Every other week, it seems Delta announces another round of devaluations to their Skymiles frequent flyer program. In the points and miles world, a Delta Skymile is the brunt of every joke: “it’s like the Zimbabwe dollar”, or “why are you accruing Skypesos?.” That should be enough to signal what you’re getting!
Delta really gets no love, and rightfully so since they often make negative changes to the way you can redeem miles. In particular, heavy credit card spenders and frequent fliers are hit the hardest due to their investment in the program. But, that’s not to say there is no value in the program. In fact, there is tremendous value in the program for domestic redemptions. But, I truly believe the Delta Skymile has changed the mindset of an award traveler for the worse, due to the expectation that redeeming for anything but a saver award is bad value. And I disagree. Let me explain.
Just last week, I booked a few trips to the Southeast for Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Typically, American and Delta offer the best routes, so I largely book with either carrier. Of course, my first step in the process involved taking a look at awards for my desired routes. I didn’t see anything out of the blue, but what caught me off guard was my internal reaction to the prices offered:
- Award: American
- One-way travel for 20K AAnytime award
- Reaction: “terrible deal, why is there no saver space available”
- Award: Delta
- One-way travel for 26K Skymiles
- Reaction: “pretty decent use of Skypesos, I should probably book this route before it requires more miles”
This seemed quite logical at first, but then I started thinking about this more clearly. Why the hell would I book a one-way award on Delta for 26K Skymiles when I could get the same award for 20K on American? I mean, I’m always willing to pay more than the minimum 9-11K Skymiles rate for a Delta award, so why wouldn’t I do the same on American? It’s not like using an extra 10K on American would preclude me from booking other trips later in the year.
And that’s the moment when I realized my logic was flawed. I have become obsessed with finding sAAver award availability with American, to the point that I won’t even consider an AAnytime award at a higher rate. What is it with squeezing the most value out of miles that leads one to suboptimal choices, like booking with cash when you have more than enough miles to cover your trip and other planned travel for the next 12 months?!? I’d say scarcity mindset is to blame, as well as over-optimization. Two sins to getting things done.
Or, you can call it how it is: I’m obsessed with finding the perfect award. It’s an affliction of many award travelers, and I need to get myself out of this rut. The hard truth is an award is solid if you have enough miles to book your award without over allocating miles for planned future travel. Forget mathematical calculations or value of your miles, getting an award for free wins every time.
I don’t envision many will agree with my view, but from this point moving forward, I am going to allow myself to book AAnytime awards on American when award travel is cheaper than Delta, assuming I have plenty of miles for my future travels. If I allow myself to book “AAnytime award equivalents on Delta, why wouldn’t I do the same on American?