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Delta recently announced their 2011 SkyMiles program changes and I have to say, they are looking pretty positive. While nothing fundamental is changing, here are a couple key benefits:
1) Elimination of expiration date. This is an advantage that will be of special value to the infrequent flyer and I hope all other airlines follow.
2) SkyTeam ElitePlus for Gold Medallions begins March 1, 2011. I wrote about this in October and I’m glad Delta is following through. This means Gold Medallions will have access to Skyteam lounges when traveling internationally and will get priority baggage handling.
3) More preferred seats blocked off for Medallions – this change was probably necessary since Medallion ranks have swelled with all of the Amex MQM promos. I think it’s easier to count who isn’t a silver medallion.
4) Upgrades on Alaska Airlines for Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions (only on paid tickets – not awards).
There are some other enhancements, like the Economy Comfort cabin, though the jury is still out on whether Medallions on coach award tickets will get access to Economy Comfort seats.
Skymiles redemptions are still extremely difficult, but Delta claims to be working to make the booking process easier. Time will tell, and I’ll have to wait and see before making a final judgement about any improvements to their online ticketing process.
Overall, while the offerings are far from perfect, it’s clear that Delta is making positive changes to their program and will continue to be a formidable competitor in the frequent flyer arena.