Delta Continues to Chisel Away At SkyMiles Program- Announces Mileage Accrual Based on Spend

by on February 26, 2014 · 70 comments

in Delta

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Delta has been devaluing their SkyMiles program for years by increasing the amount of miles you need for award tickets to outrageous levels on some routes. There have been rumors (that I wrote about in 2012) about them going to a revenue based program and it appears that they are very closed to announcing drastic changes to the program beginning in 2015.

Delta announced today that you’ll likely be earning less SkyMiles than you normally do based on a new revenue based earning program. While full details are yet to be released, CNN reports that the base earning will be 5 miles per dollar spent and it will increase with elite status. So bottom line- you will no longer earn miles based on how far you fly, which is a fundamental change for a legacy frequent flyer program (Southwest/JetBlue/Virgin America currently have revenue based programs and, to me, they take the fun out of being able to maximize and leverage your points for great value. Apparently the amount of SkyMiles you’ll earn in the new program will increase by your elite level, but even at the highest levels you may still earn less miles than in today’s program, plus you also have to take into account that there are two more award chart devaluations to come making those miles even less valuable than they are today. 

So 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. 

I’ll wait to judge until I see details, but basically this will be horrible for most consumers, except those who pay exorbitant amounts for their flights may see a slight increase. But even if your company foots the bill for expensive business class seats, I urge you to not be swayed into thinking Delta values you more. Remember: SkyMiles are among the least valuable frequent flyer currency in existence. You may do much, much better flying another airline whose miles are valuable. Delta blocks all international first class awards and has an atrocious website- not all airlines are the same.

Mainstream Misunderstanding
I see the initial reaction by the mainstream media to be “well they’re catering to their best customers, so that might actually make sense”, but I think there needs to be a more pro-consumer voice warning that this is actually just another slash to a program that has been decaying for years. I wonder if those high-spending business travelers also love the new increased SkyClub fees and inability to bring free guests. Or that Delta blocks them from redeeming for international first class on partner airlines? And even if your company is paying for your business class fares, Delta makes upgrading your partner/friend/spouse exorbitant if they want to come along on one of those international business trips. Or that Delta no longer gives complimentary upgrades on transcontinental flights. So basically, I think you need to take a high-level approach to analyzing SkyMiles against other programs before coming to the simple conclusion that this change is positive for business travelers (let alone anyone else, because I so believe that airlines should also value non-full fare paying passengers).

I used to be a Diamond Medallion and have since dropped to Platinum, but have focused instead on building Executive Platinum on American Airlines. After hearing this news I’m extremely glad I’ve dropped loyalty to Delta, because I prefer to accrue miles in programs that are also rewarding for the consumer. I personally do not believe that loyalty should be one way. However, I do understand why people continue to remain loyal to Delta, especially for those who are hub-captives and don’t have the same route network. However, the only way Delta might stop devaluing their program is if they see a  loss in business and if you never voice your concerns or actually take action, then you’re partially to blame for the devaluation.

A Neverending Devaluation
In addition to jaw-dropping award levels (which will be even worse after their two devaluations to come this year), Delta also recently announce the Medallion Qualifying Dollar program that adds another hoop to jump through to attain elite status- US SkyMiles members not only need to accrue Medallion Qualifying Miles to achieve elite status but also hit MQD spend (10 cents per mile, so Platinum Medallion reuiqres $7,500 spent on Delta ticketed flights in addition to accruing 75,000 MQMs. Members can be excluded form the MQD program if they spend 25k or more ontheir Delta Amex, but there’s an opportunity cost to spending that much on a Delta Amex that only earns 1x on all purchases vs. cards like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold that earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, 2 points per dollar on US supermarkets, and one point per dollar on other transactions and groceries and the Barclaycard Arrival that offers 2x on all purchases. So even though you may be able to hit that $25k in spend, think about the points youre leaving on the table by not using better earning cards.

