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Rumor: Delta Considering Drastic SkyMiles Changes

by on March 20, 2012 · 143 comments

in Delta, Flyertalk

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According to a thread on FlyerTalk, rumors are floating around that Delta is considering changing its SkyMiles frequent flyer program from a distance-flown formula to a revenue-based formula where the number of miles you’re awarded is based on the money you spend, similar to the fixed-value programs of JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America.

Rumored Rollout Plan
One of the posters even went so far as to leak a supposed rollout plan for the changes, which I’ll quote here, but again as a disclaimer, we have no confirmation from Delta that this is actually happening:

“The Loyalty Program is comprised of two projects that seek to increase revenue and customer loyalty along with
decreasing liability related to unused award miles. Coordinated communication to the general public regarding the
intentions of these changes is paramount to acceptance.

Revenue Based Mileage Accrual (RBMA) project shifts the basis for awarding miles to a revenue based accrual approach
Release 0: Support the communication/announcement of upcoming SkyMiles program changes (targeted 1Q12).
Will no longer display distance flown miles for departures after new miles accrual effective date (targeted for 3Q12)
Release 0.5: Provide Mileage Calculator to calculate approximate revenue based mileage accrual based on travel
after launch ((targeted 2Q12)
Release 1: Convert SkyMiles System from flown miles to revenue based mileage accrual (3Q12)
Release 2: Reward SkyMiles members with miles for all non-air purchases (i.e. SkyClub, Seats) (currently On Hold)

Fare Based Award Ticket Redemption (FBATR) project
Fast Track Release – Provides limited base functionality to align with the Polaris Chicago release timing

Phase I at Launch introduces Fare Based Award Redemption Model, Single Shopping Experience for Customer, New Award Inventory Controls, Cash + Miles Award Redemption Product, Award Redemption for OA, Modifications to the automated Award Refund, Redeposit, and Reissue and Exchange Process

Phase II – After Launch includes Bid for Price Award Redemption Product, Buy It Now Award Redemption Product, Volume Discount Award Redemption Product, Modifications to SkyMiles Branded Mileage Upgrade Products, and Modifications to SkyMiles System-Wide Upgrade Certificates.”

Consequences
If these changes were to go into effect, I think it would be bad news for several reasons.

As savvy frequent flyers, our goal is to get as much value out of our miles as possible. That doesn’t mean we’re bottom feeders who always just book the cheapest tickets, though. Many of us spend a lot of money on Delta—whether it’s buying business class seats, last-minute fares, or full fares so that we can upgrade—but if this change were to go into effect, it would effectively put out of reach awards that I and many of you enjoy like international and business class awards.

My personal stance is that if Delta, whose SkyMiles program already gets widely slammed for low-value redemptions, makes it even more expensive to redeem for the awards I want, then I will switch programs in a heartbeat, and I suspect many in the frequent flyer community will do the same. This coming from one of the few defenders of the program and a Platinum (and recent former Diamond) Medallion. There are a lot of great things about Delta as an airline – I love the in-flight WiFi, clean planes and people – but I will personally vote with my wallet if they devalue SkyMiles even further.

A lot is still up in the air, if you’ll pardon the pun, so I’m not panicking yet, but what is your opinion?

Would you still fly Delta if they moved to a fixed-value mileage program?

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  • LarryInNYC

    Obviously, a change like this would remove all the leverage that we use to get high-value seats for free without being truly high-value customers to the airline. For that reason, from our point of view, it would be terrible. However, it’s hard to see the airlines (any of them) continuing the recent you-can-travel-for-free bonanza. I don’t think, at the outset of frequent flier programs, that the airlines ever imagined the current situation (I’ll be taking my family to Asia this summer on AA frequent flier miles for tickets listing at $8,200 while having spent perhaps $1,000 with AA in recent years).

    By aligning mileage earning and redemption to their revenue needs they’re essentially returning their programs to what they were originally designed for. In five years, I expect the frequent miler marketplace across all airlines to look more like Southwest than like AAdvantage. That’s true whether this rumored Delta change happens when scheduled or not.

    Sad, but true.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DOSMLVBEX57DGGWCNG3XKNQBCQ Cody

    While I will be very disappointed with the changes and not being able to use Delta for their current high value awards, I am sure there will still be some degree of use for them. The same way the doomsdayers in the BA camp thought the world ended with the change to Avios, there are still very high value redemptions within the program.

  • James

    As someone who has put all his eggs in the skymiles basket, this is terrifying

  • PJ

    Southwest and Virgin American are superb for frugal travellers who are just as happy as 1st class elite class when plane making the touch down ; if Delta can come out with the silimar to wanna go away fares as Southwest that would be coool 50K for $800+ worth of wanna get away flights cool cool

  • Mitch

    The WN and VX programs work reasonably well because they don’t have any long-haul international destinations. How on earth do you redeem for an international flight to a far-flung destination (even in economy) on a revenue-based system?

    The thing that makes me wonder how this would all work is the alliance factor. DL can obviously get the price for a revenue ticket on Korean Air and convert that into however many points they want for it. However, what on earth do they do when a KE/AF/KL/AZ/OK/RO/KQ/CZ/MU/CI/VN/UX member wants a seat on a DL flight?

  • Matt C

    Doesn’t SW already do this?

  • http://pkguild.com Christopher Kusek

    I literally just started flying Delta, no sooner than two weeks ago I took my first delta flight ever.
    (Flights to SLC/etc encouraged it) and I was ‘graced’ with a status match from my 1K to a Platinum.

    In 2 weeks I’m nearly done with my status match of 26k miles to keep Plat for the year, but this has me greatly concerned. I was considering being a two-vendor flyer based upon value prop and opportunity but I fear I may then need to find *another* vendor to use for my ~250-500k of travel a year.

    Quite upsetting if this is true!

  • http://pkguild.com Christopher Kusek

    I literally just started flying Delta, no sooner than two weeks ago I took my first delta flight ever.
    (Flights to SLC/etc encouraged it) and I was ‘graced’ with a status match from my 1K to a Platinum.

    In 2 weeks I’m nearly done with my status match of 26k miles to keep Plat for the year, but this has me greatly concerned. I was considering being a two-vendor flyer based upon value prop and opportunity but I fear I may then need to find *another* vendor to use for my ~250-500k of travel a year.

    Quite upsetting if this is true!

  • http://twitter.com/skyvan Fielding

    As someone with a choice there is no doubt Delta would go from preferred to “only as a last resort’. Sure the employees are amazing and make travel nice but I am going out of my way at this point to fly them. Sometimes I’ve flown south to go North, or even west to go east. I don’t always buy the high fare B or M fares, but I definitely buy those sometimes, though I’m usually a T/Q flyer. I must be naive to think they care about my once or twice a year international travel. That travel is always in a premium class of service but can easily be changed to another, most likely much more convenient, airline. My family goes as I go, and with family members who fly to Europe multiple times a year and constantly across the country and often at the last minute, I’ve estimated we spend 30-40k on Delta a year, while maintaining status as two platinums and one gold.

    If this RBMA system were to go in to effect a significant portion of travel would change hands and Delta would be down to under 3k a year of our family’s travel expenses.

    Don’t destroy what I believe is the most loyalty rewarding program in the United States, no more drastic changes.

