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Should I Choose Flying Blue Over SkyMiles In Light Of The Upcoming Delta Changes In 2014?

by on November 24, 2013 · 9 comments

in Air France, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Flying Blue, skyteam, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Jonathan asked:

“I would love to hear your opinion on the relative merits of Flying Blue vs. SkyMiles given the sweeping changes to SkyMiles coming in 2014. I fly about 80,000 miles annually on SkyTeam partners, typically on trips to Africa. I love the free upgrade to Economy Comfort that I get with my Platinum Medallion status, especially with all the long-haul, red-eye flights I take in a year. But I’m a scientist, flying economy, and booking low-cost tickets, which on routes to East Africa, almost always means booking on KLM or Air France, since Delta-coded flights for the same route are often double the price, so it’s unlikely that I’d hit $7,500 in Medallion Qualifying Dollars in a year, and I may not put $25k on a credit card in a year, either. But it also seems that a lot of the low-cost KLM/Air France tickets may have reduced qualifying-mile payouts, making it tough to get higher-level elite status. What do you recommend?”

Unfortunately, you are spot on. Not only are the airlines devaluing – Delta has two major devaluations set for 2014 and Air France/KLM announced a huge devaluation earlier this year – but they several including Delta are also adding in spend requirements, so if you don’t spend $7,500 on Delta or Delta ticketed flights on their partners, then you don’t get Platinum Medallion status. Even if you continue to fly 85,000 miles a year but only spend $5,000 on tickets, you will still only qualify for Gold Medallion status.

You deserve the best, but are you always getting it with Delta SkyMiles?

You deserve the best, but are you always getting it with Delta SkyMiles?

For all the details on the changes, read my post: Delta Officially Confirms New Revenue Based Medallion Program.

These are going to be the requirements starting in June, 2014:

MEDALLION QUALIFICATION
Silver Gold Platinum Diamond
MQDs $2,500 $5,000

$7,500

$12,500
and and and and
MQMs 25,000 50,000 75,000 125,000
or or or or
MQSs 30 60 100 140

In addition, earlier this month, the airline announced that it would be increasing mileage redemption levels sooner with a new award chart it would put in place for tickets from February 1-May 31, 2014 before the “big” devaluation that will take place in June and drive up premium international awards.

I think this is a great time to consider  your 2014 elite strategy and ask yourself, does my current loyalty strategy make sense? The biggest issue is that in SkyTeam, you don’t have a lot of better options. If you are flying cheap coach tickets and join Flying Blue, you’re not even going to get 100% of the miles flown most of the time. So instantly, even though you’re flying 80,000 miles – if you only get 50% credit, you’re only at 40,000 miles anyway. Even if you are a Flying Blue elite, you’re not going to be getting the upgrade priority within the US like you would with Delta, and their premium awards can carry some insanely high fuel surcharges. So for those three reasons alone, I really wouldn’t recommend Flying Blue as an alternative.

I do have a solution, though, that I think will make a lot of sense for you though – bank your miles to Alaska Airlines. They have got a pretty strong partnership with Delta, and if you hit the 75,000-mile level crediting your earning to Alaska’s Mileage Plan program, the airline will give 100% and first class bonuses on Delta fares. At the 75,000-mile level, you are going to get upgrades on Delta in the US, a 50% discount on Economy Comfort, and at the end of the day, Alaska miles are much more valuable than SkyMiles thanks to the airline’s amazing partners across both SkyTeam and Oneworld as well as non-alliance airlines.

Alaska Airline partners

Alaska Airlines have a number of great partners, and Emirates is especially handy for flying to Africa.

Alaska’s airline partners include a bunch ofSkyTeam partners like Air France and KLM, but also American, Cathay Pacific, BA and Qantas in Oneworld (among others), and Emirates (which can be a really good carrier to fly to Africa), Fiji Airways and a whole bunch of other options. Check out all the benefits of their Mileage Plan here.

So for your circumstances, Alaska is a far smarter option all around to gain valuable miles and elite status benefits without having to alter your travel patterns too much – and you don’t have to worry about those pesky revenue requirements!

For more information on the changes at Delta and opportunities with Alaska, read my previous posts below:

Delta Officially Confirms New Revenue Based Medallion Program

Delta Announces Yet Another Award Chart Devaluation Starting In February

Delta Makes International Business Class Awards More Expensive And No More Award Ticket Holds

Alaska Becomes The Next Airline To Devalue Its Frequent Flyer Miles

Maximizing The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card Flight Bonuses And 99 Companion Ticket

Alaska Airlines Double EQMs From Seattle Through May 2014

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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  • jivepicnic

    I am a US flyer who credits his Delta flights to Flying Blue. This works for me because I am not a heavy flyer, but I do have a lot of segments for work travel. This year I’ve flown 30 Skyteam segments, primarily on Delta, and that is enough to get me Gold status (and Skyteam Elite Plus) on Flying Blue. I would only have Silver status on Delta after all of these flights, and next year I probably wouldn’t have that because of the MQD requirement. You’re totally right that you only get a fraction of the redeemable miles on discounted coach tickets, but with an 18-month-old at home, I’m not doing much leisure travel right now. I prefer the Skyteam Elite Plus benefits I get such as free Economy Comfort seats at booking as well as the infrequent domestic upgrade on Delta. If you’re looking to qualify for status with miles flown, Flying Blue is probably not for you, but it works really well for me because the segments required for status are so much less than that of other airlines. You can even get Platinum (highest level) status after only 60 segments!

  • Dieuwer

    My idea. I am also thinking of switching to Alaska MilleagePlan. Do you know if they would do a status match to my Delta Silver Medallion status? Or is silver too low to be considered?

  • Shana

    If I earn Platinum status on Delta for 2014, but starting in January I use my Alaska Mileage Plan number on my Delta reservations, will I get upgraded as a Delta Platinum (5 days before departure) or as an Alaska Mileage Plan member (day of departure)? Thanks!

  • Eddie

    Do the Skymiles changes for 2014 status apply to non-US residents as well?

  • stephan

    No

  • JG

    Also if you fly a lot to the Middle East and Africa a good program is MEA Cedar Miles, you only need 20,000 miles to become silver and 40,000 for Gold

  • http://www.digmydata.com/ Adam Wride

    Would like to know the answer to this as well…

  • pj

    Thanks for the post! I am basically in the exact same situation, with a lot of low-cost flights to East Africa (3 this year).. With a few domestic flights, I’m going to earn around 80K MQMs for the rest of this year. Thinking that I would continue to earn Delta miles this year (and take advantage of the 100% platinum bonus) and then switch to Alaska in 2015, assuming all is the same. Problem is: don’t know if earning all these delta miles this year will be worth a whole lot going forward. Any advice?

  • Henry

    Bad news. ”
    Delta, Alaska to Cut Reciprocal Elite Benefits”

    http://www.frequentflier.com/blog/delta-alaska-to-cut-reciprocal-elite-benefits/

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