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Delta Confirms Negative SkyMiles Program Changes Effective January 2015

by on February 26, 2014 · 108 comments

in Delta

Earlier this morning, Delta sent out a press release announcing changes that will be made to the SkyMiles program starting January 1, 2015, that they claim will make earning and redeeming easier for SkyMiles members, and in my opinion, they’re all going to be bad news for most Delta flyers.

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Changes to the SkyMiles program will be effective January 1, 2015.

Here are my thoughts and suggestions, then read on below to find out the details of these new changes:

Earning

The major changes here – at least the ones Delta has released details on so far – involve the mileage earning structure. Delta will be transitioning from a traditional distance-based earning program where the miles you earn is based on the miles you fly, to a revenue-based earning structure where you earn miles based on the cost of a ticket and the fare class you purchase. Here’s how it breaks down:

Delta new earningSo General members will earn 5 miles per dollar.
Silver Medallion 7 miles per dollar
Gold Medallion: 8 miles per dollar
Platinum Medallion: 9 miles per dollar
Diamond Medallion: 11 miles per dollar

You can still earn 2 miles per dollar with a Delta co-branded Amex.

To put that in context, let’s say you were a General member and bought a roundtrip ticket from LAX-JFK for $350. Here’s the earning comparison:

Delta exampleThis year, you’d earn 4,950 miles, but next year, you’ll earn just 1,750 miles – just about a third of the miles you’d be earning currently. Even top-tier Diamond Medallions fare no better:

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At this rate as a general member, you’re basically earning miles at 20 cents each – a terrible value and much more than I’d value any mileage currency, let alone Delta SkyMiles.

When traveling on Delta’s partner airlines, you will still  earn a percentage of miles flown based on the fare class of the ticket you purchased, though Delta recently hacked away at partner earning as well, and details on the new earning structure here have not been released yet either. Basically, if you’re flying short-haul/expensive flights you may earn a lot more miles than you would by simply flying the short distance. But for most travelers, you’re probably going to net a lot less miles.

Earning Medallion status will not be affected for now – the mileage/segment and spending requirements will remain in place.

Redeeming

Redeeming for awards will be based on a five-tier structure (details still to be released) where the lowest level, SkyMiles Saver Awards in Economy, will be around the same levels they are now, i.e. 25,000 miles per roundtrip award ticket for travel within the U.S. and Canada, excluding Hawaii. However, the devil will be in the details of this new 5-tier structure (which, again, are yet to be released). Though it doesn’t look like the redemption side will look like other revenue-based programs like Southwest or Virgin America, where the number of points you redeem will depend entirely on the price of your prospective fare, the fact that there will be so many tiers for redemptions leads me to believe that pricing will be on a sliding scale more closely tied to ticket/fare prices.

However, Delta is already starting with an award chart that is undergoing not one, but two devaluations - one that just happened and another larger one in June that will drive award prices sky high, especially compared to competing carriers. You can check out my list of airline award charts here, and compare the charts of various airlines to the destinations you’re interested in.

Additionally, Delta will introduce One-Way Awards – finally! – starting at 12,500 miles for travel with the U.S (excluding Hawaii) and Canada – so at half the level you’d need for a roundtrip award -  as well as the option to use Miles + Cash.

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In the example they give, you’re looking at low-level 25,000-mile roundtrip awards from LAX-JFK based on availability and then higher levels of 35,000 miles, or the option to redeem a cash and miles award at 25,000 miles + $159 – essentially buying 10,000 miles for $159, or 1.59 cents each. That’s not terrible, but not terribly exciting either.

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Finally, Delta promises a new award calendar search function, which hopefully means a long-overdue update to its award search engine, which is among the worst of the major airlines.

Delta claims that this new system will increase flexibility for travelers, free up more low-level award space, and generally make redeeming SkyMiles easier, but it just looks to me like it will make redeeming for decent-value awards that much more unlikely.

Strategies Going Forward

Though these changes are aimed squarely at the premium business traveler market, I think it is shortsighted of Delta to focus solely on these flyers. Granted, they are among the most profitable travel demographics, but there are a lot more flyers out there who are just out to buy economy tickets that get them where they need to go, and mileage programs can incentivize them to choose one airline over another. By effectively dismissing the concerns of the majority of budget and leisure travelers who have to watch their wallets, Delta is potentially alienating a huge swath of its customers.

As for those premium business travelers – they’re going to have a lot less to look forward to, because not only are the new earning and redemption rates dismal, but Delta has also recently increased SkyClub fees and no longer allows basic members and affiliated credit cardholders to bring guests. The airline also blocks international first class awards on partner airlines, and makes upgrading your partner/friend/spouse exorbitant if they want to come along on one of those international business trips. The airline also no longer gives complimentary upgrades on transcontinental flights. I could go on and on, but the bottom line here is that Delta is slapping its flyers in the face and unilaterally introducing a new mileage program that automatically puts most of them (those buying discount tickets) at a disadvantage.

Overall, we’ll have to see how these new earning and redeeming options develop as more details are announced. However, analyzing SkyMiles against other programs brings me to the simple conclusion that this change is overwhelmingly negative despite some positive aspects like one-way awards (after other carriers have been offering them for years) and the possibility (though it remains to be seen) that more low-level award space will free up. All that is counterbalanced and pretty much overwhelmed by the severely reduced mileage-earning opportunities that will be in place that are going to make earning those award tickets a lot more expensive and time-consuming.

So what can we do? Well, I still think there’s time to have our say. Delta can still roll back these changes if it wants to, and in order to make that happen, a lot of people need to understand just how bad these changes are and what it means for them. But then they also have to call, email, write and do anything else possible to get in touch with Delta and complain loudly and often with your thoughts on these changes.

I’ve been saying all year so far that I am reevaluating my elite status strategy with Delta due to all the negative changes recently, and this is just the nail in the coffin. I plan to double down with American since I think Executive Platinum status is the best top-tier elite status out there. For those of you who are stuck flying Delta itself, there are still options to play around with. The airline is partners with Alaska, so you can bank your miles there and use them on Alaska’s fantastic airline partners at decent rates, and you won’t have to worry about Delta’s new Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirements for elite status, either.