  • http://twitter.com/skyvan Fielding

    As someone with a choice there is no doubt Delta would go from preferred to “only as a last resort’. Sure the employees are amazing and make travel nice but I am going out of my way at this point to fly them. Sometimes I’ve flown south to go North, or even west to go east. I don’t always buy the high fare B or M fares, but I definitely buy those sometimes, though I’m usually a T/Q flyer. I must be naive to think they care about my once or twice a year international travel. That travel is always in a premium class of service but can easily be changed to another, most likely much more convenient, airline. My family goes as I go, and with family members who fly to Europe multiple times a year and constantly across the country and often at the last minute, I’ve estimated we spend 30-40k on Delta a year, while maintaining status as two platinums and one gold.

    If this RBMA system were to go in to effect a significant portion of travel would change hands and Delta would be down to under 3k a year of our family’s travel expenses.

    Don’t destroy what I believe is the most loyalty rewarding program in the United States, no more drastic changes.

  • http://daindian.blogspot.com/ BostonFlyer

    I much rather they enhance the earning of members who spend more money then to take away for people who make the bulk of the plane. But given I no longer have elite status with any airline I no longer care and go with best time/fare combo.

  • http://daindian.blogspot.com/ BostonFlyer

    I much rather they enhance the earning of members who spend more money then to take away for people who make the bulk of the plane. But given I no longer have elite status with any airline I no longer care and go with best time/fare combo.

  • Rob

    I wonder how the rest of the Sky Team is going to handle awards? This may get messy… I don’t like it, and those who compare it to the Avios changes are probably redeeming their Avios points in AAdvantage – which is a none-fixed program. I’ve been a defender of SkyMiles, but if this change happens, I’ll go hat in hand back to United.

  • Flyer Fun

    I think the airlines are playing with fire mucking around with their loyalty program.

    Personally, I fly for leisure. I fly Continental (I mean United) primarily due to the Frequent Flyer program. If the airlines reduce the value proposition enough, I would make the following changes to my behavior:

    (1) Fly Asian Airlines to Asia. It is a better experience. Stewardesses are prettier. Food is better. They are cleaner. Service is better.
    (2) Domestically fly Jet Blue or Virgin America whenever possible instead of United because they are nicer.
    (3) Stop doing 20K a year in mileage runs. (Unfortunately, I have to fit my runs into my vacation, so I do not get the cheap ones.)
    (4) Use up my stranded FF points as fast as possible. (If everyone did this, it would create liquidity problems).
    (5) Get rid of my airline points cards. After all, I have them to get points.
    (6) Stop buying electricity from a points provider.
    (7) Stop spending money in the points shopping malls.
    (8) Stop buying points. I have purchased US air points, United points (when they were offered cheap), Continental points (when they were offered cheap), and elite maximizer points. (Let’s face it, when you need cash, having customers to buy points is great.)

    I would do none of these things out of spite. I would be changing my behavior to maximize my comfort. What the hell, I am not a charity.

    What do they say about killing the goose the laid the golden eggs. Well, shaving off some of the feathers make the goose less happy, and she lays fewer golden eggs. In a low margin proposition like the airline business, that could be the difference between profit and another bankruptcy.

  • SeaBee3

    So what would happen to those of us with large amounts of Skymiles? How would they be converted if the new redemption program is based on revenue-based points? To make such a huge change while spending the last couple of years showering Skymiles sounds like it would make it a longer transition – like 3 years – to get those miles off the books and not have to convert to points (which again, would mean a huge technical challenge).

  • Danny

    Listen closely…can you hear it? That’s the sound of Membership Rewards points becoming even more useless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skidder Scott Kidder

    More evidence: http://www.maxhire.net/cp/(X(1)A(bh1SqjM9zQEkAAAANTQxY2IzMGEtMmYwMS00Y2MxLWI1NTgtZDczMTFhMDllN2QzdpQx2kc9L7VeEzdLxj0apx_g73w1)S(c1xoi545d4wrvj45s504mt45))/searchresults.aspx?jobpreviewkey=586F361D43515B795612653A511B6A482A7A&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

    This req is for a Senior Business analysts for the Fare Based Award Ticket Redemption (FBATR) project, which is part of the Evolution of SkyMiles (EOS) Program being driven out of Loyalty. This project changes how the customer redeems miles and improves the customer shopping experience. This project takes a phased iterative approach to achieving the project’s objectives and is divided into multiple releases. The initial implementation is currently scheduled for September of 2012. The candidate will be expected to attend project meetings and working sessions, and to write requirements documentation from a Revenue Accounting perspective. Candidate will also work with the developers, testers and Revenue Accounting business teams to ensure they understand the requirements, analysis and design documentation, and to assist the testers and business users in developing test cases that satisfy the business/technical requirements.

  • Mark

    There’s probably something to this – - It’s not the first time I am hearing it. A friend who has a friend that works for Delta told me that it is coming.

    If they go this route, I’m sure they will lose some valuable customers (like me). I’m finally a Diamond with Delta this year and have been enjoying it. However, I’ve already been considering a jump to American or United since I first heard about the changes. Living in New York gives me choices. I’ll wait to hear the details about the changes to their program to see just how it will impact me. But I usually, I book far enough in advance to get the lower fares, so I’m not sure how this change could be positive for me.

    Big changes like this may cause Delta some real consequences in the short -term; but if it works, unfortunately the other major airlines may just follow their lead.

  • Nyc_dl

    seems logical. there are too many obvious disconnects in the current system. LGA to BOS or DCA on DL shuttle is $440 o/w, but nets just 500 miles, but you can book a cheap JFK to LAX or SFO and gain 5,000+ miles just just $300 r/t.

  • Raj B

    Sucks for us here in the ATL. Have over 500k SkyMiles between me and the wife, and can never find the 120k business redemptions we want for trips to India/Asia this year.

  • JMSL

    The main takeaway for me is the extent to which this would devalue the Membership Rewards program. I can already use Pay With Points, so the ability to transfer to Delta would become worthless.

  • Gene

    My partner and I are both Diamonds, and we spend about $15,000 per year on Delta. We aren’t exactly High Value Customers, but we certainly aren’t bottom feeders either.

    Effective immediately, we are spending zero on Delta. It is time to burn our 3 million miles while they still have some value. I wish we had cashed them all in for AMEX gift cards back when that was an option.

  • Iheartpoints

    I know this will sound very vague, but I have a friend who works at Delta in revenue management and told me they were going to move this direction back in early December. I haven’t talked to him since about it, but I honestly believe it is happening.

  • Dan

    “Rumors” like these don’t get started without some reasonable credibility, that’s for sure. I haven’t flown DL since they acquired NW, and probably won’t. My biggest concern is the trickle down effect — I’ve been accumulating miles faster than I can burn them :(

  • http://brianherbert.com brianherbert

    No, no, no, no, no! As a VERY loyal Delta Diamond, I would be switching to a Star Alliance carrier in a heart beat. I live in Korea and get a lot of value out of flying international routes to Europe and the US which are already more expensive than similar Star Alliance flights. Of course I would make the switch!

  • PJ

    United miles still work charmingly for last class flyer

  • Nick E

    When Southwest converted to RR 2.0, they did something similar. If you had award tickets in your account as of March 1, 2011 (roll-out date of RR 2.0), you could still use those for award tickets following the old system (16 credits = 1 r/t award flight regardless of price or destination but capacity-controlled). They were even bookable on Southwest.com. If you had any residual credits, you could earn the equivalent in the new program (I think it was 1200 new points = 1 old credit) and transfer those back into the old system for another old award.

