SkyMiles Evaluation: Some Real Examples in December 2015

As Delta continues to focus on profitability and rewarding its stockholders, news has not been kind to its loyal flyers.  Earlier in 2015, Delta announced that SkyMiles required to redeem a free ticket would be based on demand, and would no longer be a fixed amount.  Starting in 2016, “really small” small businesses are no longer welcome in the SkyBonus program as it requires $5,000 annual spending on Delta tickets, and at least, 5 unique employees conducting eligible travel during each calendar year.

Are SkyMiles really not worth the frequent flyers’ loyalty?

Below is the list of products or services one can redeem with SkyMiles.  The following comparison does not take into any consideration of the cost factor such as that how SkyMiles are earned, how any Bonus SkyMiles are gifted, or what Delta’s Medallion status an individual has.  The value per mile varies from product to product.

Product  Criteria  Class of Service   Dollar Amount  Mileage  Value Per Mile 
LAX to JFK  Flexible Dates in March Economy  $340   25,000  1.36 cents 
LAX to JFK  Flexible Dates in March First  $1,300  65,000  2 cents 
CLE to HKG  Flexible Dates in March  Economy  $1,100  70,000  1.57 cents 
CLE to HKG  Flexible Dates in March First  $5,800  140,000  4.14 cents 
SEA to FCO  Flexible Dates in March  Economy  $1,195  60,000  1.93 cents 
SEA to FCO  Flexible Dates in March First  $6,395  125,000  5.12 cents 
SkyClub Membership  Annual  Individual  $450  70,000  0.64 cents 
SkyClub Membership  Annual  Executive  $695  110,000  0.63 cents 

Clearly, redeeming SkyMiles for international first class (i.e. Delta One) long haul flights is the best way to go if the focus is strictly on the value per mile basis.  Using the CLE to HKG example above, redeeming a Delta One round trip ticket is as if getting approximately 4% cash back.  In the SEA to FCO example, it’s as if earning 5% cash back.

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