These huge changes – the ones we know about so far – are going to affect millions of flyers, and if you’re one of them, you should let Delta know how you feel, and share your thoughts on this move in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Joe

    agree – changes are terrible. i have status with delta through this year so will continue to fly with them in 2014 when it makes sense, but going to start building loyalty with american

  • Kyle J.

    I completely agree with you that these changes are “bogus”! I think it will really hurt domestic business travelers who should be a target market for Delta and other airlines. I live in the Denver market and have long fought transitioning from Delta to United, but these changes may make the decision much easier.

  • Aubrey Miller

    Delta will certainly be hearing from me…

  • John J

    Ok….so no mor delta

  • joeypore

    Hahaha. It seems like Delta is saying “goodbye” to a lot of travelers.
    I’m loyal to AA anyway, but this makes me never even want to touch Delta flights.

  • ExDeltaFlyer

    Too drastic of changes…only Gold with Delta and same with United but will be phasing Delta out of my life in 2015. Really hope others dont follow suit….but that may be wishful thinking.

  • David Benton

    They will be hearing from me as well, for all the good it will do. I don’t travel for business, but fly every chance I get, and do plan at least one long trip each year ( and I usually at least make silver) in an effort to bank a lot of “useless” miles that I had hoped to use after retirement. I am a very loyal Delta customer for this reason. As pointed out above I am planning to go to Cape Town this year. I will be getting close to 30K FFM, If I took the same trip next year I would be lucky to get 7k. That is not only absurd, but a slap in the face to a very 20+ year loyal customer.

  • Keith W

    What I don’t get about this is the program changes are pitched to people who have no incentive to be cost-effective (business folks) and are ‘stuck’ based on their business/location/etc but punishes savvy fliers who can be more flexible with their flying options. How is this a sound business strategy for getting customers if the ones who have a choice aren’t the ones they court? It seems so short-sighted.

    What the loudest way to complain? Certified post or phone? I assume twitter/facebook doesn’t help much if you are low visibility.

  • ogi

    if they only introduced back the transcon upgrades – or even get more creative about int’l upgrades – i’d be fine with this. i’m not in this game for award tickets anyway.

  • Peter

    guess im switching to united or aa… wish i still had my status match

  • Rachel

    Have you done the math on break even travel? The last time I flew Delta was the shuttle from DC to New York. I could see this being beneficial for someone who typically flies under 500 miles and qualifies on segments instead of mileage. I think that is a rare case though.

  • Kathy

    TPG, I still need to select both my 2013 & 2014 Choice Benefit. Crazy question, does this 1/1/15 change now make choosing the SWU Choice benefit in Feb of 2014 a better option??

  • dealspin

    You just know that the redemption changes are going to be even worse than the earning changes. There’s a reason we haven’t seen them yet. You know they have them. They’re just cushioning the blow.

  • Santastico

    Brian, do you really think that Delta cares if not profitable customers start to email, tweet, etc… to complain about these changes? They couldn’t care less and there is no going back. They are the largest airline in this country and know many flyers have no choice other than flying with them. I would like to know your opinion regarding hubs like NYC where customers do have options so assuming prices are similar due to competition why would someone fly JFK-LAX on Delta rather than flying on AA or others?

  • Kpdtl

    This is clearly in response to AA’s cost-cutting measures announced yesterday: http://www.theonion.com/articles/american-airlines-to-phase-out-complimentary-cabin,35367/

  • Darth Chocolate

    Certainly good news for us BITS (Butt In The Seat) FF who fly International Business Class, although I may be leaving many miles on the table. All of you who get status and miles through spend will get hosed – I think the CCs were meant to enhance the program, not to replace it.

    I have a IAH-CDG R/T in Business Class for $8400. That will earn 20,104 miles as a PE in 2014 and 75,000 as a PE in 2015.

    According to their calculator, at the 9 pts/$, I lose 600 miles (over the limit).
    When I get Diamond later this year, the loss in miles will be 17,400 for the same ticket – this may make me be a little more price sensitive, looking for the sweet spot to minimize the mile loss.

    And for all of you who are complaining about this, it was only a matter of time until the airlines wised up. Don’t be too surprised when UA or AA institutes the same type of program with worse terms.

  • Peter

    do we still earn the elite bonuses or first class/business bonuses? that would really suck if we dont…

  • Bo Ferm

    This is what I wrote to Delta today:

    To Delta Executive Management,

    I’m totally dismayed by the changed to the SkyMiles program as announced today to become effective in 2015. To change from a mileage based program (SkyMiles) to a revenue based program (SkyDollars?!) is deeply unfair to the vast majority of people flying Delta.

    I really can’t believe that Delta continues to slap its customers in the face with more negative changes on top of the recent devaluations of the miles already earned in my account (such as adding 25K miles to the lowest tier for international business class travel, now 125K miles, effectively a price increase of 25%!) plus the MQD requirement for 2014 – yet another revenue based requirement. I can only hope that enough travelers
    join the protests so that this idiotic program change is rolled back. I will
    protest in all forms and media, and I can only say that this change just made me so angry today that I will no longer feel any loyalty to Delta whatsoever – a hard thing to say after having flown 2 Million Miles and having been Platinum for most of the time since 1999. I echo fully the sentiment as expressed by The Points Guy here:
    http://thepointsguy.com/2014/02/delta-confirms-negative-skymiles-program-changes-effective-january-2015/

    This program change will benefit maybe 2% if Delta’s flyers while being a slap in the face for the other 98%, me included. Since you obviously are trying to attract high-fare paying passengers, why not just improve the benefits for those who pay full fare First and Business Class fares
    rather than reducing the benefits for the rest of us? I will earn only 30-50% of the miles I have typically earned so far and that is NOT an incentive to continue to fly Delta – sorry, but I intend to take my business elsewhere unless this unfair program change is rolled back, and with an apology to all.

