Delta has devalued its miles for the fourth time in a year offering zero advance notice to flyers. You might want to rethink your loyalty. Just be careful if you go with American next year as it plans to introduce basic economy fares with no frills that are sure to come with all kinds of restrictions.
Delta raises award prices to India with no notice
If you were planning to redeem miles for a flight to India, the one-way price of 70,000 miles in business class each way is no longer available. It has jumped to 97,500 miles, and Delta gave zero notice to SkyMiles members. This means that if you have been saving up, it is going to take much longer to get there. Delta has a long history of devaluing miles in its SkyMiles program without giving advance notice to members, which is something almost every other airline does when making a change. Not only will it cost you more miles to get to India in style now, but you might also become frustrated with the clunky award booking system on delta.com that does not always display accurate or comprehensive routing options. Economy class award redemptions remain the same at 40,000 miles in each direction.
Redeem SkyMiles for a private jet?
If you’re swimming in miles, you can now splurge on a couple of hours in a private jet via Delta Private Jets. It costs 2.5 million miles for a $25,000 jet card, which gets you about five hours of flying. Delta likes members to redeem miles (and lots of them) because it takes liability from its balance sheet, but just remember to seek out the best value possible for your own needs when plunking down hard-earned miles.
Delta opens second Seattle Sky Club
Delta has lifted the curtain on its second Sky Club at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is located between concourses A and B. In addition to the standard offerings of bar and snack stations, there are other amenities like a full-service spa, shower rooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows of the airport activity.
Emirates lounge renovations showcase Moet & Chandon
On your next visit through the concourse B lounge in Dubai when flying Emirates, you’re in for a treat. Following an $11 million in renovations, the airline has launched a new champagne bar in partnership with Moet & Chandon. The champagne label is not new to the airline, but the branded area within the concourse B lounge is. It features champagne and canape pairings for travelers. Other new additions to the lounge include a smoothie and bottled water station in partnership with Voss Water and a branded Costa Coffee outlet inside the lounge.
American launching basic economy fares in January
We know that American has plans to compete with ultra-low cost airlines by offering discounted fares on many routes. It will begin in January. What we don’t know yet is what benefits (or lack thereof) will come with those fares. Delta’s basic economy fares do not permit advanced seat assignments, do not provide elite benefits like upgrade eligibility, and do not permit changes of any kind. American will surely follow a similar path although the details have yet to emerge. When planning travel for 2017, be sure to keep an eye out for this new, more restrictive fare category.
American bonus miles for flights down under
Some of American’s newest long-haul destinations are eligible for some mileage bonuses this year. Make reservations between now and the end of the year for future travel between February 1 and May 31 to either Auckland or Sydney on American to be eligible for the extra miles. The bonus depends upon the type of ticket booked, with full-fare business class earning 10,000 miles one-way and 15,000 on the return. Another one-way trip would earn an extra 25,000 miles. The promotion is aimed at frequent flyers down under, but even a single roundtrip in economy class would earn 4,000 bonus miles with this promotion. Be sure to register before travel.
American rolls out celebrity-inspired domestic first class meals
American is not just investing in catering improvements on international flights. Beginning November 1, premium class flyers will be treated to new dining options (that can be ordered in advance of the flight online). Dallas-based chef Julian Barsotti is designing the meals with dishes like a Nicoise salad with salmon, Vietnamese-style salad with teriyaki chicken, and poblano peppers stuffed with manchego and cotija cheeses among others.
Ryanair to start charging for early passenger check-in
Low-fare leader Ryanair is adding yet another annoying fee for travelers. While the airline charges procrastinators for checking in at the airport, it is now charging a fee for those that want to check in early. Until November 1, the airline allowed travelers to check in as early as a week before the flight, but that has been reduced to between two hours and four days before the flight. Earlier check-in brings better access to assigned seats, but waiting to check in at the airport can be a pricy proposition.