Delta’s Downward Spiral of SkyMiles: Revenue-Based Accrual

The latest buzz today is Delta’s announcement of their 2015 SkyMiles program. Here are the major points you should know:

  • Starting January 1, 2015, you’ll earn miles toward Award Travel based on ticket price and your SkyMiles status.
    • Say goodbye to mileage runs!
  • For redeeming miles, instead of the current 3 tiers, there will be 5 tiers.
    • As if it wasn’t hard enough finding low-level award availability, I think this will make it even harder.
  • Delta will finally offer us one-way awards priced at half the amount of a round trip.
    • Undoubtedly the only good change announced.
  • An option to redeem for awards using points + cash will be available.
    • Too early to say if this will be good or bad. It will depend on what rate Delta offers us.

Here is the earning structure based on the type of SkyMiles member:

  • General members earn 5 miles per dollar spent
  • Silver Members earn 7 miles per dollar spent
  • Gold Members earn 8 miles per dollar spent
  • Platinum Members earn 9 miles per dollar spent
  • Diamond Members earn 11 miles per dollar spent
  • Purchasing ticket with a Delta co-brand credit card earns an additional 2 miles per dollar spent

In the end, leisure travelers, mileage runners, and those just generally wanting to earn the most miles and pay the least money are the ones who lose out. Business travelers who tend to book full fare tickets will likely be unphased and, in fact, they may earn more miles with this new structure.

Mileage Redemptions

Details haven’t been announced regarding awards, but they will be changing. It’s hard to speculate anything without any word on how the new Delta award chart will look, but I generally assume the worst when it comes to Delta.

Low-level availability is already very hard to come by in certain markets. One can’t redeem SkyMiles for international First Class. Delta.com is one of the worst when trying to search for awards.

IF Delta goes full revenue-based for award redemptions like JetBlue, Southwest, & Virgin America, it may make their miles much less valuable.

Delta says that they will announce these details “later in 2014.”

Recap

Things will be changing come 2015. Delta may have just opened Pandora’s box with this announcement, signaling United & American/US Airways that they should ready their loyalty program changes as well.

Whatever happens, I will plan to liquidate the rest of my Delta SkyMiles (200K) before it’s too late.

Only time will tell, but today definitely isn’t a great day in the miles & points game.