    I had 8.5 credits left, so I earned 4500 points, transferred them into 7.5 credits, and wound up with another old award. I’m pretty sure those had an expiration date of a year from the date of issue (as they did in the old program), so I’m guessing they are about done with those by now.

    Here’s the problem with DL moving in this direction: SkyMiles currently have no expiration. With Southwest, their old credits and awards expired a year after being earned, so when they rolled over to RR 2.0, they didn’t need to make any substantial changes the old award redemption rules. That’s not the case for DL. They have two options:

    1) Honor existing mileage balances for award tickets under the old rules (highly unlikely, since that would theoretically continue for years to come)
    2) Convert everyone’s miles into the new currency (much more likely)

    Any way you slice it, not good for consumers and miserably complicated to implement…

  • milevalue

    This would be mixed news for points enthusiasts. It would mean the end of buying Delta fares for me. Instead, I would accrue miles through cards and other promotions. Then with those SkyMiles, I would book very cheap fares, not in absolute terms, but in relative terms for what you’re getting. So a $200 transcon, a $600 west coast to Europe, $300 LAX-HNL. And on cheap fares, the miles necessary would be a pittance. (Note: this is the current best strategy with Southwest miles.) This would replace the current best strategy of buying the cheap fares and using miles for expensive fares. But there would still be more programs with the latter strategy (United, American, US) than the former, and I happen to think that a diversity of programs actually helps frequent fliers more than if all programs have the same rules. I’m in the minority, but I definitely think Avios changes are good for fliers because it increased the diversity of programs. Therefore, this is mixed news, and it depends on the specifics.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4LL245EJWKG362YXFBFL6FHNHM The Shiz Niz

    If they switch over to revenue based miles, they will be competing with Virgin America – a FAR superior product. (as well as JetBlue) Can they really be this stupid? I’m an annual gold medallion who mostly flies JFK-LAX and the only reason Delta gets my loyalty over JetBlue and Virgin is BECAUSE of their current system. If Delta goes to revenue based, two things will happen.

    1.) Customers who can (who live in places like NYC where I do) will switch to another airline for loyalty – like I will to United – without hesitation.

    2.) Customers who don’t will pick the best product – NOT DELTA (or any of the other main legacy carriers)

  • Flyer Fun

    Thanks for the reply. For now, United FF redemption works ok.

    If Delta does this, my gut is that other airlines (including United) will follow.

  • bubb

    Wow, I barely have words for how boneheaded this is. Guess DL wants to fly around a few “high value flyers” in CRJs as everybody else flocks to airlines that don’t screw around with the fundamental bargain that has been around for decades. Without a traditional mileage program, why be *loyal* to a legacy at all? For high volume routes you don’t have a chance to compete against LCCs!

  • Jason

    I think the changes to redemption are a lot bigger and costly to them in terms of customer loyalty. Fare based redemption throws them into the same pot as Amex and Chase pay with points doesn’t it? Why would anyone transfer to skymiles when they could fly any carrier with AXMR or UR? Is a fixed cost per mile what the redemption system would look like or am I totally wrong?

  • Zzzzmd

    This whole thing reeks
    Bad enough Amex went from continental to this, which I consider a downgrade of value, to now even more of a downgrade in value, before you know it, I may give up Amex after 30 years and spending over a 100k a year on it! My favotite, starwoods is also shafting us, my favorite South beach W went from 20k to 30 k a night, and the w new york from 12- 20k, along with several W’s going up on the nightly rate in points. They really are dumping on us!

  • arcticbull

    Fly Korean :D they were awesome! It’s going to be super hard to book (call in for availability and blackout dates) but they open up tons of award space in Business (O), and it all books into low, and they fly out of ATL.

    In your case over the Atlantic is probably faster (but not much) and AF/KL space is usually pretty open too, but consider KE!

  • Yelnak

    This 1MM/Diamond – flying out of ATL – had few alternatives to DL. Now, with Southwest’s acquisition of Airtran, the new international terminal opening in May, not to mention the damage this will cause in hinting at a change, one has to ask, What is the “better” in “Building a better airline”? Is Richard Anderson going to allow morphing into Leo Mullins 2.0 type of thinking?

  • SBrown

    This will create a problem for AMEX too. Both my wife and I have Delta Reserve cards and spend about $135,000 per year on AMEX in addition to the $450 fee we pay to AMEX for each card. Given that most of the spend is reimbursible business expenses, it has made sense to eat the fees and use these cards. Make the skymiles program substantially less valuable and I will stop showing any loyalty to Delta; indeed, I can often save money by taking SW/Airtran but have stuck with Delta to keep accruing the skymiles. Moreover, I also will drop both of these cards and stop shopping for other rewards accross different cards, which are not likely to be AMEX. I doubt I’m alone in this. Delta should tread carefully.

  • Ozaer N.

    Brian..im confused….what does this mean for people who just collect miles to redeem for FREE first/business class flights on DL…..like me. Does this mean it will be like BA’s Avios program?

  • Jason

    This sucks! I doubled-down on Skymiles banking 100K miles just in 2012 thus far. Going to this new model kills me. I can kiss all my benefits goodbye. I’m taking a long, hard look at other programs and preparing to make a drastic switch – including re-booking a couple international business class trips I had planned for the summer. No point in racking up more useless Delta miles.

  • Greg

    I think that the real danger here is that Delta’s action creates a first-mover effect amongst the other legacy carriers to switch their loyalty programs from being mileage to revenue based. Given the legacy carriers’ reccurent financial problems a big (downward) move like this from Delta could easily push the others to follow suit.

  • Jimjam

    If Delta made that big change to Skymiles, I wouldn’t necessarily stop flying Delta, I’d just find a new Skyteam program to credit to. Isn’t that the easiest shift for everyone to make?
    I’d appreciate if the blogger could put in the time to examine all the program options in Skyteam, and tell us which ones he thinks are best to replace Delta Skymiles as your program of choice? I personally think any Skyteam program that has a set expiration date for miles should rank low, because for most of us that type of race-against-the-clock proposition is worthless.

  • whendoublewidesfly

    If Delta makes this change I’m packing up and moving to United or American!

  • Mpohl

    Delta, my hometown airline, has stopped carrying about its customers long ago!

    Like 5-10 years ago! Now, it’s the archetypical American corporate behemoth: self-centered, bottom-line, raking in millions for its executives by shafting its customers and employees.

    I could still slam myself silly for signing a petition, “Keep Delta, my Delta!,” when it was under threat of being taken over by US Airways.

    My Delta vanished a long time ago. And flying out of Atlanta, I still prefer AA or US Airways!

  • Hayes7

    I live in Barcelona and work in Moscow. I fly to the USA at least 2X a year with my family (3 kids) with upgradable coach tickets… Thus, between Aeroflot and Delta, I rack up a lot of miles every year. I’m a multi million miler and have been a Diamond since it came out last year and will probably stay there for quite a few years.
    Delta kinda screwed me when they changed from FF miles to Sky Miles some years back. I was tricked into using my “never expire” miles instead of my skymiles… Fool me once… fool me twice?? Aeroflot, here I come… or the many offers I get every single month.

  • Weedywet

    I just flew Delta from JFK to Narita – ancient plane, no wifi, grungy, harried staff, no electricity working at ALL in my row (and several others) as in, no lights, audio , nothing.

