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My perfect “bad” Skymiles redemption

A Delta Air Lines aircraft is taking off, with its landing gear still extended. The plane is ascending against a backdrop of a cloudy sky and a landscape featuring trees and buildings. The image has the text "AERO SHOTS" in the bottom right corner.

I always strive to redeem my points and miles for maximum value. Whether that means flying premium class cabins, scheduling travel to coincide with saver or low level award availability, or paying cash when the cent per point value is low – I want maximum value!

BUT, while maximum value is the goal, I don’t let it rule my life…

Sometimes the best redemption for me is considered “bad” by my fellow points enthusiasts, but I don’t let that stop me from redeeming for the travel that I want to take – like my upcoming trip to France!

Alt text: A promotional image for Delta Airlines featuring a woman taking a photo of a scenic landscape with mountains and a lake. The text at the top reads, "IT'S TIME TO SEE THE WORLD WITH YOUR MILES." Below the image is an award receipt showing flight details. The flights listed are:

- Wed:
  - Delta 74, First Class (O), departing Tampa, FL at 6:45pm, arriving in Atlanta at 8:28pm.
  - Delta 84, Delta One (O), departing Atlanta at 11:54pm, arriving in Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 1:30pm.

- Tue:
  - Delta 85, Delta One (O), departing Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 2:40pm, arriving in Atlanta at 7:24pm.
  - Delta 1070, First Class (R), departing Atlanta at 11:25pm, arriving in Tampa, FL at 12:32am.

What makes my redemption “bad”?

More Skymiles – United States to Europe should cost 70k per one-way (140k round-trip) in Business Class. Instead, I redeemed 78.75k per one-way (157.5k round-trip) for two passengers, totaling 315k Skymiles. That little 8.75k premium per one-way creates a difference of 35k Skymiles when considering I redeemed for two round-trip Business Class tickets!

The image is a calendar displaying flight fare prices for the months of March and April. Each day shows a fare price in points, with some days marked as "LOWEST FARE" at 140,000 points. The calendar is organized by week, starting from Sunday and ending on Saturday. The prices vary each day, and some days in April are marked as "NOT AVAILABLE."

I overpaid…

I mean, Skymiles are not the most valuable of frequent flyer miles, but 35k miles is a nice premium to pay for this trip, especially when you consider the…

Inferior Hard Product – The flights booked in this redemption include the two transatlantic flights flown on a Delta 767-400. Based on the reviews that I have read up on so far, the Delta service is great, though the actual seat (aka “hard product”) is beginning to show its age a bit. Other carriers like Air France, and Virgin Atlantic offer a better hard product, and one may argue that Skymiles redemptions on those carriers are the way to go.

The image shows a seat map for a Delta One flight from Atlanta (ATL) to Paris (CDG). The seat map is for the Delta One cabin, which is located at the front of the aircraft. The layout includes a mix of occupied and available seats, with some seats marked as "Selected" and others as "Available." The seat map also includes icons for lavatories and galleys. On the right side of the image, there is a legend explaining the color codes for the seats, and a section with information about Delta One amenities, including a picture of a passenger enjoying the service. There are also options to view seat details, return to the summary, and save the selection.

Point taken.

While it would be great if Delta just decided to fly the ATL-CDG route with their brand spanking new A350s fitted with Delta One Suites, I don’t see that happening any time soon… if ever…

Here are just a few better redemptions you can make for that same ~160,000 Skymiles per person:

One – USA to Europe for 140K round-trip in business class

Same destination, less Skymiles!

Two – USA to Asia for 95K miles one-way in business class

Longer trip, better hard product offerings, and better overall availability on the China carriers (China Eastern, China Southern, China Airlines)!

Three – Japan to Australia or New Zealand for for 130k miles round-trip in business class

USA to the South Pacific is notoriously difficult to find award redemptions for – everybody wants them! A better option may be to position to Japan and fly to Australia/New Zealand with Skymiles!

Four – USA to USA for as low as 10k miles round-trip in economy

Skymiles will take you a loooong way when redeeming for short little hopper flights about the USA!

So, with all that noise and everyone around me telling me this is a “bad” redemption, I went ahead and booked it anyway!

And here is why…

The image shows a Delta Air Lines airplane taking off. The aircraft is angled upwards, ascending into the sky. The background features a landscape with trees and buildings, indicating that the plane is departing from an airport located near a populated area. The sky appears overcast. The words "AERO SHOTS" are visible in the bottom right corner of the image.
Photo credit – http://aero-shots.boardingarea.com/

What makes this redemption perfect? Timing!

One – A late departure out of ATL 

For my wife and I, the accumulation of points and [Sky]miles is easy! The tough part is stretching our corporate provided 3 weeks of paid time off to cover all the vacations and points redemptions we want to make! A late departure time out of ATL (11:54pm) means we do not have to take a day off of work on our day of departure, thereby saving that day for a future trip to be taken.

Two – Just 1 connection through ATL

Being a Tampa based flyer, routing to an end destination in Europe is tough! There are 4 direct flights from Tampa to European cities, but these routes almost never go on sale and are strangely difficult to ever find award availability on. The direct routes didn’t fit, so the next best option would be to connect in a nearby US city – in this case ATL (just a 1hr flight from TPA)!