Anyway, the full details are supposed to be released at 5am Eastern Time and I’m about to board a 9 hour (non-Delta) flight from Honolulu to Newark, so I’ll do an updated post when I land- after I wake up hoping this was all a bad dream and that no other boneheaded airlines match this policy!

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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  • baccarat_guy

    Most “high-spending business travelers” just don’t care. The non-mileage obsessed person just wants to get from point A to point B in the most convenient (and timely manner). Hey, I love the AA ExPlat program, but I live in the Netherlands, and my main route is AMS-BOS-AMS. Many have said, why don’t you switch to AA it’s so much better for upgrades, redemption and mileage earning. (I agree, of course). But, then, I look at one of my ordinary “run of the mill” flights from BOS-AMS that is blocked at 7+ hours, but often arrives in under 6 hours. So, I get into AMS early; and can go on with my life (and my day). If I chose OneWorld (AA) I’d be connecting through LHR on a flight that would also be blocked as around 7+ hours and would probably arrive at LHR early (most of the time). I’d then have a longer lay-over (since arriving early does you no good, when you have a connection). Basically, my point, is that most of us can’t give up a half-day for better mileage redemption. If I lived in the UK, I’m sure I would be OneWorld (AA) focused. If I lived in Germany, I’m certain I would be Star Alliance focused. But, alas, I live in the Netherlands. Try getting home quickly (and nonstop) from PTY, or GRU. Anyway, most of the world operates this way. On the plus side, Delta operations and service are great. and, no complaints that it’s basically 1-2-1 in BusinessElite on (almost) all of the international wide body flights.

  • thepointsguy

    Agree that there’s a premium for nonstop but disagree that business travelers don’t care about miles/points and recognition. While you may be hub captive- many aren’t and I do think the differentiator is a loyalty program. Also- as AMS based elite you’re lucky you don’t have MQDs but Boston based elites flying on BOS-AMS KLM issued tix get 0 MQDs and potentially no/lower medallion status as a result

  • baccarat_guy

    In my ex-Pat world, I seem to be the only one obsessed with miles&points (though, a very small sample). I am fortunate, in that my BusinessElite fares ex-AMS are much lower than ex-BOS (or other US cities); and it’s much easier to upgrade with instruments (or €) ex-AMS. I’ve found ways to make SkyMiles work for me, but more so because our life fits the SkyMiles redemption model (i.e. redeeming awards under 4 weeks before departure; when Low Level awards become available). MQDs are hardly an issue, IMO, since US based travelers just need a US based AMEX product with a very nominal spend threshold (and no limit on achieving top-tier Diamond Medallion, unlike UA). FWIW, even though MQDs don’t count for me, I prefer to book through Delta channels (006 tickets) as I get better service from Delta vis-a-vis flight changes and operational issues. There would be no reason for a Boston based flyer to ticket through KLM, or at least, no reason that I can see. But, I do agree, AMS is an extreme case of “hub-captive.” For those who fly (mostly) international, fares are relatively high; so these changes will have a minimal effect. (perhaps, even positive). For low fare domestic flyers, they are screwed. But, everyone has known things were just going to get worse with Delta. Why a 100% domestic and low fare flyer would still be will Delta is beyond me. Delta has made their intentions very clear.

  • ohheyitsrenee

    As someone who mostly flies RJs on (cheap) short-haul flights, this makes me very glad that I just got the Southwest Premier and Barclaycard Arrival. I think my Delta Amex will be getting a lot of rest soon. Thanks for the heads up (as always)! It’s like Delta is trying to lose loyal customers. Or is the general Delta flyer less miles/points conscious than I think?

  • James

    It didn’t seem clear to me, maybe the announcement will get into more detail, is this going to be the new policy just for earning regular miles or does this change MQM’s i.e. how one gets status and maintains Medallion level?

  • Tyler Brown

    This makes certain routes drop by more than 100% in earned miles. For instance, I fly from JNB-ATL-ABQ which earns me ~19,000 round trip in coach. Now, at 5 points/$, I’ll be seeing around 8,000 round trip. Pathetic, Delta!

