Rebuilding the SkyMiles Award Chart

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Old May 20, 15, 11:45 am
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Rebuilding the SkyMiles Award Chart

Keeping in mind that there is a massive number of city pair permutations (even just the total number of country pair permutations is huge) I've embarked on an effort to collect, index and document the various award rates for different trips. And the range is astonishing.

Welcome to HowManySkyMiles.com.

For some routes the rates are consistent; always on partners and holding to a "fixed" number tied to a zone or such. For other routes the numbers vary. In some cases it is end-on-end pricing. In others it is varying fare classes on the Delta side. And in others there are quirks like an end-on-end pricing which makes no sense at all. For each rate there is a sample itinerary available listing the flight operator, number and city pair.

I'm no where close to having a complete data set, but it is broad enough now that I wanted to open it up to users and get some feedback. In the meantime I'm continuing to collect and add data to the site.





If there is a specific country pair or origin point you want to see more data on more quickly just holler and I'll see what I can make happen.

Enjoy.

Read more about HowManySkyMiles.com on my blog, including some sample data.
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Old May 20, 15, 11:53 am
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In the example, you seem to have four award levels, L D S K in order, but DL supposedly has/had five tiers? Does this mean that no low level award space (N and O) was found over some time period from USA (or ATL?) to France (CDG or other airports included?)?

Do the lowest numbers of miles for each level necessarily correspond to nonstops, as seems to be confirmed by them having the lowest fees in this example? If so, it looks like DL is doing additive pricing, possibly with the domestic connection being at a lower level of miles for the award tickets that seem to cost slightly more miles than the nonstop at the same level?

ADDED: To answer the last question in my first paragraph, I see N and O level (low) rates for some other examples. So the five levels are still there.

Note that in most markets, you can identity the nonstops by looking for the lowest fees. These flights wouldn't be mixed awards or have additive pricing.

ADDED AGAIN: I'm intrigued by the question of how this tool is going to identify when DL's "award charts" that we cannot see have changed. Would the criterion be that no awards at the old levels have been found for a certain period of time? [It sounds like an event study type of problem, just like trying to detect new information in stock prices.]

Last edited by MSPeconomist; May 20, 15 at 12:06 pm
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Old May 20, 15, 12:35 pm
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I have been using this:

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Old May 20, 15, 12:36 pm
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There are absolutely scenarios where connecting itineraries have "low" pricing. Not always, but it does happen. There are others where a connection has a mid-level price and yet others where a connection prices end-on-end because that's cheaper than the through pricing. But there are also plenty of non-stop flights which do not price at the lowest tier. The US-Oz data in the system right now reflects that scenario.

As for identifying when things change, well, I haven't made it that far insomuch as I don't even have a full first set of data yet. But all of the entries are time-stamped so it would not be too hard to compare old versus new if I collect another round of data in the future. The collection process is not trivial so that won't happen all the time, but I should be able to refresh the data from time to time.
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Old May 20, 15, 2:04 pm
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Thanks a bunch for doing this - I'd been toying with doing something similar in my spare time!

One of the ideas I had was crowdsourcing the data collection using a browser extension. My thought was that a Chrome extension could optionally scrape the results any searches that are done by FlyerTalkers (and anyone interested in the community), and then could present you with the option to submit it to a site that aggregates everyone's results. This could also help expose individual pricing changes, like differences based on status.

Just an idea for future expansion. The first step in that would be adding a form to let viewers submit observations manually, and then the browser extension could be built on top of that...
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Old May 20, 15, 2:55 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
There are absolutely scenarios where connecting itineraries have "low" pricing. Not always, but it does happen. There are others where a connection has a mid-level price and yet others where a connection prices end-on-end because that's cheaper than the through pricing. But there are also plenty of non-stop flights which do not price at the lowest tier. The US-Oz data in the system right now reflects that scenario.

