Delta SkyMiles: Revenue-Based At Last

Delta Becomes the Industry’s Canary in a Coal Mine

It’s been three years since rumors first began leaking out of Atlanta that Delta was considering modifying their popular SkyMiles frequent flyer program from a “mileage-based” program to a “revenue-based” program. (“Popular?” you might ask, but what else would you call a program with 90 million members?) Over the three years, the topic leaked from internal communications and front-end employees and was blogged about from countless points of view. Although the topic was news for many, for Delta, this was not a new development.

It was in December 2002 that Delta sent its SkyMiles Medallion members a letter outlining the program’s revised qualifications for earning elite status. The letter stated that beginning January 2003, the program would “… better align loyalty benefits and rewards with the fares customers pay.” Again, this missive was sent to members in 2002. So it has been a long journey for SkyMiles that will culminate on Jan. 1, 2015, when the recently announced changes to the program will begin.

As it turns out, all of those recently who were announcing that a revenue-based program was coming were wrong—well, partially wrong—as you will soon read.

While there can be no doubt that the newly announced changes are revenue based (two words that put the fear into many a frequent flyer), there can also be no doubt that those in charge of SkyMiles have spent thousands of hours talking to SkyMiles members, listening to the airline’s leaders and casting an eye on the future of frequent flyer programs.

With this announcement from Delta, they seem to be reinforcing a new standard in the industry. But keep in mind that the new SkyMiles is not the same as Southwest Rapid Rewards’ newer program, which pioneered the move to a true revenue-based program among the larger legacy carriers here in the U.S.

Although the new SkyMiles might not mirror Southwest Rapid Rewards, it does seem oddly familiar (more on that later) and that’s what will make this work for Delta.

Delta is often an early indicator of trends that other airlines throughout the world will adopt two or more years in the future. Delta’s actions, like their refinery purchase, revenue-nuanced elite qualification rules and global acquisitions like that of Virgin Atlantic, are some examples. And let’s not forget that Delta pioneered non-expiring frequent flyer miles.

Sticking with the notion that Delta is indeed an early indicator of trends, doesn’t that make it something of a canary in a coal mine? And that can, of course, be a good thing or a bad thing.

The Basics
It is easy to notice that the announced alterations to the SkyMiles program are much more than simple changes to the mileage earning structure.

The program is also adopting some of the more popular benefits currently offered by other programs such as one-way awards, the introduction of miles plus money options and what the airline says are improvements to the award booking tools.

Earning by revenue shouldn’t come as a surprise to members given that Delta has been a bit stealthy in pre-introducing this revenue-based wrinkle by adding a revenue requirement to the qualifying requirements of their elite status Medallion program.

At first glance, one of the changes to the program is the complication of a simple process—that of award redemption. When Southwest introduced the new Rapid Rewards program, they introduced not only a spend-based accrual model for earning points, but also a cost-based redemption model.

Delta is not going the straight route that Southwest adopted but instead has adopted a familiar enhanced tier structure for award redemption. Familiar? Yes, the new Delta award flight structure almost exactly replicates award tiers that travelers have used for years when spending points in major hotel loyalty programs. In Delta’s version, SkyMiles now has a five-tier award flight structure, up from their current three-tier structure for domestic flight awards.

The Airline
Delta has for some time now clearly established itself as a leader and was recently named 2014 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine—the first time in a decade that a North American carrier has earned the distinction.

By way of measurement, United last won this award in 1974. And while former American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall hasn’t been all that complimentary regarding Delta’s decision to purchase an oil refinery in order to try to control fuel prices, their decision to purchase a near majority share of Virgin Atlantic shows some promise. The move reiterates their original Atlantic Excellence alliance, which lasted less than two years with partners Swissair, Sabena and Austrian Airlines, and holds out much more promise than just their membership in the SkyTeam alliance.

