Delta announced changes to their SkyMiles frequent flier program yesterday. Changes were bound to happen: With the merger of Northwest and Delta, and the upcoming combination of their mileage programs, that’s a lot of accounts coming in.

I’m late to the discussion, and others have already hit the main points, so I’m just going to give you the short version and recommend others for the detailed breakdown of the pros and cons.

The biggest news is 1) the introduction of a new (fourth) elite tier at 125,000 miles, 2) the ability to roll over qualifying miles from one year to the next, so you get a running start on status the following year, and 3) upgradable award tickets.

For the most part, the changes are good. The fourth elite tier is a bit annoying, in that it creates greater complexity in an already complex system. Rollover miles are nice, but they come at a price: The following year, there will be a LOT of other travelers with a running start; the upgrade competition will be fierce. And upgradable award tickets? Great idea, but let’s see how it’s executed. (I.e., who gets priority for the upgrade, the Diamond-level elite with an award ticket, or the Platinum with a full-fare paid ticket?)

For full reviews, see these other fine blog posts:

On the “pro” side:
- Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research is downright ga-ga for the changes.
- Brett over at Cranky Flier calls it good news for frequent flier junkies.
- The Delta Blog is positive. I was really expecting some hard-hitting critiques…

On the “con,” or at least skeptical, side:
- Gary Leff calls the changes “unimpressive.”
- One Mile at a Time notes that United and American top-level flyers already have most of the Diamond benefits, at a lower mileage level.

In any case, it’s going to change the calculus for top-tier fliers in the new Delta. Lower-tier elites and general members are frankly going to see little difference.

Update: Seconds after publishing, I see Jared Blank had the same exact idea for handling this topic as I did.

pixel Roundup: The pros and cons of Deltas revised SkyMiles program

11 Responses to “Roundup: The pros and cons of Delta’s revised SkyMiles program”

  1. Holocron Says:

    RE: Carryover miles

    This only applies to miles you earn AFTER achieving a given level of elite status.

    So, if you start at no elite status and earn 10,000 miles, they do not carry over. If you rack up, say 40,000 miles and earn Silver elite, then 15,000 carry over.

  2. AboutBudgetTrav (Mark Kahler) Says:

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    RT @istopover Travel: The pros and cons of Delta’s revised SkyMiles program… [link to post]

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  3. istopover (istopover) Says:

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    Travel: The pros and cons of Delta’s revised SkyMiles program… [link to post]

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  4. Jared Blank Says:

    Great(ish?) minds think alike :)

  5. Manny Richardson Says:

    I now regret the day that I ever started flying with Delta. I am a platinum medallion member, which doesn’t mean anything. My 2 children, ages 8 and 5, were just pulled off on flight 121 from JFK to Sao Paulo (GRU) Brazil. They were told that they had to balance the plane. Well, the 2 of them together do not weigh more that 120 pounds. Because they were pulled off, my wife had to get off. They can from Atlanta to New York to caught this flight. I have been waiting in Brazil on a business trip for 4 days to get them here. Now they are stranded in New York with no change of clothes because Delta would not take their bags off the plane. On top of that, how are they supposed to get their bags. If anyone wants my skymiles, shoot me an email or call me at 404-556-2297. This will probably be my last flight with Delta. I am going to check into becoming a member of Continental.

  6. Manny Richardson Says:

    I am going to blog everywhere I can about this experience.

  7. Manny Richardson Says:

    Another thing that is causing a problem is that I can’t find an international number to call Delta. Their 1800 numbers do not work when you are in another country. There is nothing I can do about it. I am helpless!!!

  8. darren g Says:

    I agree. I was stuck in china and they just don’t have a non toll free number to call. They need this since the local offices close tooo early.

  9. DeltaPMfanatic Says:

    I am highly disappointed in Delta’s latest attempt to “WOW” PM’s with their Skymiles program. The biggest disappointment to-date is the inability to upgrade TransATL on any other fare besides M, Y, or B. You would think that PM’s; and, soon to be DM’s, would at least have the option to upgrade on other fares like K and H, etc. I will be one of their new Diamond Medallion members next year and I’m trying to figure out if I should switch back to my United as their 1K program is far better. Signed, DelaPMfanatic who is very disppointed!!

  10. Newfdoc Says:

    I have had all the above experiences including twice in the last 2 months being told I was “nothing more than a mishandle” after a flight delay saw me sit in DTW over night, and being #15 on a standy list while clearly casual travellers get to go home in first-come first served order according to how their rebook hit the system.

    WORSE folks – have any of you looked at the apparent replacement for the Meallion Markeplace, now called Sky Miles Shopping?

    This is the text DL had on the website when they closed Medallion Marketplace on 9/30/09

    >The merchandise redemption program (Medallion Marketplace) has >temporarily closed and will return by year-end with a broader selection of >products and offerings.

    Go Look what you get now on the new one…an anemic, dismal and unimpressive array of GAP, Footlocker and LL Bean $50 gift cards or similar cards at your standard expense-account restaurants. My wife hates LL Bean. I’ve had enough company-paid Outback steaks to start my own butcher shop.

    I am really sorry I spent the year flying DL exclusively to be assured of making the vaunted Diamond for 2010. I should have sucked up and kicked to AA an built status with them for a year.

  11. Mary Says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the lack of service and reward for our loyalty. I spent over $20 K for the past 3 years flying NW and now Delta. I achieved Platinum status and see absolutely now benefit for my loyalty. Not only and I not upgraded on most flights, but I am in the back in a middle seat. I have called the help line to change seats and even though there were aisle seats, I couldn’t get one. I had to wait until I got to the airport and they were so busy, they wouldn’t even talk to me. I constantly see Silver and Gold getting upgraded before me. I just don’t understand. Nor, do I see any benefit once I get Platinum this year that I should waste my money flying Delta. I want my NW back!!!!

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