    As baccarat_guy said, it puts some of us in a rock and a hard place. Fly SAA via NYC and increase my trip time by 8 hours and get worse service for more points, or suck it up and take the mileage hit for more convenience and better service?

  • Ralf Klein

    Delta said that only SkyMiles are affected not MQMs. The way how one earns Medallion level does not change.
    That does make sense somehow when they argue that most hotel loyalty programs work the same way. You earn your status based on stays/nights, but you earn points based on spend.
    What bugs me is I can’t see how award charts change next year. We won’t see them until somewhen late in 2014.

  • Lantean

    is SAA service that bad? i have always wanted to try them…

  • Lee

    Not a bad dream, TPG. Just got the email and read the new rules. It doesn’t change MQMs, but since Elite status is relatively meaningless, who cares. Hopefully, AA or United will see this as an opportunity to pounce on Delta Diamonds!

  • michael

    Let’s get #boycottdelta trending on twitter!

  • pwc122

    This is the kind of incisive analysis that makes it worth wading through some of the redundant credit card link lists on this blog.

    I haven’t flown Delta once in the last three years. Their thinking seems to be that they only want hub captive high spending customers and no one else. Thankfully, I have other options.

  • baccarat_guy

    You hit the nail on the head. That’s my main problem. I’ve known for years I could do much better than Delta vis-a-vis miles&points (and aspirational redemptions like international first class); but when you fly 15-20 transatlantic roundtrips per year (and some trips are only 3 days), it’s just really tough to increase your travel time significantly. These days, you just have to be lucky to live in a competitive market, where you have multiple good nonstop (or favorable connection) options.

  • Santastico

    Delta is the cancer of all airlines!!!!
    For all that I hate this airline, this may be working on my way. I still did not have time to digest all the buzz around the changes but as a MSP based flyer who changed my flight schedule after changing a job, I am the typical passenger that spends a lot of money to fly very few miles on Delta today. My typical weekly flights are to IND, OMA, RDU, BMI, DSM which give me very few miles (sometimes they are 500 miles round trip) but cost always around $1000 per ticket. Yes, tks to Delta I pay $1200 to fly MSP-OMA-MSP and earn 563 miles round trip. My other flight schedule is paid business class to Europe which also does not earn huge mileage compared to flying to Asia or Brazil but still costs around $7000. Thus, Delta may be doing me a favor since I spend a lot of money to earn very few miles with them.

  • Tyler Brown

    It’s actually not horrible and, truthfully, I’ve never flown their transatlantic direct flight but most of my friends who have repeatedly used both Delta and SAA direct from JNB vote Delta every time. Delta only gives 1 checked bag vs. 2 bags on that flight, however. Delta’s flight crew is supposedly a bit more attentive, the plane is a bit cozier, and the food a bit better.

    The real problem with SAA are pre/post-service issues like lost luggage, reimbursement for cancelled flights, dealing with a flight change, etc.

  • NoHopeDetroit

    Wow, just had a look at the new chart Delta just posted for 2015. Depressing. As a Diamond Medallion, my Detroit-Beijing trip has been earning me close to 30K miles a trip…..that is now cut to 13K if I get a $1200 economy ticket. But they say the miles are going to be worth more because they are going to make it easier to redeem? Wow, I highly doubt that. Delta has to have the worst mileage redemptions in the business. Trying to find a domestic award ticket under 35-40K is almost impossible. Living in Detroit, I have no other choice unless I want to spend hours changing flights in cities and missing connections. And just when I thought they could not possibly devalue this program anymore…’s another sad day as a Delta Medallion member.

  • SL

    Does anyone have information on how Miles can be earned via AMEX Delta branded cards? Another words currently I earn most of my Delta miles via the AMEX DL RES Card, with the $1 spent on everyday purchases equal 1 mile earned. Will that change?
    I can’t seem to find if that would change under the “new way”.

