UPDATE: Delta has since increased the price for partner awards to Europe back to 25,000 SkyMiles each way.
Airlines are constantly devaluing your miles by charging more for award tickets. This isn't one of those stories.
While the amount of SkyMiles you need to book a Delta flight is constantly changing, it's different with partner airlines. If you use SkyMiles to fly Air France, KLM, China Airlines or other partners, the prices are more stable – and often cheaper, thanks to a (hidden) partner award chart.
And those rates just got even lower, as Delta has cut Skymiles partner award rates in economy by as much as 40%.
Breaking Down Delta's Cheaper Partner Awards
With no announcement and little fanfare, Delta appears to have cut the cost to fly to Europe or Asia using SkyMiles.
It's unclear if this is a permanent cut or a temporary sale, like the frequent Delta SkyMiles flash sales the airline offers on its own flights. If it's a temporary sale, it would be the first of its kind extended to partner airlines.
Unfortunately, only economy award tickets are cheaper – business class award rates remain unchanged.
But no matter how you slice it, these decreases are absolutely massive. You'll find the biggest decreases flying to Europe.
Delta has started selling economy flights from the U.S. to Europe on partner airlines (including KLM, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic) for just 15,000 SkyMiles each way, or 30,000 miles round-trip. That's down from the previous norm of 25,000 SkyMiles, or 50,000 SkyMiles round-trip – a 40% decrease!
Some of Delta's partner airlines from Asia are also cheaper when using SkyMiles, too. We're seeing flights from the U.S. to Asia on Korean Air, China Airlines, or China Eastern as low as 32,500 each way in economy, or 65,000 miles round-trip. Just recently, these flights were 37,500 miles each way, or 75,000 miles round-trip. That makes it a 13% decrease for partner flights to Asia.
Delta frequently charges far more SkyMiles for its own flights to Europe or Asia, so this is a steal. It just doubles down the tremendous value of using your SkyMiles on partner airlines. Most airlines charge at least 60,000 miles for round-trip flights to Europe.
Thrifty Tip #1: Finding award availability at these rates can be tricky, so be sure to use Delta's “Price Calendar” search function.
Thrifty Tip #2: Filter for nonstop flights in your search to make sure you see these flights at the cheapest rates Delta seems to hide award flights on partner airlines.
Again, only economy award tickets are getting a price cut here. Business class award rates haven't dropped on Air France or KLM (75,000 miles each way), Virgin Atlantic (86,000 SkyMiles each way), or Asian carriers like Korean and China Airlines (85,000 SkyMiles each way).
Here's a full look at the new rates we're seeing for flying economy for some of Delta's biggest partner airlines, with one-way rates shown. Keep in mind that you may pay more SkyMiles when booking closer to departure.
|Airline||Economy 60+ Days||Economy 22-59 Days||Economy within 21 Days|
These lower rates don't just apply to nonstop flights to each partner's respective hub. In many cases, you can connect onward elsewhere within Europe and still pay just 15,000 SkyMiles each way total!
For example, you can find flights on KLM from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Moscow (SVO) for just 15,000 SkyMiles. Even with an extra flight from Amsterdam (AMS) to Moscow, you're still just flying from the U.S. to Europe in the eyes of Delta's partner award chart.
Just look at how much more you'd have to pay if your initial flight across the Atlantic was on a Delta plane: 102,000 SkyMiles!
In the world of points and miles, good news – and awards getting cheaper – is rare. Airlines constantly jack up award rates, charging you more.
Some of these decreases on partner award bookings with SkyMiles are massive. So while booking flights on Delta can be frustrating with ever-changing and increasingly expensive rates, using SkyMiles to fly airlines like Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and China Airlines just got even better.
Of course, this could just be a temporary sale rather than a permanent change. So book now!
I saw multiple 40K RT for two, economy, MSP to ATH, late Jan 2020 to early Feb 2020.
Clicked thru to find flights were 92K!!
Called them twice, and elevated to supervisor both times. Both times they were unable to find those 40K trips.
Second time, the “supervisor” frustrated when I mentioned I would post this situation online, and she actually hung up me 🙁
I am sad. I live in Delta territory and want to utilize them 🙁
How would you onward somewhere else for the same rate? Let’s say you want IAD-WAW, so you search for IAD-CDG, find it, then call in and say now add WAW to it?
You could search the two segments you’re looking for separately – ie IAD-CDG/AMS, then CDG/AMS-WAW – to confirm availability on the day(s) you need it. Then use those dates to search for IAD-WAW as one itinerary, and book it all via Delta.