This is a self-serving post because I’m asking you for information instead of trying to tell you what I know. Last year, Delta removed the award charts from its website and said it would be enforcing new rules for pricing award tickets: whatever the computer says is correct. Don’t try to call in and argue with the agent.
In theory there are as many as five different award tiers. Partner awards and the cheapest Delta awards are at Level 1. Delta may have additional prices for its own flights at Levels 2-5 depending on demand if Level 1 is not available.
All this meant that, while there is no chart you can see, at least there is a chart somewhere. But Delta released another statement saying that on June 1 it would begin dynamic award pricing.
We know your miles are important, so we want to provide the most notice possible regarding Award price changes. For travel on or after June 1, 2016, the number of miles needed will change based on destination, demand and other dynamics. Most Award prices will remain unchanged. Miles needed to upgrade under the Mileage Upgrade Award program will increase, and to provide greater access to these upgrades, we’ve expanded the eligible types of fares.
This essentially says that, if Delta feels like it, they can just change the price to whatever they want on the basis of factors known only to them.
I’m curious if anyone has actually seen dynamic pricing in action. Several blogs, including Matthew’s Live and Let’s Fly, have covered this story before. I haven’t seen anyone mention it more recently even though we’re now a week into June. I took a look at some routes on various dates, but I still saw prices that seemed to match the old charts.
For example, here are the award levels (from screenshots hosted on Dan’s Deals) for awards within the Continental U.S., Alaska, and Canada.
- Level 1: 12,500
- Level 2: 17,500
- Level 3: 20,000
- Level 4: 25,000
- Level 5: 32,500
And here is a sample award calendar for a one-way domestic transcon. Every price on the calendar matches one of the five prices above.
So, did Delta change their mind? Is dynamic pricing incredibly rare? Or is this whole thing just a clever way of telling members that Delta will make future updates to its award pricing without notice — i.e., a chart still exists, but the chart will change from day to day?
The statement that “most award prices will remain unchanged” suggests this is not the same as the usual mass devaluations that hit most airlines every couple of years. I’m assuming Delta is reserving the right to implement temporary increases that can also be reversed when those dynamic factors are no longer an issue.
If you have any evidence of dynamic pricing, feel free to send it to me by email (email@example.com) or include it in your comment below.