As for identifying when things change, well, I haven't made it that far insomuch as I don't even have a full first set of data yet. But all of the entries are time-stamped so it would not be too hard to compare old versus new if I collect another round of data in the future. The collection process is not trivial so that won't happen all the time, but I should be able to refresh the data from time to time.
I know that connections can still price as low, as mixed, or even additively (for the same tier, when this should not be the case but married segment logic is probably playing a role here), but I was commenting that in your USA to France example, the lowest award prices shown in miles also had the lowest fees ($5.60), which looked like TSA and other government imposed taxes and fees for a single segment. It's suggestive to me that the way to get relatively low award tickets is to look for nonstops, including looking for destinations with nonstop service from your home airport.
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Old May 20, 15, 3:52 pm
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There are some dates in October where ATL to CDG is 62,500 miles in Business with fees from $5.60 to $30.20. So Delta has not eliminated the 62.5k business award from US to Europe.

Do you think your data did not include October? Or perhaps 62.5 was not available on the day you downloaded the data.

In any case thanks for undertaking this as it would be fantastic to create a chart for the FT community for future reference.
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Old May 20, 15, 4:11 pm
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I booked 4 OW trips in April for September travel. 2 JFK-SVO-PRG, 2 VIE-SVO-JFK at Low (62,500 + fees) and 2 RT MSY-JFK-SVO-PRG, VIE-SVO-JFK-MSY all at Low (125,000 + fees).

How do you want the details sent to you and what information do you want?
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Old May 20, 15, 4:14 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Keeping in mind that there is a massive number of city pair permutations (even just the total number of country pair permutations is huge) I've embarked on an effort to collect, index and document the various award rates for different trips. And the range is astonishing.

Welcome to HowManySkyMiles.com.

For some routes the rates are consistent; always on partners and holding to a "fixed" number tied to a zone or such. For other routes the numbers vary. In some cases it is end-on-end pricing. In others it is varying fare classes on the Delta side. And in others there are quirks like an end-on-end pricing which makes no sense at all. For each rate there is a sample itinerary available listing the flight operator, number and city pair.

I'm no where close to having a complete data set, but it is broad enough now that I wanted to open it up to users and get some feedback. In the meantime I'm continuing to collect and add data to the site.





If there is a specific country pair or origin point you want to see more data on more quickly just holler and I'll see what I can make happen.

Enjoy.

Read more about HowManySkyMiles.com on my blog, including some sample data.

FT community at its best.
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Old May 20, 15, 4:25 pm
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Originally Posted by mfFrom35K View Post
There are some dates in October where ATL to CDG is 62,500 miles in Business with fees from $5.60 to $30.20. So Delta has not eliminated the 62.5k business award from US to Europe.
I know it is not eliminated. The data I have is, necessarily, an incomplete snapshot of what might be out there for various routes as seen at various times. It will never be comprehensive but it is my hope that I can amass enough to give a better view of what the numbers look like than the blank page which currently exists. And I am working to grow the collection but it takes time. I will probably spend a few hours tonight (and likely into the next few days) putting together a browser extension as a few have suggested to help speed the collection process.

Originally Posted by SuperG1955 View Post
I booked 4 OW trips in April for September travel. 2 JFK-SVO-PRG, 2 VIE-SVO-JFK at Low (62,500 + fees) and 2 RT MSY-JFK-SVO-PRG, VIE-SVO-JFK-MSY all at Low (125,000 + fees).

How do you want the details sent to you and what information do you want?
I'm not quite ready to start collecting and including all of it yet I don't think, but if you want to send me a PM now while you're thinking about it then it will be on me to get it done. Flight numbers and fees would be useful.
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Old May 20, 15, 4:54 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
In the example, you seem to have four award levels, L D S K in order, but DL supposedly has/had five tiers? Does this mean that no low level award space (N and O) was found over some time period from USA (or ATL?) to France (CDG or other airports included?)?

Do the lowest numbers of miles for each level necessarily correspond to nonstops, as seems to be confirmed by them having the lowest fees in this example? If so, it looks like DL is doing additive pricing, possibly with the domestic connection being at a lower level of miles for the award tickets that seem to cost slightly more miles than the nonstop at the same level?

ADDED: To answer the last question in my first paragraph, I see N and O level (low) rates for some other examples. So the five levels are still there.