    Bo Ferm

    DL xxx

  • Marnie

    Lucky, I’m in Los Angeles and have my choice of airlines. I am loyal to United, so if they switched to a similar plan, I would be okay because they are my preferred carrier. However, I would certainly think twice about booking on another airline like Delta with this new policy. Right now, I am flying to Puerto Vallarta via Delta because it’s a direct flight. I can fly United but with a connection at SFO. If I would have known this beforehand, I would have booked with United or Alaska.

    I work in corporate America and the days of the business traveler paying full fares is incredibly small and we know the leisure traveler is not paying a full fare, so this will hurt them in the long run.

  • Juan

    Already shared my thoughts with Delta today and called Amex to confirm I’d be cancelling my Delta Gold Amex before the annual fee. Glad I got my 50K bonus miles!

  • Mike Furgason

    So hypothetical situation here. I live in CIncinnati, a has-been Delta hub that is still dominated by Delta. Would it be better for me to switch over to another airline, like Alaska, and book through them since their awards are going to be much better post 2015?

  • Santastico

    If you sent this by email they already hit the delete button. If you sent a letter it is already in the shredder. Delta does not care. They are in the business of making money not making customers happy. Don’t waste your time.

  • ReevesJB

    I’m in Raleigh-Durham and do mostly domestic biz travel. Built Gold Medallion status on Delta, which means I almost always connect through ATL. Some casual analysis shows that under these changes, I’ll actually be earning more miles on RDU-ATL roundtrips and a number of connections through ATL/DTW.

    Problem is, the MQD requirements will probably price me out of earning higher status – $5k is a reach for me, $7.5k isn’t happening. Any honestly, earning upgrades/free bags is my main goal.

    TPG, thanks for your in-depth analysis. Looking forward to your re-evaluation of the top loyalty programs. I’m lucky to not be hub-limited in my travel options, so even though I’m a recovering AA customer from a few years ago, I may have to take another look now.

  • Zach

    This is great news for me, as I’m a corporate travel agent. Now I can push higher fares for my clients which result in higher commissions for me.

  • Joe

    As I live in Dallas, I fly solely AA. However, I have to think that this change isn’t as bad for most people as your post makes it out to be. The LAX/SFO to NYC market is one that is pretty cheap, and pretty far. But, most people are probably more like me, paying about 300-350 to fly maybe 1000-1500 miles one-way. Imagine, especially, for folks who live in say Cleveland or many of the larger cities but with smaller/regional airports that are likely to be very expensive.

  • peace_meal

    I agree. I commute to Brazil from the US and Delta’s improvement in services, amenities, technology and customer service has left the others in the dust. As a business traveler with Exec Plat, 1K, and DM status (I was GS with UA before the merger while maintaining EP on AA and DM on DL) – I am probably in a good position to judge how far ahead DL is in providing a better product and service than the others.

    The overall strategy of DL to cater to flyers and earn their loyalty by providing them dependable service before, during, and after they fly is much better to me than bribing people to fly through miles.

    Ever since the miles idea came about from AA, the aviation industry’s focus on customers and product slowly eroded as they felt they could earn customers by offering more miles and free flights instead of good service and dependability.

    Since DL has started to close that chapter, it is soon going to share the skies with the likes of EK, EY, 9W, (even SQ – as avid SQ flyers will attest that they don’t fly SQ for the miles due to their notoriously difficult redemption availability, levels, and processes) etc. These carriers are respected for their service and product.

    Thank you DL for taking us back to the basics of what makes a good airline great!

    Yes, it will hurt that I can’t find the same redemption levels for my family when we go on vacation, but I would much rather DL raise the bar for the industry in what it actually does – being a great airline.

  • Jerry

    After years of my employer paying for flights to many destinations……..many times less than 200/ 300 miles….they now use GotoMeeting, videoconferences, webinars and telephone conferencing to save on paying for hotel, airfares, meals etc………..Delta and others will at some point understand that there is a limit to what businesses can afford, and what leisure travelers will pay

  • Joe

    Dude, same thing for me. I fly from LAX to Asia in business class from anywhere between $5000-$8000 per round trip. Before I would get like 20-25K miles per trip. Now it’s almost 75000 each time. To get sound the limit, maybe you can book two one way tickets

  • Jim

    I am a business traveler that doesn’t pay full fare but also doesn’t fly international much. This will actually benefit me as I tend to fly on expensive close-in fares. I know a lot of people think this will hurt Delta because us “price-insensitive” business travelers are forced to Delta but we aren’t. I can fly anyone I want – I choose my airline based on where I can get the most FF benefit – to me Delta becomes the absolute no-brainer here

  • denverstreetcar

    is it only a matter of time before United follow suit?

  • Darrin Earl

    Already did the same math… those big $ international business tickets suddenly got much more lucrative, and DL has already got the best international Business cabin of a US carrier… until AA gets a LOT more 773s at least.

    I really think mileage runners all had their collective heads explode this morning…

  • Ryan L.

    Thanks for your analysis. I will be emailing DL tonight. I have been Platinum for several years. Even though I’m a budget conscious leisure traveler 95% of the time, I often pay more and take less direct routings to fly DL. I have been generally happy with my upgrade success rate and treatment by DL, lousy redemption opportunities aside. However, I think AA/US, UA, and AS are going to follow suit, if not in 2015, then 2016 after they see how this shakes out for DL.

    Also, I don’t see the DL/AS frenemy relationship lasting much longer. Tilden has said that AS is exploring other options. My guess is AA given that they already have a relationship. I may attempt to status match to AS next year, if they will have me, since a lot of my travel is to SEA, PDX, and LAX anyway. Plus they have a nice variety of partners.

    On the lounge issue, I would love to see more third party lounges, but it’s complicated with separate terminals in so many airports.

  • ADPage

    So glad I made the switch to AA last year. I just hope they don’t try to follow DL….