Chances are these decisions, and the ability to make work what others haven’t been able to make work, are why CEO Richard Anderson and the Coca-Cola-loving team in Atlanta are on a roll. Certainly their one-year trailing stock price performance leads all the major airlines. So, it would seem that this decision fits into the path that Delta has chosen for the airline and its customers.

With these recent announcements, Delta becomes the first U.S. global carrier to transition its frequent flyer program from accruing redeemable miles based on the distance the customer flies to one where a customer accrues redeemable miles based on the price of the ticket purchased—but there’s more to this than that.

The Crossover
What we were surprised at in this announcement is Delta’s just-short-of-cost-based redemption decision. Southwest Rapid Rewards successfully pulled it off as has JetBlue and others. Was it too much to do all at once? Or was the feedback strong enough from focus groups sending a clear message that members of these programs equate value with the ability to earn at lower rates and redeem at higher values such as the path that most mileage runners employ? While we don’t know the answer, we do know that the new SkyMiles program looks like a “crossover”—it has crossed over into a model that has long worked successfully for hotel programs.

As we all know, most hotel programs are based on members earning points according to the amount they spend and then employ a tier structure for redeeming points for hotel stays (generally called categories for hotel award stays). This loyalty structure has been in place since the dawn of hotel loyalty programs without much if any discussion, feedback and more importantly—complaint. And most importantly, it seems to work. Members don’t complain much about award choices, and if they do, it is when hotel categories change, which similarly will give room to complaints about Delta’s new five-tier award chart.

It seems clear that such an adoption parallels that of hotels in which more expensive hotels on an average daily rate are positioned in the higher tiers for the number of points required. In this case, SkyMiles award tickets will align themselves more closely to the price of air travel, which is how yield management has operated award availability for a number of years now.

But one of the reasons why we are surprised by this particular approach (tiered-structure on back side of revenue structure) is that Delta has long had the ability and infrastructure to convert their program to true revenue-based redemption based on their Pay With Miles option, which is currently exclusive to Delta SkyMiles credit card members.

We imagine this is a bit like the tail wagging the dog … the tail in this case being hotel loyalty programs wagging their brethren, airline loyalty programs.

The Earn
The big alteration to the new SkyMiles program is how members will earn into the program beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Earning miles will be based upon five new levels of earn, based loosely on your level of membership in SkyMiles with more bonus and earning power given to the most valuable members—the Medallion elite status members.

General members earn five miles per dollar spent. This number is increased to seven miles per dollar spent when purchasing a Delta Air Lines ticket with a Delta SkyMiles American Express card.

Moving up to the top of the Medallion ladder, Diamond Medallion members start earning at 11 miles per dollar spent and that increases to 13 miles per dollar spent when using the Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card. (All members earn two additional miles per dollar spent when using the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card by American Express.)

This earning ratio includes the base fare and any carrier imposed surcharges but not taxes and other items that are not Delta imposed such as all government excise taxes, segment fees, September 11th Security Fee and airport passenger facility charges.

For tickets not bought directly from Delta or on other carriers, members will earn a percentage of miles flown based on the fare class. Until this new earning structure is fully transparent and into effect in 2015, it remains a bit of the unknown. We should point out that Delta has some history in awarding a percentage of miles flown based on fare class. In 2012, changes were introduced regarding “unpublished” fares whereby coach fares earn only 50 percent mileage credit, and the lowest coach fares earn 25 percent mileage credit.

The new SkyMiles earn ratio is richer than that of Southwest. A-List members in Rapid Rewards earn a 25 percent bonus from the base fare, while Delta’s Gold Medallion-level members will earn a 60 percent bonus from the base fare. And Rapid Rewards A-List Preferred members earn a 100 percent bonus and Diamond Medallion-level members will earn a 120 percent bonus (not including any relevant credit card bonuses for each).

