I’d say the answer to that question depends on who you are and where you want to go. I’m not going to render an opinion, I just want to share my first experience using this option with you. Delta’s Pay With Miles program is only available to SkyMiles members who carry the Gold, Platinum or Reserve Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express. I think it’s pretty clear to regular readers of this blog that I like Delta Air Lines just fine. However, Delta SkyMiles leaves a bit to be desired in my book when it comes to award availability, and especially my favorite award spend, upgrades. That said, Pay With Miles worked out OK for me this week, and I thought I’d share the details.
A little background might be useful. Mrs MJonTravel and I are traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma in March for a weekend visit. We’re gonna see the Black Eyed Peas while we’re there too! In any event, I need to depart on Friday, March 19th and return on Sunday, March 21st. I’d like to leave most anytime on Friday as long as we are there by 4PM or so, and I don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to come back on Sunday morning after the concert. Frankly, this is a trip that I’d rather not use any miles for but after pricing the trip, I quickly concluded that miles were the only way I’d ever do this. Why? I’m sorry, but I’m not paying over $700 dollars for the 2 of us to get to anywhere in Oklahoma for a weekend! Southwest wanted over $1,100 dollars to depart from BWI and change planes once or twice. No, I’m not making this up. I did find a sub 200 dollar fare on Delta, but I had to return at 5:50AM. Out of the question!
Straight SkyMiles awards were pricing out at 40,000 roundtrip on delta.com and nwa.com with the same horrid schedules as that sub 200 dollar regular fare. A decent schedule was going to cost me 50,000 miles per ticket. 40 to 50 thousand miles to connect to an RJ in Atlanta for trip to Tulsa? No thanks. I decided to take a look at the Pay With Miles options, and suddenly things began to look a little more promising. I pieced together a schedule that met our needs with a fare of $338 dollars each. Choosing the pay for miles option gave me choices of using as little as 10,000 miles each for a $100 dollar discount each all the way up to 35,000 miles or $350 dollars off each fare, in other words, free. I went with 30,000 miles and paid $38 dollars each for our tickets. Not a bad outcome, especially considering the same itinerary I booked priced out just now at 60,000 miles each!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t prescient enough to check the price of a straight award booking for our exact flights when I made the purchase. I’m certain it was at least 40,000 miles which kind of makes me wonder what the heck is up with Delta’s pricing and fare logic? I can do a straight award booking and pay 40,000 miles, or do Pay With Miles and book the same trip for free with 35,000 miles. Seems off to me. In any event, Pay With Miles is just another option, and it worked out fairly well for me this time. I know there are better spends for miles, but I’m OK with the decision I made. You can read all about Pay With Miles on Delta.com, and judge for yourself. You might also check out Gary Leff’s thoughts on this program when it first hit the scene. Very useful as were the links to others’ opinions on the subject.