Coming soon: Redeem Delta miles for private jet flights

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Delta’s ears were burning from my recent discussion with MMS editor Brendan as to whether Delta miles are good for literally anything. They’ve been irritating us lately with their lack of regard for loyalty members.

By the end of 2021, Delta members will be able to redeem SkyMiles for flights on private jets, which was first reported by Private Jet Card Comparisons. And while it’s too early to tell how valuable this latest development will actually be, we always welcome new and unique ways to redeem miles and points! Even if they’re a bad value, there’s nothing wrong with options. Here’s what we know.

The cabin’s all yours. Bring along five or six friends! (Image courtesy of Wheels Up)

Use Delta miles with Wheels Up

In the miles and points world, it’s easy to forget that there’s anything better than first class — but there is. Private charter jets. If you’re sitting on a private jet, call your estranged father and let him know you’ve made it in life.

Granted, you probably won’t get first class amenities you’d find on a large airline like:

  • Krug champagne
  • Onboard showers
  • Lie-flat seats
  • Your own isolated cubicle

Private jets are more utilitarian and convenient. Depart at whatever time you want, avoid airport security lines, go from obscure point A to obscure point B with no connections necessary. Oh, and the whole plane is yours for the trip. That means generally between six and eight passengers, depending on the plane you choose.

Wheels Up is a company that absorbed Delta’s own jet charter operations in 2019. They partner with Delta to give loyalty members elite status and Delta miles when enrolling or renewing membership. Here are the Delta perks when flying Wheels Up.

Now, they’re partnering with Delta to give SkyMiles holders the ability to redeem their points for flights on these planes by the end of the year! Certain Delta elites will even get exclusive benefits.

Wheels Up also intends to create its own loyalty program before 2022.

Is it a good deal?

The only question any of us care about is redemption value. How many Delta miles is it going to take for me to fly on a private jet??

We don’t know… The redemption costs haven’t been revealed yet. However, Delta used to allow loyalty members to redeem Delta miles for flights before they jettisoned the program to Wheels Up in 2018. The redemption value then was “2.5 million miles for a $25,000 jet card.” In other words, 1 cent per mile towards private jets.

Take a look at a random route and date for Wheels Up: Dayton to Orange County on May 10, at 2:05pm.

Yowza, $24,000 after taxes, one-way. If the redemption rates stay the same, that’s 2,400,000 Delta miles! Yes, it can seat eight passengers, meaning the effective price per seat is 300,000 miles. Depending on where you’re flying from, you may be able to book a round-trip business class flight to Europe for that price.

Amex Delta credit cards currently have some of the biggest bonuses we’ve ever seen — if they stick around, you could earn ~500,000 by opening them all — but that still wouldn’t make much of a dent in your charter jet aspirations. Delta doesn’t even allow you to freely share your miles with other Delta members (you’ll pay 1 cent per mile transferred, plus fees), so it’s unlikely that you and your SkyMiles-rich travel buddies could even pool your miles to make this happen.

Again, at the moment we don’t know if the redemption rate will be 1 cent per mile, but there’s a good chance. If so, this would be far from the best way to use Delta miles. This would fall in line with Delta’s Pay With Miles program that allows you to effectively “buy” Delta flights for 1 cent per mile without having to worry about award availability or blackout dates.

Bottom line

By the end of 2021, you’ll be able to redeem your Delta miles for flights on a private jet. We don’t yet know the value you’ll get when redeeming them toward a charter jet, but just the ability to use miles in a new way makes this notable.

We estimate Delta miles value to be 1.25 cents each, on average — so if this redemption option gives a return worse than that, it’s best to steer clear.

Let us know what you think about this latest development! And subscribe to our newsletter for more posts like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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