JetBlue TrueBlue Mosaic elite-level members earn a 100 percent bonus from the base fare. JetBlue’s offer is rich, but Delta’s Diamond Medallion will still rule at a 120 percent bonus. The other spend-based accrual program, Virgin America, offers five points per dollar spent on fares and their Elevate Silver elite earns a 25 percent bonus (compare this to Delta’s Silver Medallion which earns a 40 percent bonus) and Elevate Gold earns 100 percent bonus. So no matter how you look at it, Delta SkyMiles’ top tier members will earn the highest bonus rate among these three other programs.







The Burn
The addition of one-way flight awards will surely up the redemption patterns and availability of awards for those flyers who know how to manage their frequent flyer accounts. The one-way tickets will be priced at half of the roundtrip ticket redemption amount, starting at 12,500 miles within the U.S. and Canada, excluding Hawaii. Customers will also be able to redeem new Miles + Cash awards through and Delta reservations. (Full details on the Miles + Cash awards have not been announced.)

With up to five tiers of redemption, and perhaps some dynamics as to how availability will float within the five tiers (let’s remember that their own revenue flights float within fare buckets), Delta’s boast is that these changes will improve overall availability at the lowest award levels, i.e. the 25,000 miles domestic roundtrip. We don’t have enough information yet to know how this change will affect premium class awards or alliance awards. We did notice that Delta is continuing with its policy of last seat availability … albeit at a premium. So the new topic will not be if you can use your miles for an award ticket, but rather can you afford to spend the miles you’ll need.

The new redemption charts will be updated online the last quarter of this year and will be effective for new bookings beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Delta says the new redemption structure will align more closely to the price of air travel based on origin and destination, date of travel, the aircraft serving the route and passenger demand.







The Bottom Line
This move by Delta shows why the airline has assumed a leadership role in the industry and demonstrates they are not afraid of taking a risk—and will make the necessary decisions and actions based on what’s best for the airline. While the ground they are covering here is novel for a global airline the size of Delta, we believe that in the next five years, we’ll look back and point to this decision by Delta as a course correction for the global frequent flyer industry.

We can’t help but think it will have some affect on partners and the overall direction of the SkyTeam alliance. We can’t help but think it will influence the direction of other U.S. global carriers such as American and United. We can’t help but think that from now until Jan. 1, 2015, this topic will command the attention of social media among those channels preferred by members of SkyMiles.

We believe that Delta has chosen a very conservative and responsible approach to their 33-year old frequent flyer program, respecting their current members, while transforming the industry to be relevant for the next 33 years.

Unlike the changes to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, which is basically a stand-alone proposition, this move by Delta has another interesting possible consequence. What does this mean to the airline’s participation in a global alliance? While it’s true that Air New Zealand’s Airpoints revenue-based frequent flyer program has had no impact to their status as a member of the Star Alliance or resulted in changes to partner airline programs, Delta is in a much different position as one of the main cornerstones of SkyTeam.

One could argue that it would influence SkyTeam since the focus on the SkyMiles changes are on accrual rather than redemption. And looking at the rest of the world, we see essentially five other airlines we believe will be influenced by this change at a global alliance level. Mark down Lufthansa Miles & More, KLM / Air France Flying Blue, Qantas Frequent Flyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles as programs likely interested in how these changes by Delta as a leading global airline will play out when they have discussions about their frequent flyer programs with their own airline leadership.

This decision by Delta wasn’t made just at the loyalty program level within Delta, it had to reach far and wide within the organization and certainly had to pass muster with an interested Board of Directors.

Furthermore, we believe that this move by SkyMiles will greatly increase any existing movement by both American Airlines and United Airlines in the same direction.

Here’s why. We strongly believe that US Airways was well along a similar path of updating their existing Dividend Miles program given the type of airline that Doug Parker was running. Not to mention the close proximity to their main competition—Southwest Rapid Rewards. So we see Doug Parker championing this at American. And while it may be that American will not always make every change that the rest of the industry adopts (there is plenty of proof of that already), this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime of a loyalty program changes that simply cannot be ignored. Would anyone at Amon Carter Boulevard want to suggest that they would increase market share should they not join in with SkyMiles and perhaps United with similar changes?

