Delta to Move to Price-Based Frequent Flier Awards January 1

By Paul Riegler on 29 December 2014
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DSC_4940Delta Air Lines will make a dramatic change in how miles for awards are earned and redeemed starting January 1.

Going forward, award travel miles will be earned based on ticket price, starting at five miles per dollar spent for general members and increasing based on the level of elite status the member has achieved.  Members who have a Delta SkyMiles credit card will earn a bonus of two miles per dollar on ticket purchases.

Delta is the first U.S. airline to base miles on ticket price, a move that United will follow in March.  American, the world’s largest airline, has not announced any changes to its program.

In addition to the new system, award redemption at Delta will change greatly as the airline is introducing one-way awards, something offered by other airlines but not previously by Delta, as well as options to purchase awards for a combination of miles and cash.  Delta said that the miles will be redeemable for any Delta flight without any blackout days and promised to make more seats available at the lowest redemption levels.  It is also introducing more pricing tiers for award flights.

Here is how some of the changes will play out.  An $889 round-trip flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Munich Airport would today earn 8,082 SkyMiles for a general member and 16,164 for a Platinum Medallion member.  With the new program, the general member will get 4,400 and the Platinum Medallion, 7,920.  On the other hand, a $569 round trip from JFK to Montreal would today only earn 1,000 SkyMiles for a general member but 2,845 under the new program.  The Platinum member would get 2,000 today and 5,121 under the new program.

The change only impacts reward miles.  The manner in which members will earn Medallion status will not, however, change. Status will continue to be earned using the same dual-tier system introduced for 2014, namely through a combination of Medallion Qualification Miles or Medallion Qualification Segments plus the new Medallion Qualification Dollars.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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