  • RDMM

    Just got the e-mail from Delta! Terrible news! As a PM that flies most of the time international coach, this news a huge reduction in miles. I’ll do what I should have done long time ago. Moving to AA.

    The only good news on their e-mail is the new search engine and one way award. But not enough!

  • CMH322

    I got the email this morning, and as someone who has attained status via the business travel over short distances medium, I can’t say that I am too turned off by this.

    Since I connect over short distances, I would lose a few hundred miles per week based on my average flight cost and the routing I have. I’ll be curious to see how much low award space they’ll be opening up, as they are emphasizing that point, though the only award level they are stating right now is 12,500 one-way (welcome to the 20th century), and 25,000 r/t for domestic economy.

    I can see the points of many though on the international flight accrual. That seems like that is a big hit to earning.

    My last question mark is in regards to the transcon travelers. Delta has been doing a lot to tout their transcon service and to bulk up NYC, SEA, LAX, etc. I feel that this move could counteract any strides they have made on that front. Anyone elses thoughts?

    Finally, for a Midwest business traveler between two medium-sized cities, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I do not see “ORD” on my weekly boarding passes. I’ll probably stick around for 2015 if I am still on the road.

  • RDMM
  • ATLDflyer

    Bye Delta! I have been loyal to you for so long. But as an international flyer (you know, the ones who bring in your highest profit margins), this kills me. I’m about to fly ATL-MNL which will net me around 35k miles this year. Next year…12k.

    Please, everybody, e-mail Delta now. Mention your status and tell them how horrible this change is. Unlike the MQD change which could benefit those elite by offering them a higher chance at upgrades, this change does not help anyone. Only a backlash from their loyal flyers can help them see the mistake they have made!

  • RK

    I just read this and am floored how bad it is. I went to the web site and typed in some typical flights I take and even as a platinum member I lose 50% or more. I am ready to give up on Delta. My wife and I live in SLC and are loyal members, maxing out DL credit cards to get MQMs and all. Sure, MQMs aren’t affected, but this is crazy. Maybe it is time to give up this foolishness and explore other options. Being a HUB city is nice for a lot of trips, but I must say, 75% or more of our trips take us to another HUB. I’m not sure that would be any difference with one of the other airlines.

    I’ve heard that if you ask, you can get high level status on another airline if you change. A long time ago we were UL customers, but that was before the DL hub. I don’t know what to do. Flying isn’t as much fun these days (even on those rare upgrades, even as a Platinum member).

    I think that we need a new strategy, I just don’t know what that is.

    Big huge sigh.

  • steve w

    Well, they did drop the bomb and I got my email this morning. Nine miles per dollar spent for Platinum, five miles per dollar for lower.

    The credit card route isn’t quite as bad as you portray, if one reaches the thresholds. With the Delta Reserve, if you spend 30k you end up with 2 points per dollar; 30k for the initial spending, then another 30k points (of which 15k are MQM) for the bonus.

    This was how I finally got to platinum, and may soon be the only way most people can achieve or maintain medallion status. Whether or not one would want to…..there’s the rub.

  • deltatounited

    This is ridiculous! DM for 4 years and this is treatment I get. Delta flyers were more or less ok with the change in business class awards, then the mqd was introduced, but this is over the top and will cause me to leave. This will basically hurt flyers who are not near hubs and are forced to connect longer distances. Delta, you won’t need those large 757s any more out of SNA. When you lose all those medallions who live in Orange County, all you need is those md88s. United, here I come.

  • Chris

    I decided to drop DL at the end of 2013 and closing my DL Platinum Amex next month. I am switching to AA but still be able to enjoy SkyTeam Alliance benefits as elite plus through another airline. Adios DL!

  • Nathaniel

    Honolulu to Newark? I’m sorry.

