Delta has announced that effective September 1, “unpublished fares” may no longer earn full miles flown, nor receive full elite qualifying miles, and shall not be subject to earning 500 miles minimum per segment.
Under this scheme, only nearly full (“M”) fare coach tickets and higher earn 100% of miles flown. “Deeply discounted” U and T fares, if those U and T fares are “unpublished,” will only earn 25% of miles flown.
Additionally, these fares may not (it doesn’t say ‘will not’) be eligible for elite qualifying bonuses or class of service (business/first class) bonuses. And these fares will not be eligible for bonus mile or elite promotions.
The biggest problem here is uncertainty. Customers now don’t just have to know the fare they’re buying to know whether or not it earns full miles. They now need to know whether that fare is published or unpublished.
While Delta gives some examples of unpublished fares (student fares, consolidator fares, cruise and tour packages, etc.) they also say that “Unpublished fares are normally purchased through a specialized agent, third party or to a group.” (Emphasis mine.)
Third party is huge. There are no guarantees on your mileage-earning unless you are certain your fare is published if you buy that ticket other than directly from Delta unless tickets are purchased from Delta Vacations, using Corporate fares, or in the Asia Pacific region as those are exceptions to the policy.
Delta would say “just buy from them” and if you want to be a valued customer rewarded for your loyalty through the Skymiles program, perhaps that’s what you have to do. If you’re making a third party booking you may not be a valued customer to Delta anymore.
This will likely come as a surprise, though, for customers booking paid business class travel in conjunction with cruises costing tens of thousands of dollars — I see several of these folks through my award consulting, they may want to use their miles if they can get the ticket they want otherwise they’ll just buy the business class ticket they’re being offered by the cruise line. They’re loyal Delta elites. I see that often.