Long Term Travel: Ditch Delta Airlines?

Today was a day of thorough thinking about focusing my mileage earning on Delta. I cut a deal with a friend a while back to trade his United vouchers for a Delta award ticket. I got good use of the vouchers for my positioning flights for my recent mileage run to San Diego and back.

Today I booked the award flight for him. I had to fork over 40,000 skymiles to get the ticket. This also happens to be for an award ticket to San Diego from Atlanta. I have noticed recently that a LOT of award tickets are pricing for the medium and high tier of miles. It seems to be getting increasingly difficult to find the low level awards. The result: Delta Skymiles are worth a LOT less to me now.

I am a little back and forth since I more or less have to fly Delta for work out of Atlanta. I could do Airtran but they are horrible as an airline and even worse for award flights (no international to speak of). I will still be earning Delta miles from work flights. I will make the best use of them that I can.

If I did start diverting my credit card earnings I will go with United. I was surprised how easy it was to find low level award seats to Asia and Europe when planning ahead. It also helps that they are part of Star Alliance and have more options due to the sheer amount of airlines they can book with. They are not great out of Atlanta but I will take an extra layover if it takes half the miles to get me where I want to go. No matter who I earn with I get 1 mile per dollar spent. I need to maximize this!

I have not made my decision yet but I know my long term loyalty will shift to Star Alliance/United. As long as the award booking stays this plentiful and simple they will get my business. I am weighing the two options trying to balance long term versus short term needs. For now I may end up splitting it for flexibility. More on this when I finalize my strategy!