  • trey

    if they switch to revenue based earning it will only be fair if a revenue based redemption follows (a la Southwest). a complete mileage redemption chart or formula has to be in order to make sense. you have to spend $5000 just to get a free domestic roundtrip?? come-on!

  • spendarella

    Wow. Delta is definitely setting themselves apart for the rest of the industry. Hopefully this trend does not continue. Their CFO needs a check up from the neck up.

  • Ven

    Damnit Delta, all this is going to do is push more high level elites/mileage runners to AA/US and United. That will cause them to either a)not have as many upgrades available or b)change their programs to match Delta

  • Chris P

    I’m sure Delta had done some risk analysis on this before put it in writing. I am wondering if this would be the industry trend we will see from now on. I fly UA for years and honestly, i would love to see this change so i wont have to get crunched with credit card based Premier Silver members who doesnt fly or pay higher ticketing classes.
    This will re-balance the elite market to the qualify people. It might kick me out of my current status as well but i know i will get more by having less people in the group.

  • Danny

    Anybody have any experience with calling another airline and asking for a status match?

    I’m a Delta PM and I flew about 100 paid flight segments last year. I’m in NYC so I’m not stuck with one airline based on hub. If I could get status matched to AA, I would jump in half a heartbeat. If that’s impossible, it will be tougher to leave my status.

  • Travis

    Some might say that this is good for business travelers, particularly those who book business class tickets on international flights. Not true. Per Delta’s T&Cs,

    “Miles earned per segment will be calculated
    based on a prorated amount of the total ticket price eligible for
    mileage accrual and will not be subject to minimum mileage accrual.
    Each passenger will earn a maximum of 75,000 miles per reservation,
    inclusive of any Medallion mileage bonuses or class-of-service bonuses.”

    So basically, a DM has no incentive to purchase a ticket over $6,818 (75k divided by 11 miles per dollar spent). Or if the DM is forced to purchase a ticket over $6,818 because no other options exist, the DM is leaving miles on the table. And sure, you could say that 75k miles is a lot of miles (at best, that’s two domestic economy tickets), but it still sounds like Delta is finding a way to screw over even their highest paying loyal customers along with the mileage runners.

  • GD

    Loyalty went from Frequent FLYING to Frequent SPENDING, like flying is not painful enough.

  • BellevueMike

    Delta miles can be used for Alaska air flights. Does anyone know how those miles translate against a standard Alaska award? I have 200K Alaska miles and 700K Delta miles. For instance, if it requires 40K miles to fly from Seattle to Dallas and back on Alaska, will it be roughly the same if you use Delta miles to fly the Alaska route? Give or take?

  • James Still

    Sky Miles has become Sky Dollars. Delta is being surprisingly transparent about their priorities and as a business model this makes it clear what it values and what it doesn’t value. The question(s) for me (and I suspect for many of the folks reading The Points Guy is “What makes Delta worth it?” For the past nearly 20 years (Northwest Platinum before the merger and now Delta Platinum/Diamond) I’ve wrestled with that question and always came to the conclusion that Delta was worth it. With this latest policy change that is one more slap in the consumer’s face, it seems clear my loyalty to Delta will need to finally change. This is reciprocal. Delta has long ago pulled its loyalty toward customers. I’d be interested in hearing from other frequent travelers about what other airlines we should start to explore, for real. Who wants our business? Who wants our loyalty? Maybe The Points Guy will do a much-needed essay about this stuff.

  • Kathy S

    Man, I think even calling them Sky Pesos at this point is being kind.

    Question: If you’re hub-bound (I’m in ATL, so extremely hub-bound), is there value in shifting loyalty to Alaska? Can I earn Alaska points on any Delta flight and would those count toward status on Alaska? Is any level of status recognized on Delta? I don’t know a whole lot about the ins and outs of that relationship in spite of skimming your recent posts about them. I am GM on Delta and rarely get upgraded, so losing that perk wouldn’t be the end of the world for me, though boarding in Sky is something that’s important to me (even though in ATL 3/4 of every plane is Sky or Zone 1).

