Delta SkyMiles has announced some changes that will go into effect immediately and others that will be implemented by this fall or next year. As of June 2, Delta SkyMiles will no longer charge a fee for award ticket redemptions, including last minute bookings. The fee to redeposit unused award tickets or make changes to an award is now $150. The reissue and redeposit fees are waived for Diamond and Platinum members, who are no longer limited to two fee waivers.
Delta will be adding more preferred coach class seats on all Delta and Delta Connection flights by August 2010 to ensure elite members who book a last-minute seat have access to preferred seating. Coming in September, the program will allow Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members to upgrade on award tickets and sometime in the fall, these same elite members will be able to upgrade when flying on Alaska Airlines. And members will be glad to hear that SkyMiles will be working on the online award booking engine and calendar at delta.com to improve the online booking service. Members will find more search options, better access to award reservations from the home page and the calendar display and pricing will be repaired. Changes to the Web site will continue through November 2010.
In 2011, SkyMiles will add the ability to redeem mileage upgrade awards online and the PerkChoice program will be re-introduced. Former WorldPerks members may remember being able to combine miles and money when buying a ticket with PerkChoice awards, which will be offered in addition to the existing SkyMiles Pay with Miles program for Delta and American Express co-branded credit cardmembers.
Bottom line: The good news is that the close-in award ticketing fees of $75 for booking within eight days of travel, $100 for booking within four to seven days and $150 for booking within three days will no longer be charged. But non-elite and Silver Medallion members who want to change or cancel an award ticket will now be charged a higher fee of $150 (from $100). We’re glad to hear that Delta is finally going to fix its online booking tool and although Delta SkyMiles has a reputation of making it difficult for members to find award seats, the airline announced that SkyMiles members redeemed over 230 billion miles for more than 11 million award redemptions in 2009. And last year, 8.5 percent of revenue miles flown on Delta were for award travel, which is better than United’s 8.3 percent and slightly less than the 8.9 percent of passengers flying on awards with American. Continental reported 8.5 percent and US Airways reported only four percent of passengers were traveling on award tickets. On Alaska Airlines, 15 percent of revenue passenger miles involved passengers who had redeemed miles for awards.