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.