    Then I flew Narita to Manila. Guess what? AGAIN, my seat power is dead.

    Flew home from Manila, via Narita to JFK… this time the audio works intermittantly but at least works. But the plane is still an old and grungy 747.

    Add to this that they charged $210 for an upgrade to an “economy plus” seat that was virtually no better than a regular coach seat; and far worse than a standard coach seat on JAL; and that it was impossible to use mileage to upgrade unless I had a full fare ticket.

    there is NOTHING good about Delta.
    that’s WHY you’re “one of the few defenders”

  • PJ

    Speaking of the devils: How do you like to buy Skymiles with 75 % bonus ?

  • thepointsguy

    Nope.. transfer at 100% was much better

  • thepointsguy

    I see your points- for international coach travelers who want to upgrade, Delta is a horrible choice. Much better options with United/AA for going from coach to business class.

  • thepointsguy

    Unfortunately there aren’t any knights in shining armor when it comes to other Skyteam programs. I”m going to research Korean (since they are a Chase transfer partner), but it won’t do much good if you want domestic upgrades on Delta.

  • thepointsguy

    No- Avios is not a fixed value program- you can still get tremendous value out of Avios.

    It would be like them saying all of your Skymiles are worth a penny eahc towards travel. So no longer can you use 100,000 miles for business class to Europe- you’d get $1,000 towards flights, which might not even get you coach.

    I’m not saying thats what the valuations will be, but it’ll be something like that if they do move to a fixed value program (and the skeptic in me thinks the valuations won’t be great).

  • thepointsguy

    I’m sure American Express, who has a huge stake in Delta Skymiles, will want to make sure the changes don’t negatively affect their cardholders. This may be one of the big reasons why these allegeded changes don’t happen.

  • thepointsguy

    Miles and points devalue over time, so you gotta use em while you can!

  • thepointsguy

    You are correct. For us savvy frequent travelers, there’d be very little reason to accrue Skymiles when we could use Amex/Chase/Citi for up to 1.33 cents a point AND earn miles on those flights.

  • thepointsguy

    Right.. but if Delta goes down this road, who is to say that American and United won’t? What do we do for high value redemptions then?

  • Mhop1027

    I learned a long time ago to go against the masses. I hope this means more upgrade availability when everyone “leaves” Delta.

  • thepointsguy

    My thoughts too… I hope Amex adds more partners (I’d love to see Alaska/US Airways/ American) and continues running bonuses.

  • thepointsguy

    Southwest does, but they’ve never had high value awards since they aren’t a part of an alliance and don’t fly internationally. When they moved to RR 2.0 it was a change, but nothing drastic (and even better for those who redeem for Wanna Get Away fares).

    If Delta did this and stripped the value from international and premium cabin awards, I think it would get very messy, very quickly.

  • nd.mp

    Hrm, interesting. The incentive to switch over to something like VQ or WN or B6 for domestic travel (assuming other legacy carriers match) is clearly something that whomever planned this has not considered; and there’s all the more incentive to plan international travel exclusively on non-US airlines.

    @SBrown @Danny @FlyerFun:

    You all bring up a really excellent point with regards to the effect on Amex (and, associated effects on Chase, etc. if this were to become the norm among legacy carriers).

    The further devaluation of MR (especially with the onslaught of Chase’s UR) would be devastating to Amex. My knowledge of Delta’s bankruptcy restructuring in the 2000s is limited, but the capital that Amex provided in order to avoid a merger was substantial. I wonder if Amex would have any sway over such adverse changes?

    I’m glad I credit all my limited DL flying to AS, at least for now.

  • thepointsguy

    Diversify! These types of changes will always happen- it’s just a matter of preparing yourself for the inevitable

  • thepointsguy

    The point is that the airlines are making TONS of money on their frequent flyer programs by selling billions in miles to credit card companies, online shopping portals, dining programs and whoever else has cash.

    The high value awards don’t actually cost them the $10,000 or whatever the value is- especially since many of those seats would have gone out empty.

    I don’t think the current system is draining them of all their resources- Delta turned a nice profit in 2011- thanks in part to their huge partnership with American Express.

  • Dave

    Been platinum for 5 years now, (I commute from NY to LA) but with this model I’d be gone in a heartbeat.
    Time to start spending miles…

  • milevalue

    If they all go down the fixed-value road, then coach awards will be the only game in town. But then how will airlines fill premium international cabins? They’ll want to fill them somehow, and we’ll figure out the cheapest way in under the new rules.

    I think you’re right that AMEX is the only party that could keep Delta from doing this. What’s to stop UA, US, and AA from following suit? Their credit card partners, flyers abandoning Delta over these changes (unlikely), or the fact that as fewer airlines have region based award charts, being one of those few goes up in value.

  • M&M

    Well I guess I should start burning my miles now. No sense in holding on to them at this point.

  • Guest

    Points Guy,

    If you were switching from Delta to US Air or American (I value the saver awards to Europe on both these airlines), which would you choose? I have lounge access via Amex Platinum with both, and while I prefer the more flexible scheduling that American offers, US Air seems to offer more bang for its buck.

    Pound for pound, which airline do you like more overall? Coach is fine for me, I’m all about value and flexibility to make changes to itineraries last minute (though an occasional upgrade is nice).

    FYI, I have Delta Gold Elite and am thinking about doing a challenge or match with another airline if this is true, as reported. Thanks for your input!

  • David

    Brian — does this mean that the NOV miles run I have booked from EWR-MSP-SIN will not earn me the 20,000 miles I had been promised????

  • thepointsguy

    We have no official details yet, so I can’t say either way. I wouldn’t panic now, but I’d be on the lookout for future communications regarding any changes to the SKymiles program.

  • thepointsguy

    I’d probably recommend US Airways if you value mid tier elite status (you’d get upgrades on US whereas you wouldn’t really on American), plus US is a part of Star Alliance which has more redemption options than AA.

    AA is good for a lot of things, but they are going through bankruptcy and there are a lot of changes to come- heck theres even rumors that US is buying them!

    AA allows one way awards and has the 40k to Europe vs US charging the same amount for one-way as roundtrip. They all have pluses and minuses, but I’d probably go with US.

  • Neumanns

    As Dir of Business Development for a Fortune 500 and a platinum flyer on DL, I already catch flak from my guys that fly out of ORD and DFW that I insist we use DL especially on our international travel. I live in ATL and feel some loyalty, but this would definitely change that. One of the only perks my guys get out of travel is the mileage and points earned. If this is devalued even more…? We only have 30 guys that travel and most are Platinum or Diamond, but we have negotiated rates. This would

  • Scobro99

    I have 100,000 + MR points I was waiting for Delta bonus to come around to book a US to Europe trip…is it premature to think about converting MR points to SPG..and then possibly converting them to US AIR with the current promo ? I need help please..thanks

  • Guest

    Thanks for the advice!!!

  • Ozaer N.

    So Brian, We need your expert advice on what to do with these MR pts that us card churners -non Delta elites/flyers have now from the multiple 75K offers they were throwing at us….do we dump them into BA? Korean? I think we all that have these want to redeem them for executive class flights.

  • thepointsguy

    I wouldn’t panic. I’d consider the BA 50% bonus if you want non-stop, short/medium/long flights to everywhere but Europe and Australia.

