Delta SkyMiles Goes to a Revenue Based Model

The Wall Street Journal, InsideFlyer, Points Miles and Martinis, and One Mile At A Time are all reporting that Delta Air Lines will unveil a new SkyMiles program which will go into effect January 1, 2015.

Under the new program, SkyMiles members will earn miles in the following scheme:

  • 5 miles per $1 spent on base fare for general members
  • 7 miles per $1 spent on base fare for Silver Medallions
  • 8 miles per $1 spent on base fare for Gold Medallions
  • 9 miles per $1 spent on base fare for Platinum Medallions
  • 11 miles per $1 spent on base fare for Diamond Medallions

Biggest losers? Gold Medallions on cheapest fares

Biggest winners? Diamond Medallions on Full-fare or Premium Cabin tickets

Here's a breakdown of the bonus SkyMiles earned in the old system versus the new system:

Elite LevelOld Program BonusNew Program BonusChange
General0%0%---
Silver25%40%+15%
Gold100%60%-40%
Platinum100%80%-20%
Diamond125%120%-5%

Let's look at a flight between Los Angeles and New York JFK.

  • Non-stop flight is 2,470 miles
  • Cheapest Fare: $308 (round trip, including taxes and fees), $266 base fare
  • Full Fare (Y): $4,384 (round trip, including taxes and fees), $4,058 base fare
Elite LevelOld ProgramNew Program (cheap fare)New Program (Y fare)
General4,9401,33020,290
Silver6,1751,86228,406
Gold9,8802,12832,464
Platinum9,8802,39436,522
Diamond11,1152,92644,638
 

Positive Changes for Redemption

Delta is adding one-way tickets priced at half the roundtrip redemption amount (currently you have to redeem at roundtrip amounts even if all you want is a one-way).

Miles+Cash awards will be added as an option although details have not yet been announced.

Questionable Changes for Redemption

Delta claims adding two more redemption tiers will improve low-level award availability, but I remain skeptical.  There will be five-tiers of redemption amounts rather than the current three of Low, Medium, and High.

Delta says the new redemption structure will align more closely to the price of air travel, so expect a huge devaluation as well.

Conclusion: BURN THOSE SKYMILES and if you're not a Full-Fare flyer, consider looking elsewhere ::cough:: ALASKA ::cough::

Frequent flyers I have talked to also believe that United will follow suit in moving to a Revenue system for Mileage Plus.