There's a chance I might head to Paris next spring for a quick trip, and it represents a good opportunity (if it happens) to clean out my stash of Sky Miles. Despite not having any idea of the dates or even if I actually will end up going, I decided to search availability just to see what's what. This is the first time I've run into Delta's new award pricing structure in which partner awards are never lower than level 2 pricing (according to their non-existent chart).
Six months ago, it would have cost the same amount (70k) to fly on Delta or on Air France. Ten months ago, it would have been even cheaper (62.5k). Such is life in Delta's new America, where devaluations come fast and hard, and you just gotta hang on for dear life. Now, even though there's saver availability on Air France, it still cots 85,000 miles, while Delta's own flight stays the same at 70k.
This brings up an interesting question... which one would you pick? The travel time isn't drastically different, and the SEA-CDG leg on the Delta itinerary is on an A330, which features Delta's reverse herringbone seat. While it's not going to blow you away, it's definitely a comfortable way to cross the Atlantic. The SkyWest flight up to Seattle isn't great, but you get the benefit of the E175's 1-2 configuration in first class, and since it's a Delta Shuttle flight, it will have full meal service even though it's a short flight. What I'm saying is, it's a perfectly acceptable itinerary.
Flying Air France is better, of course. It's on a 777 that will finally be retrofitted with their "new" reverse herringbone business class that has been on the market for almost three years. (The SFO-CDG flight has taken a frustratingly long time to get the new configuration.) It's not too different from Delta's, although it has more storage space and extra elbow room due to the wider fuselage on the 777. Probably better food, too.
So, would you pay an extra 15,000 miles to take the direct flight in the (marginally) better cabin? I'm curious, since I'm definitely of two minds about it. For a quick solo trip, I'd probably save the miles and suffer the connection, despite wanting to try Air France's new business class. I already feel guilty using miles to fly long haul business class on solo trips, so it would probably be good not to drain the overall stash too much. If Justine and I were going on vacation together, it would be a pretty easy choice to blow the extra miles on the direct flight just to make everything smoother.
Ultimately, these are the types of choices Delta is forcing upon us with their most recent whack against the Sky Miles tree, although I should point out that availability on Delta is actually pretty good for flights to Paris, and that's commendable. At least if they're going to gouge us on partner awards, it's nice that they also aren't draining away all the availability on their own flights like some other domestic carriers. Even better that they open space on domestic positioning legs from an outstation like SFO. United could take a lesson from them, since transatlantic availability from SFO almost always involves a domestic leg in economy to somewhere at least a few hours away. Of course, that's due to United's abysmal domestic first class availability on its own flights, which is a topic for another post. At least for the time being, Delta is compensating for its objectively shitty devaluation spree by providing a decent amount of opportunity to redeem at the pre-devaluation amount. Well, pre-the most recent devaluation, at least...