United is not the wild card here. It wasn’t long after SkyMiles began requiring U.S. members of the program to spend a certain amount to earn elite status that United introduced a similar requirement for their elite status program. Point being that if United did not think this was a move in the right direction for the industry, they surely would not have adopted the change so quickly.

And back to speaking about American Airlines, could it be that they truly wish to fly to the beat of their own drum? It is more likely that with the direction and leadership of that airline so much in the news over the last two years, those in charge feel it is prudent for them to get the future of the airline decided upon first before mapping out these types of strategic plans for AAdvantage.

American, more so than anyone else in the industry right now, has the ability and timing to make this change to a revenue-based program more natural than others because of the merger with US Airways. But timing is critical and American would surely not subject the members of AAdvantage to a double whammy—the merger of AAdvantage and Dividend Miles—and then subject that same membership base to another drastic change within a period of five years.

Much of the conversation at Delta that will occur in the days and weeks ahead will be centered around the concept of “alienation” of the membership base, especially among Medallion members.

But really, with United having already started to adopt some spend-based practices within their program and the future of AAdvantage still unknown with the merger of US Airways, where would any frequent flyer feel comfortable running to?

And besides, as we clearly point out, the overall look and feel of the new SkyMiles does seem oddly familiar—somewhat a hotel loyalty program with wings.

Looking at some of the other news coming from Delta SkyMiles, while has yet to earn the coveted title of dot.bomb, their online tools have lagged behind some of the recent online improvements made by other travel loyalty programs, so the announcement that an improvement on this product is most welcome.

Furthermore, if we could point to a single item that likely created the discussion in Atlanta that lead to these changes it would be award redemption, or the lack of award redemption. While statistics of their redemptions point toward rather robust activity—more than 11 million award redemptions in 2013, they still were saddled with the “SkyPesos” moniker, owning more to the fact that no frequent flyer program is universally loved in a social media universe where someone is always complaining: #skypesos #skymilesfail.

And how might these changes play on Main Street? Time will tell. The Delta brand is currently at its highest level ever, and in the 2014 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index for emotional loyalty and engagement, Delta ranked third, just behind JetBlue and Southwest but well ahead of American and United.

One of the truly ironic things about this change is that it could easily be seen as being motivated by money. But Delta just recently reported $506 million in earned profit sharing for its employees—the highest in company history. So it doesn’t appear to be related just to money. Good management and understanding the future seems to be why Delta earned Airline of the Year accolades.

Yes, it’s true that Delta now rewards customers paying higher fares with extra miles and penalizes, it seems, members buying discounted tickets by giving them fewer miles. But isn’t it also true that most if not all road warriors have lived in this exact same world with hotel and credit card programs and it never seemed out of balance with them?

If our assumption is that SkyMiles is the canary in the coal mine, as frequent flyers, we’ll just have to get used to the fact is that it is their world and we’re all just flying around in it.

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      • Randy Petersen says

        Yep, every time he buys a ticket on Delta to fly that money ends up in their (Delta’s) payroll department—likely the same as the money you spend to fly Delta. As for the other …. damn hard to write much with but a stolen glance at a hidden webpage—likely a reason that the story never broke, even on the vaulted forums like Milepoint and FlyerTalk.

    • delta victim says

      Choice benefit ripoff alert. Transferred mileage program to Delta in 2013. Earned platinum status near end of year. Received award letter stating my choice benefit included (4) systemwide upgrades (the reason I switched to Delta). Applied for my award in 2014, Delta took it away. Said sorry doesn’t exist anymore. Have others been ripped off? Considering class action suit with Chicago law firm. Run from Delta.

  1. jetsetr says

    Wow, the day is finally here when we can say this game of leverage is truly over. Thanks for breaking the news, but would it be too much to ask to just get to the summary and highlights without having to slog through a long article? Way too many unnecessary words to get to the meat of the info we seek. I suggest a simple “earnings” table at the top, and a chronological listing of the key upcoming dates for us to watch (i.e., 1Q2015 = new award chart)

    • Randy Petersen says

      sorry. wrote this almost a month ago without knowing any of the details. I don’t think you’ll find any other real details as DL has ten months to still perfect those things. There’s likely a reason why a story this big did not have a single leak—still much is unknown.

