash they wish to spend.
You can also Pay with Miles for multiple tickets on the same itinerary. Note that the amounts listed above are based on base fares that do not include taxes and airline fees. Visit www.insideflyer.com/link/?870.
Delta has been working on these latest award options for 18 months and there’s more to come sometime this summer to early fall: a three-tier award redemption schedule. The current domestic roundtrip Saver award at 25,000 miles will stay the same (currently about 10 percent of seats are available at this lowest award level) but the SkyChoice awards will morph into two options: one at 40,000 miles which will offer members more seat availability (roughly 50 percent) and a new highest level at 60,000 miles. Robertson says that most members currently redeeming at the 50,000-mile level will fall into the 40,000-mile level with the new award schedule. These are flyers who reserve in advance and have some flexibility. Those flyers who have no flexibility will be asked to pay at the higher 60,000-mile level — guaranteeing that if there are any seats available for sale they can be had for free.
Late last year, Delta placed some restrictions on the SkyChoice awards but with the 60,000-mile award, there will be no such restrictions.
“We’ve launched Pay with Miles and we will launch a three-tiered award structure — all with the intent of offering more options, greater access, more convenience and more transparency in how to get your award seats when you want them,” said Robertson.
And as long as we had Jeff on the phone, we asked whether Delta will follow US Airways’ lead to do away with the 500-mile flight minimum and this is what he had to say: “We are currently analyzing that particular change; however, at this point we have no intent of making any changes to our loyalty program with respect to the minimum mileage.”