    Aeroplan is good for Star Alliance- maybe doing the Starwood-US Airways at near 1:1 might make sense.

    Even if Delta does decide to go this route, it won’t happen overnight. However, I wouldn’t recommend stocking up hordes of Skymiles if you want to redeem for international business class tickets for years to come, because my gut is that those redemptions will be the first to be devalued.

  • thepointsguy

    Well it depends. You may just want to do 90,000 Amex to Aeroplan depending on where you are going in Europe and what carriers have availability.

    You have until March 31, 2012 to decide if you want to do the SPG-US transfer.. I doub’t a Delta transfer bonus will come before then so you really just need to do a little research and see whether Star Alliance or Skyteam is best for the places you want to go.

  • Dsamso

    With all due respect. Delta is by far and as it is the worst mileage program. As an airline they are notoriously bad in their service and it is almost impossible to get tickets at the lowest mileage level. I struggled to use my miles with them. Furthermore, their business class is probably the worst of all US airlines at least in their domestic routes. So here is my question to you (pointsguy) and it is an honest question: why would i ever want to have skymiles even under the current program? Thank you and keep up the good work

  • Scobro99

    thanks..one quick question..I’m trying to go to Paris and where I live I do have access to US Air, Delta, and United….as a general rule are the miles you need about the same for all three or would there be a benefit to looking at one airline over the other two. I know there are a number of factors that affect amount of miles needed but just asking in general terms. Thanks and thank you for your great blog. I read it every day

  • Dave

    I think there was also a rumor that the new UA would go to a revenue-based frequent flyer program. It didn’t happen, and I suspect (hope?) the same will be true for DL.

  • HMBWendy

    Oh Delta…Say it isn’t so!
    I moved nearly 350,000 Amex points to Delta last year SPECIFICALLY because of the way they structured their mileage rewards and bonuses. My husband added a Delta Amex earlier this year so that we could continue to heap on the Skymiles. I sing Delta’s praises every chance I get, especially lately, given the fact that my status gets me the upgrade 9 out of 10 times…even on the infamous SFO-JFK Biz Elite run. (Not a bad success rate for someone who’s still only a lowly Gold Med)! I frequently pay for the 1st class seats when they aren’t too horribly overpriced and I book our entire family exclusively on Delta whenever we fly, even when their competition offers a direct when DL doesn’t and even when DL is the more expensive option. I fly a pretty good bit every month and I have to say Delta takes care of me.

    IF, however, they make an unthinkable move like this, they will find me hightailing it to another airline faster than you can say BAIT AND SWITCH! For Delta to even contemplate this is to essentially “penalize my loyalty” when I actually take advantage of the offers they send my way every week. An inbox full of “vacation deals” and “web fares” means nothing to me if I know that they will be pinching pennies should I decide to pony up and grab one…or several! Having the miles I fly “nickel and dimed” because I found a great deal through their own company website is exactly why I don’t give my money to any of the other airlines that have gone down that road. DON’T DO IT DELTA…I’M BEGGING YOU.

  • LarryInNYC

    <>

    Which is why I think we’re seeing another trend, the development of reasonably-priced semi-premium services. Ideally, wouldn’t the airlines would rather provision the exact number of $10,000 seats they can sell (6? 4? 8?) and then use the rest of the space for $2,000 or $2,500 seats they can also sell? Every $10,000 seat that they let go for $2,000 “worth” of miles or $2,500 seat that goes for $1,500 is a failure for them.

    “Right pricing” their seats for maximum saleability while bringing redemptions in line with the sale price of the seat and only allowing accrual out of above-the-profitable-ticket-price margins is where I think we’re already seeing the airlines going.

    As for credit cards, assuming that the price the credit card company pays for the miles more-or-less lines up with the revenue against which they miles are redeemed, I don’t see why credit card miles would disappear. Since the card companies are probably paying $.02 for the miles and we’re expecting to get $.05 or so for the redemptions, I think the value proposition has to shift a bit.

  • http://www.stevethornton.com/ Steve

    I would be truly disappointed to find out that this was the case. I have gone out of my way to use Delta only even though it cost me more money.

  • http://www.stevethornton.com/ Steve

    Don’t forget that this is, at this point, a rumor. So I would not over react.

  • Jon

    Delta has always been my airline of choice since they merged with Northwest but now that I don’t live in a Delta hub city I would never fly Delta if I didn’t have to.

  • PJ

    When you move 350K MRs to Skymiles, did you get the transfer bonus ? These days, I am looking to book IAD-LAS r/t over the coming memorial weekend Delta did make me regret on my nonaction when the 50% bonus transfers were on. In other words, a ‘frugal’ traveller is better rewarded if he/she always DIVERSIFies miles holdings. For the said trip, it takes 50K to fly United nonstop (about $700 cash buy) versus 40K ( about 27K MRs with 50% bonus) to fly on Delta with no bad at all connections.

    I do sympathize with those readers who use Skymiles to book non economy Delta flights

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  • Bob W

    I just switched a Beijing bound Business Class Paid ticket to United from Delta, I was thinking about it anyway, but the Flyertalk thread pushed me over the edge…wife and I are both Diamonds who spend big bucks and enough is enough. Last year I had 11 paid business class trips to Asia…this year it will be none.

    This is why I hate to see you take freebies from Delta, they basically use you to push product and your readers in the end get the shaft.

  • Andy

    I fly delta mainly internationally, where the dollar to miles ratio is always low. This change would immediately make the Skymiles program unusable to me. I would fly a different domestic carrier and pick an international program for overseas flights.

  • Carl

    I think there are several significant downsided to moving towards a revenue-based mileage program. Here are the most significant ones, in my opinion.

    1. The more clearly the reward is based on ticket price and the reward has a clearly defined monetary value, the easier it is a for a company to negotiate a new net fare with the airline with removes the reward completely, and thereby eviscerates the loyalty program for that company’s travelers.

    2. The more clearly there is a defined monetary value, the easier it is for the IRS to begin taxing the award value.

    3. One of the beauties of the reward programs is that the linkage is a little vague and undefined, make the award more mysterious and appealing. It allows for aspirational awards, like first or business class travel, which may otherwise be financially out of reach. It allows for us all to value the awards at that inflated basis, even though many of us will in fact redeem them for something less valuable, so we perceive high value while the airline’s cost is low.

    4. If managed properly, the airline distributed inventory which it otherwise couldn’t sell, or could only sell in the low revenue fare buckets, so the airline is using low-value inventory to fulfill awards. It also allows the airline to effectively discount unsold inventory without affecting the integrity of their published fares and advance booking deadlines.

    5. Finally, if some fares are high for last minute travel, do they really need to give that traveler an increased reward vs. someone who booked earlier? The last minute traveler may actually have fewer options and be required to traveled, vs. the person who booked earlier who had more discretion and more choices. Just because the last minute traveler generated more revenue, doesn’t mean a larger loyalty reward would shift more beusiness or revenue, and the rewards should really be based on the incremental revenue, not baseline revenue.

  • thepointsguy

    Do you honestly think delta wanted me to write this post?