      • jetsetr says

        Here’s my suggestion as to how to summarize, as also seen and posted in Teh Penalty Box (and since the formatting may be ugly in this comment, here’s the link to the MilePoint page where it looks cleaner, IMHO:

        So here’s the summary of the DL changes:
        Effective 1/1/2015
        How one earns SkyPesos:
        *Earnings are similar to how one earns points in hotel programs

        Base members earn 5 miles / 1 USD
        Silver Members earn 7 miles /1 USD (represents 40% bonus over base members)
        Gold Members earn 8 miles / 1 USD (60% bonus over base members)
        Platinum Members earn 9 miles / 1 USD (80% bonus)
        Diamond Members earn 11 miles / 1 USD (120% bonus)

        *Use of a DL-affiliated credit card will earn an additional 2 miles / 1 USD (in addition to miles earned from cc usage itself)
        *Miles earned based upon base fare + carrier-imposed surcharges
        *Initially, miles earned from revenue flights on SkyTeam and other air partners will be based upon booking class, but this is still opaque
        How one spends SkyPesos:
        * FIVE tiers of mileage awards (up from current three tier structure). Similar to how hotels move up or down in a category each year based upon average annual room revenue, flight award tiers for a given route will more closely track the average revenue for the route.
        *Critically, the effect on premium cabin award pricing may see significant rises in miles needed to redeem
        *one-way awards introduced
        *miles & cash option introduced
        Bottom line:
        DL will operate its program more like hotel loyalty programs have operated. Aspirational awards will still be possible, but it will be much harder to reach the mileage balances needed to get to those awards, even if, at the top Diamond level and using a DL cc, one is earning at the 13 miles / 1 USD level.
        Clearly, this program will reward high spenders, and diminish the impact of and cost benefit to mileage runners.

  2. Miles says

    An earn system based on miles was inevitable — inflation slowly eats away at the value of those flight miles, and everything else is revenue based.

    But a fixed point burn makes more sense economically. Those seats should be the ones that can’t be sold, and last seat availability can be made outrageously pricey.

  3. Ron says

    Obviously this is another devaluation. As compensation, I hope DL will look at their upgrade policies on international flights. The lastest changes make PM status practically worthless for those of us who mainly fly internationally.

  4. Points With a Crew says

    Thanks for the detailed post. Personally, I don’t think it has much of an effect on me. Sure, mileage running is dead (at least on Delta) but I think that most of us knew that it was on the way out anyways – eventually the airlines were going to figure out a way to stop it (and this seems pretty adept at doing it).

    For me though, I don’t earn my Delta miles by mileage running, so this doesn’t affect me that much.

  5. Brad Johnson says

    Let’s take a look at the announcement:
    One-way awards. Not new, I just looked one up and can book it TODAY

    New, easier/cheaper to use award levels: False, 25k still the floor. How much do you want to bet the ceiling will still be just as sky high

    Earn even more with AMEX: False, we already get the 2mi bonus when we book with AMEX

    No blackout dates: I’ve NEVER seen a date completely blacked out on the calendar, including when I flew home around thanksgiving a few years ago.

    More award seats available: Will it be more net seats? Will it be more seats at steep prices? What are the details?

    New award calendar: Seems like that is just the price of admission to being a 21st century company.

    More than just flights: These already exist too.

    Miles and Cash: Already there, used it.

    So one has to ask, where are the positive improvements to the HVC other than those who exclusively buy F/B tickets? I’m well over the MQD level each year for Diamond, I earn BOTH mileage bumps on my Delta RSRV Amex (that should clue into my spend), and I fly my miles each year without MR’s. I don’t see the benefit, especially as I start making more and more long haul flights.