Note that in most markets, you can identity the nonstops by looking for the lowest fees. These flights wouldn't be mixed awards or have additive pricing.

ADDED AGAIN: I'm intrigued by the question of how this tool is going to identify when DL's "award charts" that we cannot see have changed. Would the criterion be that no awards at the old levels have been found for a certain period of time? [It sounds like an event study type of problem, just like trying to detect new information in stock prices.]
Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
I know that connections can still price as low, as mixed, or even additively (for the same tier, when this should not be the case but married segment logic is probably playing a role here), but I was commenting that in your USA to France example, the lowest award prices shown in miles also had the lowest fees ($5.60), which looked like TSA and other government imposed taxes and fees for a single segment. It's suggestive to me that the way to get relatively low award tickets is to look for nonstops, including looking for destinations with nonstop service from your home airport.
DL is certainly doing additive pricing. For example, 95,000 for Business Class US to France indicates Level 2 domestic (OL) plus Level 1 TATL (O).

Taxes and fees are certainly going to be least expensive on non-stops. The more connections you have, and more importantly the more countries you hit along the way, the higher taxes you will have.

The lowest taxes and fees will have no correlation to the lowest price in miles. Additive pricing comes into play when a higher tier Delta award is mixed with a lower tier award (often a partner). These taxes would be charged no matter which level of Delta award you are mixing with, and would be the same even if you were combining with a level 1 Delta flight. Further, flights with the lowest taxes and fees might be more likely to be non-stops, but that doesn't mean Delta is pricing them at Saver levels. You may well find better availability partially or entirely on partners, with or without connecting flights, than you would find with a Delta non-stop with $5.60 taxes and fees.
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Old May 20, 15, 5:04 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
I...

I'm not quite ready to start collecting and including all of it yet I don't think, but if you want to send me a PM now while you're thinking about it then it will be on me to get it done. Flight numbers and fees would be useful.
PM sent with full ticket details. The ticket details do show the Class.
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Old May 20, 15, 7:16 pm
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
Additive pricing comes into play when a higher tier Delta award is mixed with a lower tier award (often a partner).
True, but I've also seen several examples where a DL segment will price in a higher bucket than is necessary to sell an award. NS is currently available for LAX-SYD on 3 Aug 2015. But DL 110 ATL-LAX is only available in NK so the whole award goes up in price to the 95k level (NK US-AU) rather than the 85k level (NS US-AU). If the LAX-SYD dropped to a lower bucket such that the total price could be lowered via end-on-end then the DL system would absolutely price it that way rather than raising the fare bucket up to match.
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Old May 20, 15, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
DL is certainly doing additive pricing. For example, 95,000 for Business Class US to France indicates Level 2 domestic (OL) plus Level 1 TATL (O).

Taxes and fees are certainly going to be least expensive on non-stops. The more connections you have, and more importantly the more countries you hit along the way, the higher taxes you will have.

The lowest taxes and fees will have no correlation to the lowest price in miles. Additive pricing comes into play when a higher tier Delta award is mixed with a lower tier award (often a partner). These taxes would be charged no matter which level of Delta award you are mixing with, and would be the same even if you were combining with a level 1 Delta flight. Further, flights with the lowest taxes and fees might be more likely to be non-stops, but that doesn't mean Delta is pricing them at Saver levels. You may well find better availability partially or entirely on partners, with or without connecting flights, than you would find with a Delta non-stop with $5.60 taxes and fees.
I understand all of that. Pricing should be additive if there's a partner flight and a connecting flight that isn't available at low (N or O class), but sometimes we see additive pricing for two or more DL segments when pricing the entire thing at the higher level would cost fewer miles. To me, that indicates that the award booking search tool is broken.
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Old May 20, 15, 8:00 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
I understand all of that. Pricing should be additive if there's a partner flight and a connecting flight that isn't available at low (N or O class), but sometimes we see additive pricing for two or more DL segments when pricing the entire thing at the higher level would cost fewer miles. To me, that indicates that the award booking search tool is broken.
I'm pretty sure that it's working exactly as designed. (That's the both sad and scary part.) Don't forget, DL has been working on Polaris (the new res system) for a good 5 years.
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