  • Kathy S

    *Meant to write is any level of Alaska status recognized/honored on Delta.

  • Jules

    HNL-EWR in BizFirst UA? Have a good flight, say hi to the flight crew, good group usually.

  • Mike Furgason

    Hub-captive seems to describe me in Cincinnati. Do you think switching my card spending to a fixed-value system is going to be the way to go. Already have a barclaycard arrival for my non-categorical, might ditch my PRG since I was primarily using it to get delta miles. Going to redeem most of them this summer, so now might be a good time to switch my strategy.

  • ATLDflyer

    Chris, this doesn’t affect MQM’s. Just what you get from flying (the miles). The only way it could benefit you the way you say is if there is a mass exodus of flyers from Delta

  • Garrett

    I’m okay with sitting around and letting the dust settle on this one. Based in LA I have my choice, but when it comes down to it I would rather just get where I’m going on time and happy. Delta usually does that for me. I don’t think I’ve ever actually redeemed miles for myself anyway (use for family/companions).

  • DL-2-MM

    Do a mixture of international and domestic travel and took last 4 months of trips. I ran each trip through the new / old mileage calculator and EVERY ONE was significantly lower at least 20% lower.
    You could see this coming as soon as MQD’s came up and it is all about the amount you spend. Basically Delta is saying if you have the audacity to find a cheap fare on our airline we are going to punish you for it.

  • Darrin Earl

    Finally, a commenter in a similar situation to me and my team! The changes are ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE for discount coach flyers, but perhaps helpful for those of us flying on the company dime… a quick look shows I’d be much better off last year with earning under the new formula.

    That said, I had the same reaction about MQDs “What’s the big deal?”

    Let’s all recall that Delta just had THE MOST PROFITABLE YEAR FOR AN AIRLINE, EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, so they clearly think they know how to run a business.

    The crux of the issue, as TPG pointed out, is that the changes make things “less fun”. He’s right, absolutely. They also make things way more confusing. They are also going to make Delta more money, at least in the short term. None of these help 95% of customers, but we’ll see if it actually impacts their business, or if the other airlines follow, and cement Delta’s ‘leadership position’ in being negative to most of their customers.

    If you hate the changes, by all means, vote with your feet/butts/wallets, and try out someone else… and hope they don’t follow soon!

  • Darrin Earl

    Hopefully they announce them earlier than Q4… a Q3 release will make it easier to decide to status challenge and switch.

    Of course, I expect United to copy this and alter us in Q2 of their new earning formula…

  • Darrin Earl

    “Why a 100% domestic and low fare flyer would still be will Delta is beyond me. Delta has made their intentions very clear.”

    This captures things perfectly, if you add on that folks chasing cheap international mileage runs and mistake fares to this.

    There are much better programs (currently) for these types of fliers… and from the reactions here (and elsewhere) clearly the audience for blogs like this are typically falling into these categories, and not the paid business travel bucket that Delta is clearly aiming their program at.

  • Raheel Gauba

    Now now everyone, lets all relax… It’s just a marketing campaign for American Airlines that they paid Delta for – and it seems like its working ;-)

  • Viki

    I think this will actually be a benefit for me. Company pays for a lot of expensive last minute, one way tickets. I really like Delta, and I fly them all the time. As a Diamond, I feel I get treated pretty well. I avoid almost everyone else. They do have my loyalty, but I see how this could be a negative for most flyers, though. They are going to have to fix their website and lower their mileage redemption quite a bit to make people want to stay.
    I would expect with this rollout, that they are going to have to offer a bunch of promotions at the onset, to temper the anger that people will have about their plan getting worse.

  • Gameboy213

    Wow. Unreal. As a GM this is going to be thought to keep up. The Reserve card helps me but wow. They are crushing this program.

