Delta Decreases Mileage Earning Structure For Unpublished Fares

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Starting September 1, 2012, Delta is decreasing the amount of miles and Medallion Qualifying (elite) Miles that flyers on unpublished fares receive. Before you panic, this probably doesn’t affect most of you: tickets purchased through Delta.com or your corporate travel agency will be unaffected. However, if you book the following types of tickets, you may be in for a rude awakening:

  • Student fares
  • Consolidator fares
  • Flights included as part of a cruise package
  • Discounted tour packages
  • Group fares

I won’t list all the fare class rules here, but I will just mention that several First/Business fare classes will earn just 100% MQM’s instead of normal class of service bonuses, and that some discounted economy class fares like Q, K, L, U, T and E will earn just a fraction of the miles and MQM’s they fly…down to 25% in some cases. For all the details, check out this page.

My Take
While this isn’t an earth-shattering change for most people, I don’t see how this is positive in any way. The biggest issue I see is that it’s very difficult to figure out a published versus unpublished fare because they share the same fare code letter. Furthermore, I see a lot of potential confusion because most travel agent tickets are published, but it states that flights bought as part of a cruise package are not eligible. What if you book a cruise package through a travel agent – how can you know 100% that you’re on a published fare? Asking the travel agent is the obvious answer, but I can see some getting confused about this and some angry people who shelled out a ton for a trip and didn’t get full mileage, especially since unpublished fares aren’t always cheaper than the lowest published fare.

In March I wrote about rumored changes to the SkyMiles program and I feel like this is just one piece of that overall project to overhaul SkyMiles into a more revenue-based system. I have no inside information from Delta about this proposed change, but my gut tells me we will see some big changes soon that will go into effect March 1, 2013. I think the lack of American Express transfer bonuses is strategic in that they don’t want their loyal Amex customers being incentivized to transfer boatloads of points and then introducing drastic changes and upset their most important partner: American Express.

I’m not trying to rabble-rouse (I just love using that word), but I think a devaluation is on the horizon. I’m preparing by diversifying my points and mile balances so I’m not over-exposed to SkyMiles in a worst case scenario. And to be honest, I’ve redeemed a bunch of miles this year from American (Cathay Pacific First, British Airways First) and United (Singapore Business, Lufthansa First, United Business) and British Airways (BA First, American First) and those other programs are really just a world of difference compared to SkyMiles thanks to the ability to book one-way awards at half price, international first class redemptions, much better online booking engines and just an overall less time-consuming experience. I’m still a believer that there is value in the SkyMiles program – especially their elite program, but they are way behind the competition when it comes to flexibility and utility of miles.

If Delta does move to a revenue based earning/redeeming system, I’d like to see them make positive changes, like an operable award booking engine which includes all partner availability and the ability to book one-way awards at half the price of a roundtrip. Is that really too much to ask for?

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$595
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.