Delta removes mileage award charts from website

One of frequent fliers’ biggest gripes is frustration while trying to redeem their miles for flights at the base rate.

Now, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has decided to remove from its website the charts that show customers the rates.

Delta SkyMiles members can instead find out how many miles a flight will cost by choosing a particular route and date, then going through the airline’s online booking engine. According to Delta, the new award calendar that pops up gives a more realistic, real-time view of how many miles are required.

But Delta’s removal of its mileage award charts has sparked criticism from travel bloggers, who say it reduces transparency and makes it more difficult for travelers to easily see in advance how many miles they will need for a dream trip. They also say it raises the specter that Delta could quietly devalue miles at will, by increasing the amount required for flights.

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“We all have goals in mind of how we want to use our miles. When you change the game unilaterally, it’s very frustrating for consumers,” said Brian Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com.

Delta, for its part, says it has not raised rates since removing the charts last Friday. “We’re going to maintain the 25,000 round-trip level” as the lowest rate for flights within the continental U.S., said Delta spokesman Anthony Black. And, “we have added more awards at that level as promised, as part of the 2015 SkyMiles program.”

The move away from mileage award charts is part of a broader transformation Delta is making to its frequent flier program this year, to focus more on rewarding high-spending customers such as corporate travelers. That includes a shift to earning miles based on dollars spent, rather than distance flown.

Some travel bloggers had also raised concerns about the lack of availability of Delta flights at the lowest rate within three weeks of departure, though a quick search showed some flights available at that rate such as from Atlanta to Chicago or Miami. “We continue to offer flights at the 25,000 level within three weeks of departure,” Black said.

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