  • David

    I have no idea if I am a representative example, but I wholeheartedly agree with the comments above. I am a work-at-home leisure traveler, and I take many unplanned trips without reason. Because I can take my work on the road, I jump on fare deals, miles runs, and otherwise fill airline inventory that would be unused. I book well in advance to plan for the best value, and I gravitate toward deals. I guess it is all sort of a game and a hobby — but I just earned lowly Delta Silver and have been plotting my move to Gold this year. I am DEFINITELY leaving for one of the star alliance carriers United/US if they pull this on me. Delta is proposing a total waste of my time spent on coach class miles runs…..

    AND I already have a 20+ hour Singapore run booked for November. If they change to a revenue-based system between now and then, I want a refund on my ticket.

  • Bob W

    Of course not, I just hate to see Delta product promoted by a guy named “thepointsguy” when they are the absloute worse when it comes to redemtion availability and then they have the nerve to do or even think of something as draconian as this…to me it’s a credibility issue

  • Sean

    Friends, AmEx bailed out Delta buying billions of SkyMiles. Delta can make small moves to devalue those miles (the three tiered award chart comes to mind) but not entirely change the system. They have obligations to honor.

    I believe the redeemable miles system will remain unchanged, or minimally changed something like 50% base miles on LUT&E fares.

    The revenue based points system, if it is true, will likely only be for elite status earning, currently called MQM. It stinks for me because my corporate travel is only 30-40k per year, and I’ve made Platinum for years by flying T fares to New York from the west coast.

    Will they devalue our SkyMiles? Probably a little, but not as drastically as some predict here and other blogs. If you’re really worried, burn your miles bank and book your award travel for the winter holidays now. I’m sitting on over 300k SkyMiles right now, and I’m not too worried.

    Delta is the best legacy carrier, by far. I’ve been a Medallion for 11 years and seen a lot of changes, some for the worse and some for the better. The only thing constant in this game is change. I, for one, am eager to hear the details but certainly not fretting over rumors.

    Thanks, Sean

  • arcticbull

    I hope they’re more helpful than they were with the whole Air Canada YQ debacle :P After all AC is their equivalent partner in Canada…

  • arcticbull

    I think you’re not being very fair. Each program has it’s pros and cons, and each and every one will be devalued over time. The best strategy is to diversify your points portfolio over the 3 alliances and the domestic programs, and that includes Delta. It has always been possible to get great value out of the Delta award chart, if you used it right. It was just *hard*. And until something changes that remains true.

    Remember airline point currencies have one of the highest inflation rates this side of Zimbabwe. Earn and burn.

  • Mitch

    The AmEx factor may not be as big as some of us would hope. They could offer AmEx a great deal in converting the remaining SkyMiles they have into SkyPoints (or whatever the new currency is called) and then AmEx can dole them out under the new scheme. It is quite possible that Fare-Based Award Ticket Redemption will be favorable for people who like to book US48/Caribbean leisure travel, so the card pushers in the airports can continue their spiels. The bigger problem will probably be if those in the Membership Rewards program feel it’s a severe enough devaluation (as if losing CO and AC fuel surcharges weren’t enough) that they move away from AmEx cards. Of course, there are tons of people willing to waste a gazillion MR points on an iPad instead of international premium cabin redemptions, so even devaluation of MR might not make the difference to AmEx’s bottom line we hope.

  • James

    Wahhhhhh!

  • James

    Geez it’s like you based an entire perspective off one roundtrip. Couldn’t I easily have said:

    I just flew Delta from Atlanta to London. Nice new plane, friendly staff, working powerports.

    Then I flew Dublin to Atlanta. Great IFE, working powerpoint, gluten-free meal for the wife.

    Then I flew Atlanta to Baltimore. Nice newly-remodeled MD-88 with wifi and I got an upgrade.

    There is EVERYTHING good about Delta.

    ….now is my comment any more useful than yours?

  • HMBWendy

    Hi PJ. To answer your question about the bonus…YES! I actually transferred points to my Skymiles acct, my husband’s and our son’s. With the additional status bump DL offered just a month or so later, it made it more than worth it to us! I have hardly used any of these miles as I love to take advantage of great fare deals when they pop up in order to pull in loads more miles on the cheap. My main tool in achieving this is utilizing the free same day flight change benefit that we get, so as long as there’s add’l avail on other flights, I’m flexible most of the time. I’ve reaped over 20k skymiles for a coast to coast RT that cost me less than $250…just thru creative itinerary planning at the last minute and being willing to add some connections. (Last one was FLL-LGA-ATL-SFO). My Amex Plat got me in the lounges if I had any wait time so it was no biggee. It also allowed me to nearly guarantee first class upgrades on all segments where my originally booked flights had little or no avail upgrades. I’m still learning but TPG has been a great mentor in that dept! I have done this on award tix as well w/ 100% success so search out the lowest mileage award tix then switch if you can. Good luck PJ!

  • Kathy K

    this would be horrific on so many levels. Lets hope Delta is monitering the feedback, and decides not to go down this road.

  • Chris

    This would be the end of me flying DL nearly exclusively for the past 5 years – though being somewhat a hub captive in CVG (the term hub being used loosely here…) I haven’t had lots of choices. Bye, bye DL Plat AMEX and hello to Chase and UR for points most likely for me as well as a status match likely to AS where I can accrue DL, AA, etc. as well as AF/KL/LAN/CX, etc. Luckily I have diversified somewhat with several hundred K of US (thanks to the GS and the Barclays card) and working on building up United now.

  • Hayes7

    Or Iberia…

  • Hayes7

    I thought I should add that if you are a Delta high level FF and have personal relationships with the people at a local office that has developed over the years (20 years in my case) it certainly helps. It does however scare me that Delta would change the rules of the game at this stage (I have over a million miles and was planning a round the world trip in business on miles)… This sight is great and I hope that Delta reads it! Thanks

  • Simek

    And what if the other airlines all follow suit? What then for casual points collectors?
    As an example, Miles & More is going through (unpopular) changes as well.

  • Orion2185

    Is there anything we can do to try and stop them from doing this?
    What if we got together and made a online petition- forming a drastic stance against them.
    Do you think Delta would change their plans…if enough of us spoke out against this…and stating we will drop delta and move to another loyalty brand?

  • dwg1

    If the other carriers don’t follow suit (which I am sure Delta would like) — consumers will go to getting the best value — and away from Delta.

  • DrDavidSkoletta

    TPG, I’ve complained about some of your posts recently focusing too much on CC’s, but this post is great and much appreciated. By you calling attention to this hopefully Delta will realize they are going to make a bad decision.

    Keep up the good work, and I hope you continue to draw attention to problems like these!

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  • SBrown

    This is the crucial point for AMEX if they are paying attention. Even though we’re in Atlanta where Delta is often the best option for routes and times, both of my and my wife’s Delta Rerserve cards, each with a $450 fee each and $135K in spend per year between them, are going back if Delta devalues the program more than they have already. I do not need to worry about Gold or Plat medallion; I rarely get upgrades out of Atlanta anyway. Instead, I’ll get the lowest level Skymiles Amex that comes with free checked bags and then never use that card — the free bags will more than offset the cost. Then, I’ll dump all of my business expenses onto a card with more reward flexibility so I’m not at Delta’s mercy anymore.