  • http://www.LiveSmartNotHard.com/ Steve Bierfeldt

    Brian, my Delta Amex Platinum card is set to renew and re-charge the now updated $195 yearly fee on March 1st. Do you think there’s any worth to keeping it? The only real benefit that was keeping me was the MQD waiver and the companion pass. But now that pass is $50 more expensive. Whatever I decide I’d better decide quickly. What would you suggest?

  • Bad Scooter

    I’m an idiot when it comes to things like this. I live in and fly out of Columbia, SC and achieved Platinum status via segments. How will this affect me? I guess it’s hard to tell when/if they make changes to that plan.

  • Brian C. Lee

    You’re probably safe (for the time being), since they’ll be consumed by the merger for a while.

  • floressalicis

    Your math doesn’t make sense. The change is to RDMs, not MQMs. If you’re paying $5k-$8k for business class, that’s full fare business. Your 20k base MQMs get a 100% MQMS bonus for full business fares, so you should get 40k MQMs, plus you get another 100% bonus on RDMS on top of that for 80k RDMs. Now if you were diamond you would stand to make 88k RDMs which is marginally better off an $8k fare booking one ways to get around the cap, maybe. But short that, you’re still losing miles.

  • Matt

    Delta just gave people another reason to look elsewhere.

    I’ve been platinum for a few years running now with my home base in MSP. I enjoyed the perks and would sometimes fly flights that weren’t necessarily convenient for the sake of miles. Lets just say I’m now happy Southwest starting adding more of a presence to MSP to keep DL honest. The cheapest fare will now be my main concern.

    Typical corporate greed…

  • Rick

    Since I’ve been a Gold, I have not seen one upgrade and now I will get 1/3rd of the miles that I used to get! Since I’ve been saving my miles, I’ve only had enough miles to get a few economy tickets, since business class mileage levels are always incredibly high (550,000 from SEA to PEK last I checked). I will definitely be switching to Alaska Air starting in 2015.

  • Carrie_C

    Glad I switched solely to USAir this year. I divided my time between Delta/USAir last year and never got as good of service or on-times as I did with USAir. This is just the nail in the coffin for me. Even if AA matches Delta, at least I was happy there first.

  • BobColorado

    All of you bloggers who travel in luxury around the world without paying the airlines deserve this change. Apparently the only business model you have left is to keep pushing credit cards on people and earn your affiliate dollars. Its about time the airlines wised up – Their business is to reward CUSTOMERS not credit card churners.

  • AceV

    Did you not read the article? Even their best paying customers get less value when they base it on dollars spent versus miles flown. And the one or two flight a year crowd may as well head to priceline and let the airlines bid on them. There really is no loyalty incentive anymore.

  • ExitRow

    what can i transfer my delta miles to?

  • Darth Chocolate

    If you read the rules, there is no change to MQMs, just redeemable points (“RP”; note how they are NOT calling them “miles”). Actually, the $8 K cost is for a *discounted*, non-refundable Business Class ticket.

    As for your math, a IAH-CDG-IAH on a code share (DL ticketed) just got me 15,000 MQM (including the 50% bonus) – actual one-way mileage was a tad over 5,000 – so 7,500 MQM when the 50% class of service is factored in. I have done many trips to China and the one-way mileage is around 8,000, so you get around 24 K or so MQM with the bonus.

    For us BITS, we do not worry about MQDs, since 2 trips like that get you to the minimum spend for DM.

    However, now I get 75K redeemable points instead of around 25K – that’s 3 times as much, so I really should not care about the cap too much.

    Now, “Economy Comfort” (or Premium Economy or “W”) fares may be a sweet spot for the price/MQM/RP balance. I priced a W fare that AF has on sale from NYC, bookable through DL, and it’s around $1,600 each way ($3,200 R/T). As a PM, I would get the somewhere around 12K MQM, and around 30K RP. Not too shabby!

  • Darth Chocolate

    Not true – International Business travelers are the most profitable and make out quite well,

  • Darth Chocolate

    You do not know what you are talking about.

    If a business does not make customers happy, pretty damn soon they won’t have any customers.

    The airlines are not in business for your convenience.

  • Darth Chocolate

    They will follow just as soon as they can figure out how.

    So will AA.

  • Guest

    Today I pulled the trigger

  • Kirk

    @brain : I am sorry but your argument is very irrational. One, you want to buy stuff at Walmart prices but at the same time expect Nordstrom kind of treatment. Does this make any business sense ? People traveling on discounted fares are already getting what they want…that is low fare tickets! So why worry if elite service is reserved for people who pay more? Is there anything wrong with this. If this helps delta to focus on product and service levels, which btw is already way better than ua and aa, then the move is all the more justified.

  • Hate2015Skymile

    Just wrote a long email to Delta. This is indeed ridiculous. I have been Diamond for couple of years now (2012 2013 2014), and I have to admit it was relaxing to be Diamond during travel – the upgrades, check in process and everything. But this is something different – changing the core reason to be a frequent flier – to earn miles so you can spend that with your family on your next vacation.

    I agree with their 2014 move – MQM and MQD. This is reasonable to say that only ppl who spend x$ gets the royal treatment but taking the miles is ridiculous. I was Chairman on USAir for 2009 2010. 2011 i started to switch to Delta after hearing the perks. This makes me feel to switch again to someone else – maybe United.

    Thanks for the post. I called Diamond line too… ! I am not going to beg Delta, but just going to switch. There is nothing to lose in Switching – if others start doing the same I may then revisit my decision then. But I am not going to be a Fanboy with Delta and hope others will do the same move and better to continue with Delta forever!!!!!!

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    No. The bonuses are in the price. (Higher fare = more miles). Your elite bonus is built in to the calc. (FO = 5 miles per dollar, PM = 9 per $, DM = 11 per $) Except for buying full fare first class tickets, or high-fare, short-haul flights you lose under this deal. Transcon flights = lose. International long haul in coach = major lose!

    As others have pointed out, the break even point (to earn what you now earn) requires a fare of about 20 cents per mile. That’s VERY expensive unless you are flying first.

    No real reason to be loyal to Delta anymore.

