Delta Just Announcd Several Changes to the SkyMiles Program for Redemption and Elite Status

Delta has announced several changes that appear at first blush on net positive, although they appear worded to sound better than they are and despite making proactive announcements Delta still fails to explain changes in award availability to restrict most domestic markets to 21 advance purchase for saver awards and changes in terms and conditions that suggest a shift towards revenue-based redemptions coming.

Here are the changes:

  • Some North American economy awards will be 10,000 miles one-way. Normally US domestic coach awards are 12,500 miles one-way. These new lower priced awards are available through December 31 only are require a 21-day minimum advance purchase.

  • More partner airlines awards at They’ve announced what we’ve already known, China Eastern, China Southern, China Airlines, and Gol redemptions (all of which I’ve reported over the past couple of months here). They say more partners will be coming online.

  • Book awards via mobile I’d rather see them improve their award pricing engine than the mobile site, get the fundamentals right first, but some people will value being able to book award tickets (regardless of price) via their phone.

  • Most partner flights will earn qualifying dollars regardless of whether it’s a Delta ticket or a partner ticket. That’s a big IT advance, and something United hasn’t managed to do. It was absurd that buying an Air France business class ticket — Delta and Air France are metal-neutral joint venture partners — didn’t help you earn Delta status at all. They’re making this change retroactive to January 1, and say it’ll take until March 20 for all of this to post. Lots of details to be revealed here, not available yet on the website as of this writing, “may earn MQDs based on a percentage of distance flown as determined by the fare class paid.” and “we’ve also made minor changes to the way you earn Medallion status on Alaska Airlines flights, effective April 1.”

Delta claims they have “expanded award availability at the lowest prices by greater than 50%” although there are weasel words here, they aren’t saying that saver awards have 50% more inventory but rather ‘lowest prices’ which presumably incorporates at least levels 1 and 2 of their new 5-tier redemption chart (it was always expected that some mid-tier awards would be level 2 awards when they moved from 3 to 5 redemption levels).

The fact though that they’ve announced 10,000 mile redemptions through December 31 suggests that they won’t move to pure revenue-based redemptions for Delta flights until – at least – January 1 (unless they change their minds, but it would appear to reflect current thinking).

(HT: MJ On Travel)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, you may have talked about this before, but if DL goes to revenue-based redemption for their own metal, what do you think they’ll do with partner redemptions?

  2. In general these are a net positive.

    Some bloggers openly scoff at the ability to earn MQD on other airlines, because they get status via MS. However, they complain that they can’t seem to be invited to Delta 360. The trick is to make the MQD via airline (not CC spend) – I spent over $60K last year with no MS and was invited into the secret society.

  3. I hate all speculation type articles. Rarely are they true and it just creates noise.

  4. Perhaps this was a prior change in policy but I’m pretty sure I earned DL status from AF flying in the past. I had flown to Asia (via CDG) in AF business, and am pretty sure that’s how I hit DL Silver (which was the first time I had any sort of status). But that was 2012…

  5. Arg, I commented on the wrong post. I meant to post here that I confirmed that in 2012 I flew JFK-CDG-BLR (and vice versa) in AF business and earned 25,538 MQMs — 17,024 miles flown + 50% class of service bonus. So I don’t understand Gary’s comment that “It was absurd that buying an Air France business class ticket — Delta and Air France are metal-neutral joint venture partners — didn’t help you earn Delta status at all.”

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