  • Santiago

    I wish I had read this back when I choose SkyMiles as my SkyTeam frequent flyer option… Should have gone with Flying Blue as I thought of first, but I was foolishly seduced by the miles not expiring since I didn’t flew much on SkyTeam…

  • anon

    It was fun while it lasted- 4 years of plat with delta – now I’m 100% gone.. Hey Pointsguy massive props on the blog!! – Would love to see another update on best FF Programs to status match disgruntled Gold/Plat/Diamond delta members for 2015/16. I am thinking Alaskan – but fav part of plat delta was using skyclub bus lounges on intl flights…

  • anon

    skyclub should read skyteam

  • Fred

    you should change your dog’s name from “Miles” to “Dollars spent”, as Jeff suggested (

  • Matt

    I feel your pain. I’m in Cincy as well. Although, they have basically killed our hub. We are now HINO (Hub In Name Only).

  • Bob

    I think he’s returning from his Australia trip.

  • Sick of Delta

    If I understand this correctly my mileage multiplier for Gold will go from 100% to 60% right?
    Today: 100 miles = 200 miles (not MQM)
    2015: $10 spent = 16 miles (not MQM)

    This on top of the fact that most of my routes cost less than the equivalent miles.

    I left Continental when they started similar crap. I have the luxury of using multiple airlines so will look around again. Delta should be prepared for a big drop in booking come 1/1/2015.

  • VFZ

    This actually works out well for some FO’s who spend a decent amount on tickets but don’t fly enough to make it to gold and get the %100 bonus on flown miles.

  • Jordan Woods

    Just left Delta earlier this year for United based on how terrible Delta is for coverage in Asia. NONE of their Asia partners garner ANY type of miles with Delta, only Delta branded or code-shared. I’m so glad I did this, now I just have to spend my 300k+ miles before they are devalued into the nothingness…

  • Mike Furgason

    Yeah, Delta still has the best rates/availability for non-stop economy fares to each coast, but with their mileage devaluation and now this, I’m starting to think that loyalty to them isn’t really worth it. Punish me for finding the best deal with lower mileage earning potential? How is that supposed to make me want to stay your customer? I thought the whole idea was to offer me better value for the exclusive privilege of serving my transportation needs.

  • Jordan Woods

    Each airline differs. I recently chose to jump to United because the Star Alliance program in Asia is vastly superior to any other partnership. United has also become quite price competitive in the US. That being said, Delta has always been the most flexible airline. I started flying them years ago because they were so good at adjusting my flights when I would miss one due to meetings that overran the boarding schedule. If customer service is the only thing they have now, that just isn’t enough for me. I’ll take United’s crap service so I can get more miles accrued for various destinations.

  • Jordan Woods

    This is very interesting. They have been aligning more of their fleet for the short haul CRJ planes that increase profits and do more trips. It’s a gamble that they will increase these types of flights/customers and simultaneously decrease long domestic flights and international. hmmm, very interesting strategy indeed.

  • Matt C.

    I fly Delta and credit my miles to Alaska. For me, it’s the best of both worlds (more route flexibility while still earning in a good program that values me as a customer).

    -Yes, you can (currently) earn both elite qualifying (status) miles and redeemable miles with Alaska for Delta flights. It’s 50k combined Alaska/partner miles to get to MVP Gold, which is a sweet spot for perks.
    -Delta recognizes MVP status and grants early boarding and complimentary upgrade privileges; however, you’ll be at the bottom of the list for upgrades. MVP Gold gets SkyPriority boarding, so that meets your desire.
    -Alaska miles are much more valuable than Delta’s, as TPG has pointed out before (redeemable on partners like Emirates, for example).

  • Matt C.
  • Kathy S

    Thanks, Matt. Very helpful, and certainly something to think about as I plan for the latter half of 2014 (I should requalify for Delta GM by June/July) and 2015.