  • Hayes7

    Some years back, Hoover (vacuum cleaners) announced a deal where if you bought a Hoover in Ireland, you would get two pacages for the World Cup in the USA; the package was airfare, hotel and tickets… the deal almost bankrupted Hoover.
    I mention this story because it seems to me that someone, somewhere, somehow lost their way with the meaning of FF Loyalty Programs. It was meant to identify and reward Frequent Flyers. I know people who get hundreds of thousands of Delta miles without ever stepping on a plane.
    The currency of FF miles is equal to any monetary system and when you can earn the points without even flying… it seems to me that it devalues the entire concept.
    I earn my miles flying and they are worth less and less everyday; thus, I am in favor of an overhaul of the system but one where there are 2 currencies based on miles. One where you get miles for flying and another where you get miles for buying flowers, dig food etc. Perhaps “travel related miles make sense, but only if you book everything through the airline that offers the deals.

    That’s my opinion. I already get less miles for the class and price of the tickets on Delta’s partner airlines AND when I buy business class and get the same miles as someone in coach, it does not seem fair (to me). But, when I want to use my miles that I’ve earned from “Flying” and the price of the service that I request costs 2X the value that it was a year ago… I am simply pissed off.

    Tony Hayes

  • Mitch

    Delta (and the other airlines) actually make a monumental amount of money off of selling frequent flyer miles, so your Hoover analogy doesn’t make any sense in context. Since a lot of those miles are redeemed for domestic flights that would otherwise be under capacity, Delta comes out ahead. There’s a reason that Air Canada spun off Aeroplan, and it’s not that it was losing them money.

    I also don’t get your comment about buying business class and getting the same miles as someone in coach. For that to happen, the person in coach has to be in a very expensive coach bucket (or in a couple of circumstances you would be on a deeply discounted business bucket). YBM coach tickets are lucrative for the airlines, and so they want to reward them. As to earnings on partner airlines, Delta doesn’t set those rates, the partner airlines do as part of an agreement with Delta.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612853979 Nicholas Kokas

    One of the reasons in my opinion that Delta airlines has been able to devalue skymiles is due to airline consolidation. As an example my hub is DTW. Delta “the world’s largest airline” as some may view has a monopoly on the market. When a company is allowed to have such a large market share historically, consumer interests go down and corporate revenue becomes outweighed even if it means decreasing customer service. A more competitive market forces there to be a balance between both customer service and corporate profitability. Let’s face it, they are in business to make money. The BIG question to ask is at what cost to the consumer now that there is a lack of competition. I would not be surprised if in 5 years we see airlines become more regulated like they were in the past to protect consumer interests. As a medallion member, Delta Reserve holder spending LOTS of corporate expenditures a year, and most importantly an ACTUAL frequent flyer, I’m curious to see how the fall out between consumer and corporation will play out if these new ideas come to fruition. Perhaps it’s a test by Delta to leak this. Look what happened when Bank of America imposed new fees last year. The consumers took to the internet and voiced their opposition and threatened to take their business elsewhere. Within a month B of A retracted their new fees. Only problem is if I decide not to use Delta…. Who will I use? I have no real other options.. Food for thought :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612853979 Nicholas Kokas

    It’s not a credibility issue. He is simply reporting news on an airline whether it’s positive or negative. Do you complain when this blog brings to your awareness limited promotions that are to our benefit??? Bottom line you can’t make everyone happy.

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  • Sheephnter

    as a 2myn miler- if Delta does this, frankly they can kiss my ass goodbye

  • pbailey19

    This post might have really saved my bacon. I have a little over 100K of Amex MR points, and had planned to take advantage of the next inevitable Amex-to-Delta transfer promotion, to build up 150K Skymiles for a Business award to Australia that I hope to take in about 18 months. Since being burned by the British Airways Visa last year – my >100K Avios points earmarked for Upper Class International awards, now being redeemed for domestic cattle class in flying cigar tubes – I think I’ll simply avoid Delta, and SkyTeam altogether, for my “aspirational” award plans.

    If you don’t mind a couple of question – assuming that Delta went to a revenue-based awards system (ex: One cent for one SkyMile), would this also affect its partners, like AF, KLM, and V Australia? And second – and I know that everyone is harping on this – but in addition to renaming “Skymiles” to “Skypesos” – or “SkyZimbabweDollars”, maybe it’s time to rename “Membership Rewards” to “Miniscule Rewards”, or “Meaningless Rewards”. Would there be *any* decent MR air transfer partners left (who don’t slap on obscene taxes and fees)?

  • GUEST

    this “rumor” will happen…i was a member of a focus group delta put together last JUNE where they interviewed us about this. we told them it was the worst idea in the world, but they wouldn’t listen to us. we were all platinum and diamond members in the group. i will seriously look into switching my status and going to another airline if they do this

  • GUEST

    one more thing…the program will give you miles based on a combination of three factors: 1. the cost of the ticket 2. your status and 3. whether or not you used an amex card to purchase the ticket.

    a diamond medallion who uses the amex to purchase his/her ticket will be eligible for 12 skymiles per dollar spent: 10 of that comes from status, and 2 from using the Amex. a platinum can earn up to 10 skymiles per dollar: 8 from status and 2 from amex. golds can earn up to 8 or 9 (6(7)/2) silvers up to 6 or 7 (4(5)/2) and regular people earn…well, next to nothing.

    the redemption schedule started at 25,000 miles for a $350 ticket. i recall that a $1000 ticket was 65,000 miles, and it was graduated between the $350-$1000 range. of course those 1st class deals you get now, where a $4000 first class seat is 120,000 miles…forget it. a $4000 first class ticket is now close to 300,000 miles.

    the whole program is designed to devalue miles significantly. when we pointed out to them that none of us (the flyers) forced them to enter into the agreements with credit card companies, restaurants, etc. that having a glut of miles wasn’t our fault…it was theirs, they simply shrugged their shoulders and didn’t care.

    btw, everyone who has a credit profile that will get them an amex can switch to the venture card from capital one where you actually earn points towards PURCHASING a ticket…$25,000 in purchases will get you a ticket that you purchase with CASH for up to $500, then you earn pints on the purchase and earn miles on the redemption (since you paid for it)…this is a much better option than spending money with amex for skymiles which essentially become worth nothing. i will completely get rid of my amex card if delta goes this route and do all of my $200,000 of spending a year on the venture card.

    for those of you hoping this doesn’t happen, wake up and accept it. only a facebook tirade of epic proportions could change this…it’s been in the planning phases for a long time, like i said, i was in the focus group last june.

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  • xsquatchx

    being a flyer out of LGA/JFK, i am going to have a difficult time finding an alternative airline, but i am going to do so.

    i fly 1 or 2 round trips per week, but on fairly cheap tickets due to restrictions on fare spend from my company and clients. i get a bunch of segments and miles but i don’t spend a lot of money. obviously, delta does not care about travelers like me.

    i fly delta because i want to use the miles i earn from being away from my family during the week to buy tickets for family trips. if i can no longer do this with the new program, i will not spend another penny on delta if i can avoid it.

    i am angry about this, and i WILL leave delta in retaliation. i will find a better option that allows me to earn and spend the way i like and i won’t cry as i leave.

    in the mean time, every time i fly a dirty, junky MD-88 out of LGA or get squeezed into an oversold flight out of JFK, i will hope that there is greener grass somewhere.

  • Corbett Kroehler

    Delta’s huge capital expenditure at LaGuardia in the wake of the slot swap with US Airways makes it abundantly clear that Delta is worried about the serious inroads which jetBlue has made in the Big Apple during the last 5 years. I fly jetBlue about a dozen times a year and consider it my favorite domestic airline. For international travel, Delta is my favorite.

    jetBlue converted its loyalty program to the revenue-based model a couple of years ago and at first, I was confused. In the end, I like the change because the airline is not afraid to shower its members with bonuses, especially for business travelers who travel often and/or on transcontinental itineraries.