  6. Tripcord says

    Good news for the guys flying on someone else’s money. I am a 1.8 million miler that paid for every one of those miles out of my own pocket and I very much have to monitor my expenses.(read: Saturday night stays, longer commutes to/from alternate airports, e-fares, LTSU fares, etc etc, to control costs) Guess this makes me one of the guys they are trying to de-emphasize.
    My planning has always been “Delta first” when possible because of the value of the FF program and the points. As that value erodes/disappears, my approach to travel must include the value of other factors ie: price, schedule, convenience, etc, as well as the value of other carriers FF programs. Quite simply it will be Orbitz/Expedia/Travelocity on my favorites bar instead of
    Regarding the comparison to hotel programs, all of the ones that I utilize offer the opportunity to earn points/nights through various and frequent bonus programs that are based on STAYS/NIGHTS and NOT spend alone. It seems that they have realized the importance of loyalty and volume in addition to spend alone.
    Overall, this “improvement” is saddening to me as a lifelong Delta devotee. On the other hand, maybe the sky indeed IS blue-er on the other side of the terminal.

    • John says

      I am in the same boat you are (DM with 1.7 million MQMS all flying) and feel the same way. These changes were inevitable given the consolidation in the industry that was for the benefit of the consumer. (LOL) The best protection for customers is a large number of firms competing for their business.

      One potential consequence of this change is the additional conflict it poses for business flyers and their corporate travel budgets and departments. Will business flyers take the most expensive flight to maximize their frequent-flyer miles accrual? That is great for the airline’s shareholders, but the shareholders of the frequent flyer’s company are getting ripped off. I can definitely see that this change will increase the travel costs for corporate travel departments. And if I managed corporate travel costs, I would look at ways to ensure people were taking the lowest fares when feasible.

      • Randy Petersen says

        Agree with the sentiment. As for booking higher fares for more miles? Seems the hotel industry from which this is copied would say that those types of behaviors are far more the exception than the rule.

        • John says

          The airline industry will probably make the same claim. It seems though that airfares have much greater variability than hotel room rates. Plus delta is offering multiples of five to 11 times the airfare. The hotel programs I’m familiar with don’t have multiples anywhere near that. Hotels also don’t have multiple prices for the same hotel room whereas airlines charge a myriad of prices for the exact same airline seat. Delta’s program exacerbates the potential conflict of interest between the company that pays and the business person who gets the benefit of the ff miles.

  7. Ryan Lile says

    Canary in a coal mine is an apt metaphor. While others have gone this route (JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America) Delta is the first legacy airline to do so. And because of competitive pressures, I predict this won’t stand unless BOTH American and United match. Hard to say which way that will go… I think Smisek’s United would be game to try it (just as they followed DL with qualifying spend requirements) but AA is the wild card. It’s hard to guess if Doug Parker’s post-merger AA will follow the crowd or seek to leverage customer loyalty by leaving the program largely as it is.

    The big spending frequent flyers (i.e. most of my client base) DO pay attention to these things. I think airlines underestimate how closely the people with the big wallets monitor these developments. They want value for loyalty, and if they don’t think they’re getting it, they will go elsewhere.

  8. Adam P says

    To judge these changes as visionary and benign is naive, given that there has been no awards chart revealed and preliminary outside analysis reveals even Delta’s best customers will earn less “currency” for comparable spend to today.

    The program seems exceedingly complex. Given that aspirational awards will not really exist, why not just simply offer ticket rebates or some such thing, since everything will hew to a ratio of ticket cost.

    If it’s not about money, then what is it about Randy? Your analysis is exceedingly weak here, given that these programs are profitable and DL already offers thin award availability compared to its peers. What benefit is left to wring out of this?

