Delta Gets a Cranky Jackass Award for Misleading One Way Award Travel

Let me make something very clear: Never, ever book one way award travel on Delta. Not only is the value poor compared Cranky Jackassto other airlines, but their screwy system overcharges you above and beyond that. It’s so misleading, that I’ve decided it’s Cranky Jackass-worthy. Now, let me explain.

We had a Cranky Concierge client last week, let’s call her Dr Ann Elizabeth Amanda, who needed to go from Portland to Providence one way just a couple days later. The fares were in the $600 range and she just wasn’t going to pay that. Dr Ann Elizabeth Amanda has a lot of miles on Delta, so she figured she would just use them for the one way trip. She called Delta and was told it was 40,000 miles, so then she called us.

Now, I would rarely if ever suggest using miles for a one way trip on Delta. See, unlike American and United, Delta doesn’t actually offer one way awards. You have to pay the full amount as if it were a roundtrip. As a casual program member, you might not realize that because on the Delta.com website, they give you an option to look up one way awards. They just don’t tell you the cost is the same.

Sure enough, when we looked up award availability for the one way trip, it showed 40,000 miles which is the equivalent of what they call a “medium price award.” There were no low price seats available, which would have cost the industry standard 25,000 miles. Here’s a screenshot:

Delta One Way Award Ripoff

So at this point, it’s only mildly shady in that those who don’t know the program may be duped into thinking this is actually a one way award. But here’s where the shadiness goes off the charts.

To get a one way award, Delta simply looks at the award level you’re in and uses the roundtrip value. In this case, that’s 40,000 miles for a medium award. But Delta actually lets you combine award levels to make a complete roundtrip ticket by using half the amount of each award. We knew this so we pulled up the award calendar and opted for a roundtrip flight. When would the return occur? It would just happen on the first day that a low price award was available. That, unsurprisingly knowing Delta’s availability levels, wasn’t until September.

What happened now? The price magically dropped to 32,500. That’s right. Half the medium award (20,000) plus half the low price award (12,500) saved Dr Ann Elizabeth Amanda 7,500 miles and she got an extra return flight out of it that she could either throw away or use at a later date. Don’t believe me? Here’s the screenshot:

Delta Roundtrip Award

Now that is downright wrong. You can understand now why I say never, ever book a Delta one way award. I would say it’s not worth using your miles for a one way award on Delta in nearly all circumstances, but on those rare occasions when it needs to be done, you might as well book the roundtrip because it may very well save you miles.

Pretty awful stuff, Delta.

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