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Delta Air Lines just announced that they are making updates to the SkyMiles program, changes that will start in 2015. “Changes” is the understatement of the year as Delta just put a dagger through every mileage junkie’s heart.

Take a look:

Earning Miles: Miles you earn toward Award Travel will be based on ticket price instead of distance flown for Delta-marketed or -ticketed travel on or after January 1, 2015. You’ll earn 5 to 11 miles per dollar based on your SkyMiles status.”

This is not a huge surprise to industry followers since JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America all have revenue based programs. But Delta is the first legacy carrier to implement it so it’s a historic moment in the industry. No doubt American and United will follow suit. Here’s Delta’s official announcement and below are some in-depth stories about the new move:

On Delta’s site you can see by using their handy little mileage calculator widget that this is great news for business and first class travelers who spend a lot of money for tickets. But for the majority of the traveling public (including me) this is terrible news as Delta continues to devalue their program.

Here’s an example:

DL 1As you can see from the screenshot above if you are a not an elite member of Delta SkyMiles program and you spend $350 on a roundtrip Los Angeles to New York ticket you would normally earn 4,950 miles. But starting Jan 1, 2015, you’ll only earn 1,750 miles.

DL 3But as you can see from the second screenshot if you spend $2,800 for a first class ticket on that same route (the going fare) then you will earn 14,000 miles in 2015 and beyond instead of the current 4,950 miles. So this is indeed great news for those with big budgets but terrible for us little guys.

My advice is to switch your loyalty as soon as possible to American and United in hopes they see a huge influx and won’t follow Delta’s lead. Unfortunately, I think that’s a fat chance as this will be the industry norm.

Sad day for mileage junkies. The game is over.

Updated: Delta Publishes 2015 SkyMiles Program U.S. Award Chart

Johnny Jet

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11 Comments On "Delta Rewrites Frequent Flyer Rules"
  1. DHK|

    Fly with Delta before the end of the year if going a long distance. Considering what airfare costs now, few bargains anyway.

  2. the Luxury Travel Expert|

    Delta Airlines or how to transform loyalty into frustration, irritation and in the end non-loyalty! I stopped flying them long ago, and I do hope that other legacy carriers will not follow them and embrace all these unfortunate SkyMiles customers with excellent loyalty programs that make the difference.

    1. John William Johnson, CEO, LMT, MFCC|

      Wondering who you fly instead? There aren’t a lot of options. Delta’s mileage plans have always required many more miles to fly anywhere than United or Continental. But now United is bare bones travel.

      1. Johnny Jet
        Johnny Jet|

        Good question! Lot of variables but I tell you who the winners are of this … Virgin America and JetBlue. Because once United and American make the move they are going to lose some serious customers since the only reason many stuck around were because of the miles.

  3. Kim Gatsby|

    I just spent all my miles and cancelled the card; they are raising the yearly fee in May to $195 also. I bought RayBans, Le Crueset and a few other nice things and now I have the Delta monkey off my back. I applied for the Amex card that is free with paid Costco membership with cash back.

  4. Anonymous|

    Hi Johnny -So am I reading this right? ” Redeemable miles” ( what you earn when you pay the higher ticket price ) does not mean that you get those extra miles as MQM you still need 50,000 for gold but if you pay the lowest fares available you won’t actually earn the equal amount in redeemable miles ? So 10 trips LAX- JFK is still needed a year to maintain Gold whether its at $500 a trip or $1800 a trip, paying more will not get you more qualification miles just bonus miles? Right ?

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      You are right!

  5. Anonymous|

    Look at like this…. I fly 500 mile segments…. Never cross country. Spending the money but no mileage… Now I get miles worth my business! Platinum million miler…the hard way’

    1. Johnny Jet
      Johnny Jet|

      Yep, you should be happy!

  6. Nancy Reid|

    I’m devastated. Looks like its time to switch over to Space A travel and take our chances!

  7. Julie|

    I guess lucky for me that I booked flts to Hawaii using miles for Xmas 2014..gonna use up my miles and look for a new partner who won’t screw me over ( if there’s one out there). Bye bye Delta

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