  • TheyCallMeEllis

    I’ll be with them for the remainder of this year, or until AA status matches me. Whichever comes first. Regardless of match, I’m gone (with my 135k+ annual miles) come 2015.

  • Hate2015Skymile

    Have you recently visited Walmart and counted the number of customer at checkout counter when compared with Nordstrom?? This industry needs ppl – otherwise they will lose money by having empty seats (bad business). Its taking off – like it or not, full or no full. Its like saying – i have 50 seater plane – i will charge 2k$ for each seat. I will be profitable only after 25 seats full – but later there are no ppl to buy the rest of 25 seats to maximize my profits and I am with it because your first 25 travels gets the luxury treatment (“Nordstrom kind of treatment”).

    Sorry you had bad analogy

  • Pat

    I recently switched to delta from us airways, being a business traveler out of philadelphia, a us airways hub. Delta tickets are generally less expensive and I did not mind the connecting flights to save my company some money. I can and will easily revert back to us because of the direct flights that they offer without the mess of this new system delta has decided to go with. I will end up paying more in the end, but I cannot justify flying delta, and dealing with connections, for a sub par earning system. This might make sense had I lived in Atlanta, where I am sure the direct delta flights cost more than flying into the hub. I wouldn’t have a problem either if us did the same thing. In either case, us would be the best answer.

    Delta should revert their decision or cut out a lot of business to the monopoly that is the new American.

  • Gold Member

    Soon all those IB travelers will be flying in half empty planes… For a few months and then Delta will say the flight is no longer profitable and stop service to that destination. When you slap 90% of you loyal travelers in the face you cannot expect any love back.

  • former delta gold

    I’m based in NYC and will probably go United or AA moving forward. I think Brian’s point is that this is devaluation for everyone, not just “not profitable” customers. I travel on business. Sometimes I pay $300 for JFK-LAX, and sometimes pay $1,000 for the same flight. For the time I (or rather my company) pays $300, I’m not happy about the reduced mileage earned.

  • Brian K

    I’d been contemplating starting to use a Delta FF account on my int’l flights rather than banking everything over to Alaska, so much for that idea.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Doubtful. Think of why you went to DL instead of United. Because when you consider the level of so-called customer service you gave up to go to DL, you will be back in a flash.

    And what will you do when UA and AA move to the same type of system?

  • shay peleg

    Almost clicked it until i saw theonion.com

  • Al

    I switched 90% of my air travel to Delta because they alone serve my local airport (what a treat to get on a plane that is parked 10 minutes, instead of 100 miles, from my home). I have been really happy with the service. I’ve always considered Skymiles redemption to be awful when compared with UA or AA tho. Now it looks like it will get even worse. I’ll get more miles for my short-hauls because mile-for-mile they’re more expensive, but I will get hosed on long-hauls. Thought about shooting for Medallion status this year (loved 5 years of AA Gold), but now I don’t think it’s worth it. I’m guessing I’ll still book with Delta because of the convenience; I suppose there are many who are in my situation.

  • shay peleg

    The real problem is if they don’t make business class redemptions almost impossible. I am assuming a flyer such as yourself is only interested in business class?

  • Darth Chocolate

    I fly so much for business, I really do not care to get on a plane for fun. Most of my flights are International Business Class (employer paid). Last year was a “light” year, with only 4 long-haul trips. Last year I redeemed 9 economy tickets; I used only 1 of those. I usually wind up giving tickets away to relatives.

  • Cory

    I heard Peter Greenberg claim that if an airline flies its business/first class full, they’ll make money even if the economy class is empty. On the flip side, if they fill economy and don’t sell any biz/first tickets, they’ll lose money. It’s not difficult to understand the economics behind this move.
    Now, that said, frequent flyer programs seemingly have been tremendously lucrative in their own right. Didn’t Air Canada spin off its frequent flyer program as a stand alone entity? It’s possible the frequent flyer program will become less lucrative and won’t be quite the marketing juggernaut it has been. I would be shocked if this wasn’t revenue positive for Delta.

  • ATLDFlyer

    As a case study, look at the EWR-SIN direct flight. It was an all Business Class flight…no longer operating because it lost too much money. Long haul flights are a balance. Yes, airlines make a lot of money off of the business class passengers and little off of the economy passengers. BUT they can only afford the big planes DUE to the economy passengers. Without the economy passengers, the price per seat begins to skyrocket on a large plane.

  • Arthur

    Enough is enough. I’m diamond and fly only expensive over the water routes, for pleasure in first class that I pay a lot for. First they decide I cannot bring my wife into the club and now I net less mileage on my flights. I’m not sure where I’m going but it’s away from Delta and probably Amex. Loyalty has no value with Delta and it’s a shame because their flight crews have made it a pleasure to fly with them. Is there a major US carrier worth flying anymore?

  • -

    I think the expression on your face in the beginning frame of the video says it all.

  • Carl

    Delta already has by the far the weakest mileage program. Delta has long made the bet that (1) they have hub captives who largely must fly them, especially if they have a corporate contract or want a non-stop flight; and (2) that if they offer a superior flight experience, that is more important to customers than the mileage program. Now I think it’s questionable whether DL really has a superior flight experience, but they do have that reputation.
    This just takes gutting the weakest mileage program to a new level. We don’t yet know what will happen to redemptions, though I noticed they didn’t promise more availability at the lowest level (singular) but rather the lowest levels (plural) so they could count three of their new levels as low and effectively be raising the price of redemptions. But it is mileage accrual by flying that will be cut by these changes – particularly for customers who fly long haul. Today, if you purchase tickets at 10cpm (cents per mile), which is what their elite qualifying dollars are keyed to, you earn 10 base mileage points per dollar spent, and if you are gold elite you earn 100% bonus, so a total of 20 mileage points per dollar. So on a $500 round trip transcon fare (which is higher than many transcons) you might earn 10,000 miles today as a Gold member and 5000 as non-elite member. Under the new program, after taking out taxes you might earn around 2000 miles as non-elite and only 3200 as Gold (assuming a total of $100 of the fare is ticket tax and other fees.) So that is a huge earning devaluation. As it is, I don’t see the point of putting any spend on Delta credit cards since almost any other choice like Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG points are much more valuable.
    Here’s what we have to hope if we are not to see this spread to UA and AA: We need to make the case to UA and AA that appealing to passengers who value the mileage benefit is in their business interest – that it will drive incremental revenue to UA and AA and we’ll book higher fares on UA or AA because we value the extra points – it has to result in profitable yield to UA and AA, or else they will follow suit.