Three – Coincides with our local Tampa schools Spring Break

There are three times in the year where corporate work seems to stall out – during summer break, Christmas break, and spring break! These are so many people taking time off during these times of the year that everyone is just forced to accept lower productivity. Everyone expects you to take time off during this time, so why not go ahead and meet their expectations. Many of mine and my wife’s coworkers have kids and will be taking off this time (including our bosses), making it great time to also be out of the office.

Of course, these also happen to be some of the most expensive times to travel, but if you plan ahead and catch a destination on a shoulder season (i.e. off peak) these can be the best time to travel!

The image shows a cheese shop with a variety of cheeses displayed on tables and shelves. There is a French flag hanging above the display, indicating that the shop likely specializes in French cheeses. The cheeses are arranged in stacks and piles, with some cut into smaller pieces and others still in large blocks. The shop has a rustic and cozy atmosphere, with dim lighting and various decorations. In the background, there are more shelves with additional products and a person working behind the counter.

Final Thought

I paid a 35k Skymiles premium for this redemption, and I think it was well worth it! There are times in this points and miles hobby where the most important thing is in fact the journey (i.e. Singapore Suites, Lufthansa First, Qatar Q-Suites, Etihad Apartments, Emirates First, need I continue?), but in this case, I am just trying to get my wife to France!

Don’t always get so caught up with “good” and “bad” points/miles redemptions. It’s good to understand the value of the different currencies and how they can be leveraged, but keep in mind that the “good” miles redemptions may not always be the perfect one for you!

Have you ever made a “bad” (i.e. paid more points than the lowest level to fly on inferior product) points redemption to meet some other travel need of yours (i.e. better timing!)?

Happy Travels!


The image shows a simple white line drawing of a paper airplane on a blue circular background.


  1. Great post! It’s always a good redemption if it is good for your family and or companion travelers!

    Flying domestic, I will almost always take a direct flight if available as long as the difference isn’t awful. My family (especially my wife) really appreciates it.

    On one other trip MKE to CLT I was able to us BA Avios on AA metal at Spring break. I booked it one week prior to Spring Break (last minute decision to take my family!). There were no flights coming up with conventional search, so I did one way to DFW (late night and then looked for DFW to CLT the next morning. Found both legs available! Saved on no close in fees with BA, so that was good. But BA is distance based, so I did burn additional miles going from MKE-DFW-next day CLT. Also overnight hotel in DFW, but used a free IHG night that was going to expire soon anyway. But well worth it or the trip wasn’t going to happen. Rented a car in CLT (using Chase travel portal) and drove to Charleston, SC to round out the trip!

    Points are no good unless you use them and they always devalue over time anyway (usually)!

  2. The best thing to do is actually rid of Skymiles and fly anyone else but DL. Did you know United has available seats 95% of the time going to anywhere in the word in Business Class for 20-50% less than DL?! Ive seen DL charge more for Coach than SQ First Suites from JFK-FRA. Ive seen DL bring up the redemption cost so high on a “low ” miles ticket I almost puked. 125,000 miles one way business class on China Eastern when booked within 21 days. the same seat on American’s partner Cathay pacific is 110,000 miles in FIRST! or 70,000 in Business. United literally has wide open availability to Asia for 80K in Business! Thats 15-45,000 LESS than Delta. Ive convinced 100s to dump Delta and their credit card and I will not stop! DL is a propaganda company. they have some decent people on the front line but overall their business class product is pretty bad and its by far the most expensive to redeem.

    1. This redemption effectively rid me of my Skymiles, and I am down to about 148 now and plan to keep it that way for awhile!

      There are some sweet spots here and there as I noted in the post, but not worth holding onto long-term and risk further devaluation…


  3. I actually disagree that this is a bad redemption. I’m planning a trip to Paris for next summer for 4 people and Delta flights in Delta1 haven’t dropped below 137.5k one way. I’m in Chicago and was hoping to use skypesos for AF or DL as I have a decent stockpile but not at that price. 78k is just off the low saver level so “bad” is too strong a term. As a bond trader I learned years ago you aren’t always gonna buy the bottom.

    If you want a “perfect, bad” redemption I have one on my Paris trip. I was able to grab 3 saver business awards on AA’s new ORD-VCE to get to Europe (no one seemed to mind a few extra days added to the trip to see Venice). That was 57.5k AA miles each for ticket. On the way home from Europe I got 4 saver biz awards CDG-FRA-ORD on UA at 57.5k miles each as well But that left me needing one ORD-VCE award. I bit the bullet and paid 135k o/w for a saver award. I was able to add a positioning flight the day before to make it a MCO-ORD-VCE to at least save on the flight getting my mom to Chicago. My avg for the flight there is close to yours at 76k AA miles.

    Paying up more than the low saver amount sucks for sure. But flying in coach sucks more! As we sip our PDB and watch all the people file past us back to coach….I think you’ll agree it’s the best 7,850 miles you’ve ever spent 🙂

    1. Agreed! It is bad in that it is not the best, but relative to many other Delta redemptions, this one was not too far off of the ideal price! I am all for maximizing value, but even above that is my desire to travel the world – where I want, how I want, and for relatively no cash down!

      Thanks for the note,

  4. on an unrelated note, can you please modify the javascript code you’ve deployed for this page ? for whatever reason, it appears to override my regular mouse wheel scroll pace and i’m forced to use the up/down keys to be able to review the content.

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