Suprise! SkyMiles Do Have Value | The Importance of Mileage Diversification

For a long time I’ve thought Delta miles are pretty much junk.

While there are a lot of facts behind my thoughts about the Delta Skymiles program, the basic gist of it is that whenever I’ve been trying to book flights with miles, I’ve always found Delta tickets the hardest to book at the lowest redemption level. 

However, just because I’m not a big fan of the SkyMiles program doesn’t mean I’m too good to accumulate SkyMiles.  Basically, when there is an alternative to earning SkyMiles I take it, and when there’s not, I’ll gladly earn SkyMiles.

Last week I had about 75,000 Delta SkyMiles in my account.  Most of those points were accumulated by (are you ready for this big surprise) bonus points I earned from getting the Delta SkyMiles credit card.

Due to a death in my family, I decided to make a last minute trip back to Canada to attend the funeral.  I have some Southwest flight credits that are expiring, but in order to use them I would have needed to:

  1. Fly out of Houston Hobby, which was quite inconvenient for such a short trip.
  2. Fly into either Detroit or Buffalo, both of which are more than a five hour drive from my final destination.

My dad mentioned that there is a small airport close to my final destination.  If you’ve never tried to fly into a small airport, that typically entails a pretty decent extra cost because remote airports get less traffic.  My travel was no different.  While I could fly into Detroit for around $300, a flight to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan was going to run me $900.

There is only one airline that services the airport – Delta.

I signed into my Delta account not having any idea how many miles I had, and there were some (75,000, as I mentioned above).

I figured that there was no way five days in advance I’d find any flights that had a reasonable redemption rate.  However, both flights on my preferred departure date were available.  My trip back on Thursday also had availability, so I could do it for 25,000 miles.

Still, I was apprehensive because I know when I’ve tried to book last minute tickets with miles most airlines will charge a fee for booking within seven days.  I’ve since learned that Delta is the only airline that does not charge an extra fee for booking with points with such short notice.

What surprised me the most was that there were no additional fees.  The total cost using my Delta SkyMiles was 25,000 and $10.

So, Delta.  I do apologize to you.  There are some redeeming qualities about collecting your miles.

Interestingly, my lunch cost $7.75 on the way up.  It’s strange paying 75% of a trip cost just on lunch.

The Lesson: Collect whatever miles you can because you never know when you’ll need them.  Diversify!



  1. says

    Excellent validation. I have been reading a lot lately about Delta, and it appears one of the great hidden secrets is that they release a bunch of low level redemption seats within the last couple of weeks/days that normally would not be available during earlier planning stages. It is a risk to wait until the last minute, but appears to be an excellent way to get some decent value out of Delta Skymiles.

    • Craig says

      It’s been a long time since I’ve booked with Delta last minute, but my experience certainly seems to confirm what you’re reading.

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