    Ironically, even though jetBlue is my favorite domestic airline and the carrier which I fly most often, I have elected to carry the SunTrust Delta SkyMiles debit MasterCard rather than the jetBlue American Express Card, even though the jetBlue card has a lower annual fee. I use the Delta card when I pay for jetBlue purchases. I realize that this costs me quite a few miles in light of our often I fly jetBlue. However, I made the decision for 2 reasons:

    1) I wanted a debit card rather than a credit card;

    and

    2) International award tickets (transatlantic and transpacific) are more valuable to me than domestic awards.

    In light of these criteria, the Delta debit card was the right choice and I haven’t regretted my decision.

    If, however, Delta should be penny wise and pound foolish with the SkyMiles program , I would reevaluate my choices. Besides, since my home base is MCO (Orlando, FL), my transatlantic and transpacific choices are about the same with British Air, Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic as with Delta. Were Delta to slap me in the face despite my having a SkyMiles account for more than a decade, I’d reciprocate by moving my business to jetBlue wherever possible for domestic legs and those foreign carriers for overseas service.

  • JMSL

    You’re a little off regarding the Hoover promotion… it was not in conjunction with the World Cup and the deal was for flights only. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_free_flights_promotion

    The real point of FF programs is not to reward loyalty, the point is to make money for the airlines. They do not “appreciate your loyalty” because it makes them feel good, they appreciate your loyalty because they appreciate your money. Fairness is not the point here.

  • studd

    I look forward to 1000000 o/w awards from MIA to ATL then I will finally get some speed on my inflight wifi
    yea right

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  • Tpculber

    This would be a good change for some flyers like myself, who fly ever week on a $500 ticket, but only receive 500MQMs. I flew 46/52 weeks last year but only accumulated gold status based on segments. If it becomes revenue based, I will fare much better. The system as it stands today place to much weight on miles flown, allowing international flyers to achieve status much easier than someone who flies weekly but not very far. The international flight may only cost 3 times as much but they receive 10+ times as many miles.

  • Nsipod

    I sat next to a VP of Delta Marketing on a flight, and he had stated that in 2012, Delta will be moving towards the idea that point redemption will be based off of the value of the ticket.

    I currently have 200,000 miles, and think that this will be a good thing. Currently, the majority of tickets I find require about 40k within the US, and international (to Asia) are almost never available. These same domestic tickets usually cost about $300. Therefore, I feel like this is hardly valued.

    If they make the program such that 7,500 miles = $150 in value, it would be great. However, if they change it so that 15,000 = $100 in value, it would be bad. I guess we will have to wait and see.

    An example of a good program for me was when United credit card had an offer such that they would exchange 10,000 points for $100 in fare. You could use as many points as you wanted and redeem as points+cash, if desired.

  • Shirley

    While it may be easy for many fliers to book on airlines other than Delta if you are from the Detroit area there really is no other choice. They must control at least 80-90% of the flights in/out of Metro. We are the ones that really get shafted!
    Unhappy with Delta!

  • Carol

    I am sick to death of airlines screwing everyone every chance they get. Delta seems to be particularly aggressive in this and I’m fed up with it. I think even if this scheme somehow gets delayed, I think it will be only that. They’ll wait until any dust-up blows over and then slip it into place when everyone is looking the other way.

  • Ron McNeely

    I’m also a reserve card holder, the benefits aren’t worth it as it is. As a 2 year Diamond who fell to Platinum, I rarely get upgrades anymore. I see no benefit of flying Delta any longer.

  • Jason M.

    Oh Delta, my Delta. I’m Gold Medallion and my partner’s Platinum Medallion, and we’re imploring you to reconsider this rumored change to the SkyMiles program. Collectively, we easily fly 150+ segments a year — many of which are booked in “premium” fare buckets (primarily Y and A). We’re both Platinum AMEX holders (business) and Delta AMEX Reserve holders (personal). I understand that accruing miles would, in theory, be easier for travelers like us under this revenue-based model, but this change would/will cause us to shift our collective loyalty to another carrier.

    Delta already makes it next-to-impossible for non-tech savvy members to redeem miles at low to medium levels for international business class seats. This change will institutionalize this problem. With this proposed change, our inability to use a reasonable number of miles to redeem long-haul business-class seats is a big enough kick to the rear that we’d rather shift our loyalty to a Star Alliance carrier — even if that carrier eventually altered their loyalty program to more closely resemble Delta’s “rumored” model. We’d rather not reward Delta — the first domino to fall in this punitive alteration to loyalty programs — with our business. From my perspective, it’s better to be loyal to a carrier who follows Delta’s lead than to align ourselves with the airline that initiated this terrible change.

    By the way, I can’t believe I’ve been so out of the loop that I’m just now reading about this. I guess I’ve had my head in the sand for the past several months. This rumored program change seems like the perfect opportunity for a preemptive, grassroots-style opposition campaign to “save SkyMiles.” Has anything like that cropped up, yet? If not, perhaps it should.

  • Tedburns

    Go southwest

  • Snathlicker

    Wow

  • Hnl4me

    I can in my miles all the time for AMEX gift cards! It’s only 21K for every 100.00 dollar gift card!

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  • Dubed_By_Delta

    Well, I got hosed…bought a round-trip ticket for business from a travel agent, Indianapolis to Tokyo via Detroit. Just got my November statement and immediately realized that my mileage total was not correct. Contacted Delta and was told the ticket “class” was for the discounted rate. I then communicated my extreme displeasure with my travel agent, who basically apologized and told me there was nothing he could do, at which time I told him “YOU were the one who booked the ticket” and gave me no knowledge or information about the reduced miles. BTW, I got 3,200 miles, when I should have received 13,340 miles…and I am even an “Elite” status. Long story short, I have all my correspondence and will be pleading my case to Delta, though I am sure I am “barking up a tree”. Oh, and I fired our Travel Agent too…what else have they been “forgetting” to tell me. In the future, I will book all travel directly through the Airlines Web site, and turn the invoice in for payment. Delta should also be FIRED! And now they just announced buying into Virgin Atlantic. Branson, get ready for Delta to ruin your airline too! Boy I wish for the old Northwest to return…

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  • @MsBoice (twitter)

    Well, when your home city is a Delta hub, you’re kind of held hostage to the airline, so as much as I’d like to choose another airline, the reality is that I can’t. Ugh.

  • Paulscovel

    Delta sucks… I have just shy of 15k miles which isn’t a lot but could’ve been redeemed for something like a hotel stay or car rental but now I can touch my miles at all because I have to have AMEX card to use them.. I’m out of luck as I won’t be getting one of those any time soon… So I switched to United which is way easier to use and a lot more choices oh and I can use my miles however I want! Oops Delta you just lost another customer and what a waste of time saving up my miles!! Oh yeah and I also tweeted numerous time to my 15k followers on twitter too. Have a great day!

  • Jeholc

    I’m always disappointed when I think about a winter getaway to someplace warm and my 60,000+ miles still are not enough to get a couple of tickets. Sure, we can fly to Minneapolis or other cold climate destinations, whoopee. If it get’s even more stingy, it won’t be important for me to fly Delta.

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