  • Miguel

    The new program isn’t even fair to the lucky 4%. As a frequent biz class high fare paying individual I’m capped at earning 75k per ticket. If it’s going to change to a revenue model then why cap me?? When I pay $12k for a ticket shouldn’t I reap the rewards associated with the spend? Delta is killing the incentive of the people they say they are tying to protect while wholy ripping the rug out from anyone gold or below.

  • YoureNuts

    What are you on about? I travel more than you (top 1% of Delta travelers), I assure you, and the only appeal of it is accumulating miles for travel with my family for leisure. And unless you’re flying Ryanair or Southwest, Delta isn’t significantly better in terms of on-time or any other performance. Maybe you should try another airline? Or perhaps your corporate travel department will force you to, given what they’ll have to spend with Delta.

  • WhiteChocolate

    The point is voting with your dollars and moving off any airline that implements this crazy scheme. Why aren’t you flying Virgin America or Jetblue?

  • Mike

    Perhaps complain to your congressman about the Delta monopoly? This must be illegal!

  • Steve

    Delta’s notification email regarding the 2015 changes is topped with the words, “A more rewarding loyalty program begins in 2015.”

    I have Delta Gold status, fly out of their MSP hub, short and long routes. I just plugged in my 2013 itinerary into their comparison calculator (http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/skymiles/2015-skymiles-program.html#earn). I learned that if I fly the same itinerary in 2015 I will be earning 25% LESS miles than this year! How is that a “more rewarding loyalty program”?

    Apparently, Delta’s cynicism knows no bounds.

  • Past Done

    I switched to AA this year because of Delta’s horrible award redemptions. I am Plat on Delta (stopped short of Diamond for rollover) and now Plat on AA after a challenge. If this news was actually good, I would have considered switching back because I am based out of Atlanta and I generally have enjoyed the Delta flight experience, consistent upgrades I used to get, and direct flights. This is horrible though. I am a business traveler and I fly every single week ATL-NYC, with some random third locations flown instead of coming home thrown in to achieve status. What Delta fails to realize is that though I am not paying for first class on these trips, as soon as I go somewhere over 3 hours, I can get first/business class. Last year, I had to go to India and flew Delta. They are alienating all of these people who have other people’s money to spend and fly luxury sporadically. It’s this middle group that I think is going to deliver the crushing blow to this strategy in the long run. If I am flying another airline and have/trying to achieve status with them, I am not likely to fly Delta for one or two luxury flights, especially with all of the other negative strikes against them.

  • RK

    Been thinking about this more and more and maybe it is time to give up on the whole loyalty thing all together. Maybe it is best to just be a free agent and fly the best fares that you can find. Get some good credit card that is carrier neutral that generates miles based on spending and use that for some trips, but otherwise give up. As a Delta Platinum, the number of upgrades that we get are less and less (way way below 50%), which I think is because living in a hub city, we are almost always flying to other hubs which is dominated by Diamonds. We are global entry, so can keep the tsa pre (if they take that away, I don’t know). The sky club is nice, but now no guests? I understand that this is a business and they need to make a profit, but as a customer I am also free to choose to take my business where I feel treated well.

  • Dave L

    Truly a very unfriendly decision by Delta, one that will likely backfire on them!

  • Mike

    I fly Detroit to Hong Kong 3 or 4 times per year. On any other airline that would get me halfway to a biz-class ticket . Under this new plan, I could spend well over $10K and spend 72 hours in their plans, and not even earn a domestic ticket… assuming that one could even be found in the system.

    I switched to Cathay Pacific 3 trips ago — mostly because of the frequent flyer program — and haven’t looked back.

  • dlt

    Oddly, my regular Delta flight (business class, DEN-JFK) will get a slight benefit from this change (if pricing is the same). I usually get 4890 miles for RT. This would give me 5200 RT. I guess not all flights would see this kind of gain though.

  • Jeff Topping

    I have been a loyal Delta member since 2007. You’re not overreacting to the new program. The changes are bogus and I’ve expressed my opinion several times both to Medallion agents on the phone and via email. I told them if these changes are implemented and are not reversed I will stop flying Delta and use all my miles and be done with them. I live in Dubai and according to the new calculator, where Gold members are given eight miles to the dollar spent, a flight from Dubai to Phoenix, today, based on a ticket of 1600 awards me 33,000+ miles under the current program. In 2015 that same ticket price and city pairings will award me 12,000+ miles. Say Goodbye To Delta!!!

    Jeff Topping
    Dubai

  • Erin L

    Wow, so I’ve been holding out on any transfer to other programs as I’m so deeply entrenched in Delta (elite status, personal and business cc, etc) but this is definitely making me rethink it all for next year. I just opened a Chase card to start earning points for other airlines and will continue my research. Thanks for your posts on this and LET’S GET THESE OPINIONS TO DELTA!!

  • Erin L

    I hope you don’t mind that I have taken this outline and sent another copy to them as well! Let’s all use it as a template and bombard Delta’s inbox!

  • GladwyneDavid

    I am considering my own status: long term platinum (even before Delta took over NorthWest). I am flying to south Asia in 2 weeks and have chosen to use USAirways and Emirates. In May I fly to Kenya and am considering no using SkyTeam. Sounds like it is time to bail on Delta.

  • KX

    Been Diamond for the past 3 years and I don’t get the upgrade all the time (prob @ 75%-80%). Prob won’t make Diamond this year and AA just made be Platinum via Challenge. I live in Cin., which will lose whatever hub status it had very soon. For those on AA/UA – what kind of upgrade success rates are you seeing (for Plat end Exec Plat)? I have 650K banked miles as well. Perhaps I’ll use those on Amex Membership Rewards, which used to be a relative ripoff compared to redeeming for travel. Perhaps not so much anymore.