  • doniverson

    Platinum not shining

  • doniverson

    I am very frustrated with the new mileage program for 2015. This will mean about 1/3 of the miles that I have typically gotten. I fly to Asia four times per year. This is just another slap in the face. Little by little, Delta has been chipping away at us since we were forced to come over from NWA. Has anyone seen anything about bonus miles? Are all bonus miles being taken away? As a platinum I received 100% bonus. Will there be any bonus attached to the miles earned by dollars spent?

  • delta-slapped

    Dear Mr. Anderson, I know your company has calculated the possible liability in continuing to chip away at your loyal customers rewards programs. I have been loyal to Delta, but that is about to change. As the CEO, you make decisions based on that which benefits your company. That is your job, and let me congratulate you. Now, I am also forced to calculate, investigating other airlines as my potential primary carrier for the 90,000 miles I fly per year. Included in my assessment will also be the American Express fee I will be able to save when I say “good-bye” to Delta. Delta will survive so long as they meet the needs of the vast majority of their clients. Your company simply no longer caters to fliers like me. I have to do what is best for me. That is my job.

  • DL Diamond

    I just received an email from Delta. 39 independent lounges around the world will no longer welcome Elite Plus members traveling in economy. DL said the lounges were converting to business lounges, when in fact, DL decided to stop paying for access for Elite Plus (Diamond and Platinum) traveling in economy class.

  • Álex R. Vargas

    Here is a letter I have just now sent to Delta:

    Dear Sir or Madam at Delta Air Lines Management,

    I just want to mention that after being faithful to Delta for the last 5 years, of which, the last 3 I have been a Platinum Medallion, I have come to the conclusion that our loyalty has turned into a one-way street, namely from me towards Delta only. The changes in mileage accrual have done nothing but to take the fun out of the qualification process, deterring my willingness to continue to fly Delta.

    I just want to be very clear that I’ll be leaving to American Airlines, where I’ll continue my loyalty until, God forbid, one day they decide to follow Delta’s steps in terms of mileage accrual.

    I also want to be very clear that I LOVE Delta and I wish I were happy now as I’ve been until these changes were announced. That’s the only reason I’m leaving: lack of appreciation.

    Perhaps I am indeed a NON-VALUABLE CUSTOMER, as my flying is usually on long international legs; and yes, I am price-conscious. But you can imagine how negatively Delta’s new policy affects me.

    One thing I do tell you! If Delta ever decides to be loyal to me again, I give you my word that I’ll come back.

    After my upcoming flight to YUL, I will use up all the accumulated miles that I have (probably buying tickets for friends and family) and I’ll move on to American, where I’ll pay overall higher prices for my travels, but where in the long run those extra dollars spent will benefit not only American Airlines, but me as well.

    I wish you the best and I leave with hope that soon enough Delta Management will put things into perspective and realize that loyalty goes, indeed, both ways.

    Best regards,

    Álex R. Vargas
    Platinum Medallion

  • Deltavictim

    Choice benefit ripoff alert. Transferred mileage program to Delta in 2013. Earned platinum status near end of year. Received award letter stating my choice benefit included (4) systemwide upgrades (the reason I switched to Delta). Applied for my award in 2014, Delta took it away. Said sorry doesn’t exist anymore. Have others been ripped off? Considering class action suit with Chicago law firm.

  • Legal Permit to Carry

    For me this is great. I fly short hops throughout the midwest 1-3 times per week (earning status through hops is a complete pain). That being said — my flights are you pretty expensive because I book last minute.

    I just took a flight from CLE to MSP and there were more than 50 Medallion members on a tiny plane. It was well over half the plane. That needs number to decrease and I think this is how we do it….

  • jbrunjes

    I just checked my miles for qualification it shows I flew 36000 miles but only spent 718 dollars. I flew from wilmington nc to Atlanta on delta then atl to Singapore on Air France. The site says I need to spend another 1500 dollars to qualify. So what they are actually do is only giving money credit on delta flights. But mile credit on code share. But you have to have both the mileage and the money spent to get the preferred status. As far as this guy is concerned by by delta. Hello anyone not trying to pull this crap.

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