Delta Hacks Partner Mileage and MQM Earning Starting September 1, 2013

by on June 4, 2013 · 36 comments

in Delta

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One of the beauties of airline alliances and partnerships is the ability to fly on numerous airlines but accrue miles and elite miles with one airline of your choice. So instead of having mileage balances split across a bunch of different programs, you can accrue into a couple and focus on building and maintaining elite status with those airlines. While some airlines have been focused on building alliances (like Qantas’ and Emirates’ new love affair) Delta just announced today that it will be slashing the earning rates with some of their key partners.

For example, say you need to go to Seoul for a business trip and you’re booked in business class on Korean Air. Before September 1, 2013 you’d earn 100% base miles flown, plus a class of service bonus of either 35% or 25% depending on the fare class, either 100% or 75% MQMs and also a bonus of base miles for your Medallion level (for example a Gold Medallion would earn 100% of the miles flown).

After September 1 you would only earn 100% base flown miles. ZERO Medallion Qualifying Miles. ZERO Medallion bonus. ZERO Class of service bonus. Not only is this horrible news for earning miles on partners, but it’s also unfair that the new earning rates are effective for travel beginning September 1 rather than for travel booked beginning September 1. So if you already have travel planned for after that date and expected the MQMs for it for your 2014 elite qualification, this could definitely throw a wrench in your plans.

Grim earning ratios on many of Delta's partners

Grim earning ratios on many of Delta’s partners

In addition to Korean, Delta is taking away MQM-earning on Hawaiian, Malaysian and Olympic. MQMs are also reduced on partner flights on: Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa, China Airlines, Czech, China Eastern, China Southern, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam and Xiamen so make sure you double check the fare class when booking flights on those airlines and banking to Delta.

It seems to be business as usual with the following partners, though I’m skeptical that this won’t change in the future: Aeromexico, Air France, Alaska, Alitalia, GOL, KLM and Virgin Australia.

More Bad Changes to Come? I think this is just one of many more bad changes to come to Delta as they shift more to a revenue-based frequent flyer model. The hammer will drop when they likely switch redemptions to a revenue system (more expensive flights will need more miles, unlike today’s system of zones/tiers for award tickets). I’m guessing this change will be announced early in 2014 as they announce the 2015 SkyMiles program. Inside sources have told me that it was supposed to be rolled out earlier, but they encountered a lot of stumbling blocks, like leaked information and hiccups with credit card partners that made them delay implementation.

However, Delta already announced a revenue component of the Medallion elite program starting with the introduction of Medallion Qualifying Dollars in 2014. This isn’t a big deal for people who spend a lot on Delta ticketed flights or on their Delta Amex, but I don’t view it as an enhancement by any means since no improvements to the program were announced alongside it (like system-wide upgrades that are actually valuable).

Hat tip Delta Points who Tweeted me with Delta’s press release.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • cabrillo24

    My heart almost sank for a second as I take flights out to Italy and France, but may have to start looking at other airlines and their alliances.

  • Urbanist

    Delta is just really blowing it out the rear lately. I’m forced to fly Delta all the time for business, as I live in Atlanta, so I have better status on Delta than any other airline. The flight convenience is nice, but if another major international airline ever really established itself in Atlanta, I’d drop Delta in a heartbeat…

  • katzistan

    Awful. What’s even the point of an alliance now? Stuck with Delta too long, gotta switch to something actually valuable now.

  • D.

    With the introduction of the 2014 revenue-based Medallion program, is it likely that systemwide upgrades will be available on fare classes other than Y, B, and M for status earned in the 2014 calendar year?

  • Bill

    Brian- you’ve been really gung-ho about Delta recently… Does this change your views on them?

  • j midtown


  • Andrew

    There was never MQM earning on MH. HA or OA.

  • Corky

    Seems like this reduces a lot of incentive for partners to align with Delta since a lot of passengers will now not fly the partners. How does Delta compensate partner airlines for awards redeemed on the partners?

  • thepointsguy

    There is backend math, but basically partner airlines pay each other for miles redeemed

  • thepointsguy

    I haven’t been gung ho on Delta in a while- I went from Diamond to Exec Plat on AA. Recently I wrote about my experience using miles for Italy and a targeted Delta Amex offer that made sense for me, but thats about it. I do not like the direction Delta is headed.

  • thepointsguy

    I would love to see less fare restrictions up upgrades, but I highly doubt that is going to happen.

  • Jeff

    I understand why they might not award MQMs for travel on miscellaneous, non-alliance partners, but KE? No MQMs on any fare at all? Is KE leaving SkyTeam?

  • AMPfromBNA

    Best in class, right?…

    I have 300k miles banked. I am already planning to not focus on high level medallion status with DL this year. Should I cash the points in for gift cards (.60-.70 cents per mile) now? Do you think devaluation will drop below that point?