  • Daniel

    I’m a Diamond member and these changes combined with the removal of upgrades on transcontinental flights will have me moving to American Airlines.

  • Liz

    What is the best way to contact Delta about this? I am Platinum and looked on the website contact page but nothing seems to fit for contacting them about this

  • Darth Chocolate

    Because neither airline serves where I want/need to go. I mean, I have flown JetBlue once or twice and it was fine, but do they have routes to Europe or Asia? Ditto for Virgin America. This works for me.
    But is free ticket really worth it if you have to up with poor customer service? To each his own.

    Go ahead and leave. You’ll be back once UA or AA starts the same thing.

  • Darth Chocolate

    What a load of BS. If you really do travel as much as you say you do, you are lying through your teeth if you claim to enjoy leisure travel and fly only for that. Unless, of course, your status makes you feel like Mr. Big Shot.

    I have flown US, AA, and UA and based on the service, I have vowed to NEVER fly UA again. Unless I am somehow stuck in a war zone and it is the only way out. Even then, it would be debatable.

  • Dan Plaut

    I have Delta gold medallion status. The changes in this program are forcing me to look to take my business elsewhere. I have enjoyed Delta as my local airport is JFK and the service has been very good recently, however I am not interested in be a subject of this huge devaluation.

  • SonjaWi

    Delta looses me next year as a client, and everybody I have asked among my friends has had the same attitude. Sure, the for profit flyers might get more miles, but I want to see Delta fly planes that are half empty. I for myself will rather pay extra to fly with another airline – I don’t appreciate getting slapped in the face. If they want to be the airline of the 1 %, then please have at it. Me, as small customer, can take my business to another place, apparently. And that’s just what I’ll do.I also will get rid of my Delta AMEX – my southwest card is already much more worth than the Delta version.

  • Diana

    Hi, I live in AMA, Texas. I cannot fly a seamless Delta Flight since they no longer serve my city of origin.

    Furthermore, by having to book two separate itineraries I.e., AMA to DFW RT on American and then DFW TO FRA RT on Delta I run into a baggage problem. Delta has no reciprocating baggage agreement with United, American, or Southwest (serving Amarillo). Therefore, I cannot check my bags through seamlessly. If I miss my flight on American back home…too bad..I have to buy another ticket or suffer a ticket change fee.

    Should I relinquish my Delta SKYMILES Card at this juncture…since obviously I won’t be buying any tickets on Delta in and out of Amarillo? I could still earn points using the Delta SKYMILES card on ordinary purchases but…I wont be earning miles buying a Delta ticket.

    Do you have any ideas or thoughts on this matter?

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  • Benjamin Chiang

    Brian, you are now on this petition page. Delta customers and medallion members, please sign: http://www.change.org/petitions/richard-anderson-rescind-2015-delta-skymiles-program-devaluation

  • Ted

    Buy the $50 pass and enjoy your flight.

  • Shannon McKennon

    Can we start some sort of media campaign to have Delta change this program like this:

    If the program is really being changed to benefit customers and improve
    our travel experiences with Delta, it should be changed so that the
    customer receives miles based on the higher of the two options for any
    given flight: either distance flown or the price of the ticket.

  • Les Stahlke

    This is a very sad day for all of us. I’ve been gold, platinum and diamond for 30 years, 15 years BEFORE Richard Anderson became CEO of Northwest! I’ll be sending him a You Tube letter with a link for all of you to see. Let’s get together on this and get them to change fro profits before people to people first.

  • Micke

    So the only ting we can do is not fly with Delta anymore. This Change is unbelivable unfair for the most travelers.Delta must Change that!

  • mnyakko

    I just ran a comparison of my 2014 actuals (after flight changes, etc) and 2014 booked (if I had flown exactly what I booked) against my 2014 theoretical (using the 2015 program). The results were that I would earn 12% less miles had I flown what I booked. I would have earned 14% less after figuring the re-routes.

    That told me a couple of things. First, the people hit the hardest will be those who are not Delta loyal but discount site loyal. And, frankly, those people not earning lots of miles and taking up more seats I find to be an acceptable thing to do in a loyalty program.

    Second, the next group that will be hard hit will be those taking advantage of a pricing snafu by booking consecutive round trips using a Multi-City booking. When I do that my savings are between 20%-50%. But now I won’t be earning the miles as strongly.

    Next, and for this I must remind people, the MQM program is not changing, when re-routing (either for delays or using the Same Day Confirmed) the act of taking “miles rich” flights while paying for direct or short trips will not carry the miles benefits EXCEPT when dealing with the less expenditure rewards of MQM. Yes, I took advantage of delays on my MSP-SFO by re-routing through SEA or ATL (or even a few times through JFK). But those are over.

    So what is left are the regular and loyal (and not the discount travel site loyal) who will earn less. Yup, it sucks. But understanding it helps to benefit from it and here is how I understand it. The groups of people I described above who will be really jerked by the new program will earn fewer miles and that means fewer people earning free tickets and our redemption a little more difficult (and costly…there seem to be fewer 20K or 30K routes than a few years ago). Yes, when partnered with the AmEx Reserve (which is worth it…30K MQM each year!!!) I earn a free domestic ticket every 3-5 weeks. Now it will be every 4-6 weeks but it will be (hopefully) cheaper to book those as the Travelocity/Expedia/Priceline people will be filling fewer free seats.

    Does that mean I like it? No. I am actually still oscillating. I have been on the verge of jumping to US Air and was going to make 2014 the last year with Delta. So I am still evaluating it. It still depends on the service from AmEx (which has been crappy lately) and from Delta.

    But what I am NOT assuming (though I won’t be surprised if it happens) is for the next change to be limiting or destroying the redemption side. Right now the earnings tightened up but it makes the miles more valuable. It makes the redemption side better (so far). Preparing for what might happen is wise, but acting based on what is not is foolish.

