Is it possible to get solid value from Delta Skymiles? This case study that I ran in 2017 points to yes.
I’ve seen Delta Skymiles referred to as “Sky Pesos” and other phrases lately, indicating low value for the frequent flyer currency.
So when it was time to redeem bonus miles I received from spend on the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card from American Express, I didn’t think I would get much more than what I considered to be their usual value. But I was wrong, and in the best way. Here’s what I learned.
Case Study: The South
This article focuses on travel originating in the Southern U.S. (the South) and outside of major cities. The South is peppered with a handful of large cities with millions of people who depart and arrive from busy airports. But largely rural areas make up the rest of the land in these states.
Regional airports serve these rural populations and are the closest departure point for those flying. But this convenience can be quickly diminished by the cash prices of plane tickets.
You could, of course, travel to a larger airport before taking off, but this article focuses on the mix of convenience and cost. So, when you insert frequent flyer miles into the equation the results change dramatically.
In Texas, many wildflowers begin their peak bloom around the beginning of April. These example itineraries below show round trips to see this natural beauty, originating from three regional airports across three states.
Using Delta’s website, I created an itinerary for a long weekend trip to San Antonio, Texas. For these examples I chose to depart on a Friday and return on Monday.
Departing from the regional airport in Tallahassee, FL, the cash airfares listed were some of the highest in my search.
But when searching the exact same itinerary with Delta Skymiles, I was amazed at the value of what was offered.
On this itinerary alone, flights nearly across the board are available for just 20,000 SkyMiles. Compared to the cash equivalent of these same flights, a flyer paying with miles could achieve a value of 2.3 cents per mile when flying on the target dates.
So what’s the usual value? Gary Leff, who writes for View From The Wing, and an expert in points and miles currencies, values Delta SkyMiles at an average of 1.2 cents each.
On the highest end of these dates, the $860 flight translates to 25,000 SkyMiles, returning a value of 3.44 cents per mile.
I searched for the same itinerary to San Antonio departing from Albany, GA. The cash fares were a little lower in this set.
However, the SkyMiles values were still above average.
There were plenty of 20,000-mile fares across the board from ABY to SAT, with a value of 1.86 cents per mile when flying on the target dates.
Searching for fares on the same itinerary from Dothan, AL produced the highest cash fares I saw in this comparison. Some reached near $1,200.
But even in this case, the value with Delta Skymiles was solid.
With plenty of availability for 20,000-mile fares from DHN to SAT, a value of 2.8 cents per mile could be achieved when flying on the target dates, more than doubling the average.
Value from Delta Skymiles: A subjective topic
It’s important to note that the valuation of miles is ultimately up to the person flying. The average values that I choose to adhere to may not be your exact choice.
I still believe there are plenty of ways to get solid value from Delta SkyMiles.
There are also plenty of ways to obtain SkyMiles, whether you are flying or spending with a credit card that has Delta as a transfer partner.
What do you think about the value of SkyMiles? Share your experience in the comments.
Featured image courtesy of Delta.