  • DWT

    Basically, Delta is telling their passengers they want them to fly on Delta metal, metal of partners they have joint ventures with (i.e. Air France, KLM, Alitalia and Virgin Australia), or metal of partners they have made financial investments in (i.e. Aeromexico and GOL). I guess Alaska is still in this group b/c Delta needs them for feed for their growing number of transpac flights out of Seattle

  • thepointsguy

    If you’re flexible, you can easily get way more than 1 cent per SkyMiles, so I would personally not redeem for gift certs unless you have no plans for air travel in the foreseeable future

  • thepointsguy

    Well put

  • Jill

    Hm. Even though that main splash page says flights flown after September 1, the detail page for Air Europa says the following: “(For Travel On or After June 1, 2013)”

  • InsertCoffee

    First the Gordon’s debacle. And now this. For the Skyteam members, don’t they have to be on 006 stock to get full credit? Trying to remember-there have been so many arcane changes in just a few months.


    “…and hiccups with credit card partners…”

    There’s also a likely “enhancement” of the worth of a MR point coming too. And by enhancement, you know what I mean…

  • Allan Klein

    I doubt it. KE, AF, DL and AM are the founding members.

  • Andy

    A shitty airline mileage program got shittier. Shocking.

  • NKF

    No surprise there. Delta’s mileage program is really lousy, you need far more DL miles for an award then required by, AA, BA, UA for example. Really not sure where Delta comes off asking for 280,000 miles for an economy class seat fm JFK to LHR and not to offer one way awards at half the miles of a round trip. I avoid delta as much as i can, i try all kind of combinations, just not to fly them. They are really lousy. And by the way, don’t be fooled with Delta’s the new addition to JFK’s Term 4. Its not extra capacity because their Term 3 is being knocked down and not replaced. Get ready for some very very long lines @ Security, Immigration and Customs when flying in and out of Term 4. It was already very busy in there with many overseas airlines, it really gets very crowded in there with DL moving in. This terminal 4 move should have been a temporary move, until they built a mega terminal on the footprints of Term 2 & 3.

  • James Ward

    So pleased I just burned 150,000 Skymiles booking LAX-PER-MEL, SYD-LAX on VA.

  • jason

    Rene must be hiding his crocodile tears. What else can the man do with that useless blog ( because of Delta )?

  • jason

    Move out of that disgusting ghetto. I did and try to avoid setting foot on that horrible city!

  • BEM

    I dont know what Delta is trying to do with their FF program. Skypesos is an understatement!!!!! I am suprised that AMEX isnt putting more pressure on Delta to stop constantly devaluating their program. I am so happy I transferred 900,000 of my 1,200,000 Membership Rewards points into Continental because I knew this would happen!!! United and American have great programs with tons of great partners for reasonable redemption partners. i refuse to fly Delta at All Costs because I will get No value out of their SkyPesos program. Another thing which annoys me about Delta is that their main Asian partner, Korean Air has so many blackout dates. Delta is really targeting more upscale people who are willing to pay more. I will Not fly Delta!

  • bem

    KE is basically a mute member. They impose so many blackout dates that for them being in an alliance is pointless.

  • Dan

    Man, I live in Seoul and fly mostly on KE….this is going to SUCK!

  • Alex

    Good thing I am down to my last 450 delta miles. I let my silver status lapse, just going to match my *A gold status to a foreign airline. They seem to treat their own a lot better. Still waiting to see what the new AA will do. But that is probably almost over a year away…so much for caring for loyal customers.

  • FFlyerCDG

    One more reason to avoid DL… If it was necessary :-)
    Apart for those of you leaving close to a DL hub, I don’t understand why people are still collecting Skypesos… Lousy program, lousy hard and soft product.
    And I’d be really curious to know if non US passengers are still banking flights to DL

  • Confused

    I’m a little confused. You can still fly on KE flights and get MQMs as long as they have DL flight numbers, correct? And if you can’t find a DL flight number on your KE flight, you’re SOL?

  • NCJ

    Right… but even if it is a codeshare flight, if you were ticketed as a KE flight, it probably means that it won’t be counted as a DL flight. If it is a codeshare run by KE, you must be ticketed with the DL codeshare number to receive the MQM

  • Nick Aster

    Although it seems pretty hard to predict, what makes folks think that AA and United wouldn’t follow suit with many of these changes? I’m at the cusp of ditching Delta, but seems like it’s all so unpredictable now why invest in the other guys?

  • KC flyer

    Delta has lost it’s shine
    Not a good partner .They want loyalty but seem to give none
    Taking away MQMs from Korean Air trying to force people to fly on them at ridiculous prices is nuts .They are not very competitive fly in U.S.cities either
    Being a Diamond and or Platinum members for years plus a delta reserve card has me rethinking my loyalty to them .
    It time to go shopping !!!


    Found KE flight to SGN booking thru KE not Delta
    Business Class price was $6000. Less than booking thru DL
    Who do they think they are they aren’t worth a penny more than KE (probably less)
    So if they think their MQMs are worth paying $6000. More they are NUTS
    and anyone who books on them fo that much more money is nuts also .

  • Gj

    Why is Atlanta disgusting? Were you living in the hoods of Atlanta or what?

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