  • mnyakko

    In 2015 if you want your trip to earn the same miles, er, points, as in 2014 then here is the following miles/$ break even points.

    No status = 5 miles for each $1
    Silver = 5.6 miles / $1
    Gold = 4 miles / $1
    Platinum = 4.5 miles / $1
    Diamond = 4.8 miles / $1

    Just FYI. Sharing the data I have been compiling for myself before I decide if this is good or bad…for me.

  • michelle

    I Have been choosing to fly with Delta for 15 years now. They always have good customer service and I’ve never had any …major issues flying with them. I am very disappointed, however, that they are changing the way you earn miles with their skymiles program. Starting in January 2015 miles will be earned based on ticket price instead of distance traveled. So the majority of the time you will be earning close to less than half the miles you do now. This is the thanks loyal customers get from this company. I have an American Express card with them I’m going to cancel and next year I won’t be flying with Delta anymore. I hope other customers do the same so that other airlines don’t follow their new model. F*** you too Delta.

  • lz

    Couldn’t agree more with your comments. Not only is Delta slapping the average Medallion member in the face, but even in cases like mine, where I am a Diamond Medallion spending $30,000 per year, they now tell me that I am not worthy of an upgrade on the flight I fly most, NY to SFO? Really? Sorry, but I am sure American will love for me to bring my $30k to them this year, and that is exactly what I plan to do.

  • Christopher Roberts

    There is a quiet problem with Delta MQM system that is still there DO YOU KNOW MQMs can only be earned 10 Months a year Jan and Feb don’t EVER COUNT. as Per DELTA TODAY! so now in a year I lost the last 150 Miles to make my mediallion this year so I get “early boarding in zone one” and i still get to Pay for bags and lose my 2X miles all because they DO NOT make public that a delta year is 10 months! Spread this around. Year = 10 Months in the Delta dictionary.

  • mnyakko

    I watch my balances like a hawk, I check them every few days and I keep track of what I am expecting with each coming week’s travel. I have never experienced a drop or any missing miles.

    The ONE time I did not get the miles I expected was in 2012 with some crap about only getting credit for the flight I purchased not the re-routed flight I actually flew. I didn’t press it (it was a lousy 200 MQM). But that was the only time I didn’t get miles for flights I have flown.

  • Gold thisyear

    Another negative Delta skymiles move – they’ve eliminated automatic medallion upgrades on transcon flights LAX-JFK and others… the explanation I got tonight was delivered by an unapologetic agent: it’s a different class of service because we put in lie flat seats… so we’re not offering complimentary upgrades.

    Really? As if previous upgrades weren’t to a different class of service???

    They’re driving me back to AA.

  • Addis Ababa

    I just flew Delta back from Central America, the FA asks which complimentary snack item I wanted, I say peanuts, so he tries to hand me a pack of peanuts. It slips from his hand and falls on to the floor and under someone’s seat. The FA then spends the next 60 seconds (I counted, it’s a surprisingly long time) on his hands and knees looking for the fallen pack. We’re talking a tiny pack with 15 peanuts, max. He couldn’t let it go and give me new pack. He finally finds it and hands it to me, and I smile at him and said it’s OK, I don’t need to eat the peanuts after all, since it looks like Delta really needs the savings. He looks at me like I am crazy. To me this incident exemplifies everything that Delta represents. From what the media tell me, they are making money hand over fist, and yet they have their employees living in terror of losing a single frigging pack of peanuts. Go figure. And yes, my company paid more than $500 each way for my 3.5-hour flight.

  • Soniya

    I am a Platinum on Delta and I was enjoying the benefits over past two years while flying with Delta and liked their service. However the 2015 program is definitely a disappointing. Since I am Platinum I am going to keep traveling this year and rack up the points and just redeem them next year. Next year I will search for a mileage match program with some other airlines – probably just use another airline in the same Sky team network and just dump Delta’s program… I was hoping to become a million miler with them in about 4-5 years from now but well I am dropping that in favor of going for a more rewarding program.

  • martin

    I have been Delta Diamond for years. As a new york customer, there are now no automatic upgrades to SFO, LAX or SEA. This was the last straw for me. I wrote Delta and told them I was going to American. As CEO of my company, we have many employees, and I have made sure Delta will be penalized with our entire company’s business going elsewhere. Delta has created enormous ill will — and they won’t get another chance with me.

  • MattH

    I’ve been a diamond for a while. I typically fly four flights per week. Just finished calculating how many miles I will accumulate next year, based upon last years flights, and it was much less than I expected (even as a diamond member). I don’t really care how much I spend, and I wouldn’t have any problem spending $25K in flights, but delta can kiss my grits if they think I’m going to be a loyal flyer next year and earn less than I do now. I guess I’m going back to United after the last 8-10 years with Delta. Might not be a bad thing anyway. You can hardly find a seat in the SkyClub these days. Heck, sometimes there’s not even a SkyClub around. So I guess the good news is I can start using some of my 1.2M skymiles in the bank, and there should be plenty of seating available come 2015.

  • http://www.trinityqatar.com NanciTTQ

    Jeff – I live in USA, but my business is Doha-based. I’ve been a Platinum for a few years now, but am looking to jump ship now that my miles are being devalued. Is One World a better bet for our Doha/Dubai travel?

  • LB

    So Delta will now be rewarding US businessmen who take $$ out of the American workers’ pockets and put it in to overseas workers’ pockets. How disgusting. My weekly business travel $$ are now going into another airline’s pocket. Just cancelled all my Delta flights for the next 2 months and rebooked on other carriers. I do not do business with Un American companies.

  • jbc

    Thanks for this info. I am a low frequent flyer. A few business trips a year. A few family trips a year. I think I’m gonna junk the Delta frequent flyer card – just not worth the hassle. I have a CapOne no-fee Venture credit card. I’ll work with that I guess, and consider even turning that in for one that gives me cash back instead of miles. If they are devaluing miles, then it makes no sense to watch them disappear into valueless points.

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