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In January 2013, Delta declared that 2013 flying for 2014 status would require a minimum ticket spend in addition to minimum miles flown. The revenue requirement was essentially set at 10 cents per mile — e.g. $2500 for 25,000 mile status, $5000 for 50,000 mile status and so on.
I considered the introduction of revenue requirements for status a big conceptual move, but one with limited effect in practice. At current ticket prices, it’s hard to spend less than 10 cents a mile on average for tickets.
And when Delta introduced revenue-based mileage earning which goes into effect this year, something else underscored just how low the threshold was set for status: the “break-even” fare to do as well next year earning miles under a revenue-based system as from earning one mile per mile flown was set at 20 cents a mile.
The ticket cost needed to earn as many miles was 20 cents, but the ticket cost needed to spend enough for elite status and upgrades was just 10 cents. You just knew Delta thought that was out of whack.
So here it comes…
Delta is raising the minimum spend requirements for status by 20%, the amount you’ll have to spend in 2015 in order to qualify for 2016 status.
- Silver status will increase the spend requirement from $2500 to $3000
- Gold status will increase the spend requirement from $5000 to $6000
- Platinum status will increase the spend requirement from $7500 to $9000
- Diamond Status will increase the spend requirement from $12,500 to $15,000
You can still get avoid the spending requirement entirely with an account address outside the United States or by spending $25,000 during the year on a Delta co-brand American Express card.
They really want to make sure they aren’t giving any of their flyers a good deal — no more elite upgrades even for high revenue customers when flying on the cheapest fare; a cap on partner points transferred into Skymiles; hiding vital flight information from informed customers; limitations in booking partner award tickets; restrictions on upgrades for the ‘good’ domestic routes.
They think they have the best product and fares are up. They don’t need to be generous with their loyalty program right now (so much for the slogan that ‘loyalty programs should be loyal).
Instead we get a new system that is, in total, mind-numbingly complex since you separately earn:
- Qualifying dollars towards elite status
- Qualifying miles towards elite status
- Redeemable miles based on the cost of a ticket
Three separate things, in different amounts.
As soon as the economy turns, or the industry starts getting more fiercely competitive, it will get even more so — because Delta will again need to leverage a loyalty program to convince customers to buy their commodity seats. And we’ll no doubt see bonus qualifying dollar earning, or promotions that waive the revenue requirements.
But for now they’re sailing high, and want to fire their customers who are buying the fares Delta offers but that aren’t deemed good enough.
Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.