    • Randy Petersen says

      Any analysis is best based on available info. Its the info that’s weak. All the other stuff, i haven’t sen anyone that the time to track the history of this with DL or even so much as do a comparison of the miles earned per elite tier other than simply post the chart. I still think it’s about trying to remake DL’s reputation with their program, especially with their award redemption. Fact’s seem to indicate that DL’s award redemption as a statistic is not a problem (in 2013 7.3% of Delta’s passengers were flying on an award, vs. 7.7% on United and only about 4% on US Airways). But that only is the number of awards, not the average number of miles per award. My quote which seems to have been lost in all the chatter is that this seems an over complex way to simplify a problem, but then again, i rarely hear that hotel programs are complicated. Did not call these changes visionary and in fact have pointed out they are evolutionary not revolutionary. But it really would be hard to find any airline analyst to not refer to Delta during the past five years as anything but an industry leader. Given that Delta recently announced changed to their premium long haul, it doesn’t leave much to focus on other than to return the programs to the frequent flyer and hope that over time this decision is best for the DL brand. I never flew DL once in 2013 so i’m behind the cure on the emotional loyalty …

      • Robert Errant says

        One thing I haven’t heard mentioned here or anywhere else is the decreased mileage-earning premium between silver and gold/platinum. Today, SM earns a 25% bonus while GM/PM earn a 100% bonus – this equates to a 60% miles-earning premium when moving from SM to GM/PM (2 miles / 1.25 miles = 1.6). Next year, that premium drops to 29% for PM (9 miles per dollar vs. 7) and 14% for gold (8 miles vs. 7). In an era of (far) fewer upgrades, why should I strive for GM/PM if I’m not getting upgraded and not earning much of a mileage premium? Seems like I’d be better off trying to secure premium status on a second airline instead of shooting for GM or PM on DL.

        • Randy Petersen says

          Good catch. I think most are waiting to gather as much information possible before doing a deep dive into topics such as this. Really good point.

  9. Mcn says

    Very well written article. However, I think your comparison of the 5-tier Skymiles Award Chart to hotel award categories is flawed. Most hotel award categories factor in variation in the product (you pay twice the points for a St. Regis versus a Westin) while the Skymiles tiered awards are different prices for the SAME product on the same route (same coach seat on the same route can be 25k miles or 50k miles depending on award availability). Hotel points are not like Skymiles tiers – the award cost of the same hotel room doesn’t go from one price to a higher price due to limited availability of that same exact room. Hotels may charge different points levels for different rooms in the same building (e.g. Suite vs normal room) but not different prices for the same exact room.

    • Eric says

      I agree, it’s still apples and oranges. I doubt the eventual roll-out of the redemption scheme will be anything but ugly for the customer. Time will tell I guess.

  10. Brad says

    You people who think this will not affect you–or think this is a positive change are BRAINDEAD! Delta prices this summer are SOARING worse than I have ever seen…and now we won’t earn near as many miles. This isn’t about mileage runs. There are people like me who make a lot of international flights (missions) and as a diamond I will have flights that presently earn 40K miles change to earning 10K. My costs are going to skyrocket from this change. This change is a complete kick in the pants to loyal Delta customers. I keep seeing people refer to it as the Southwest model. Have any of you failed to notice that Delta is NOT Southwest? Southwest doesn’t charge for changes…for baggage…etc. Their fares are a fraction of what Delta charges. With those benefits, you don’t need a great frequent flier program. But with Delta’s soaring fares and minimal service, you expect more!

  11. Randy Petersen says

    Worked with what they had to report on and as is now known, not much. The positive information that was added comes from other sources such as their Brand scores, their selection as Airline of the Year, etc. Just trying to frame where Delta is at this moment. Thought that adding the fact that FORTUNE magazine recently names Delta to their Top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies list. Any inference of positive is likely the collaboration of others such as those named here. You might have missed that InsideFlyer also referenced where their shortfalls have also been noted as in SkyPeso’s and bottom ranking in other research for awards. There was a blend of the +/- from several public resources. While we understand that some may want to focus only on a particular view, typically good journalism explores both sides of the news and includes them. InsideFlyer does this to frame a discussion, not to own or direct it it. And we’re sure that a Delta PR would not have included reference to their SkyPeso nickname.

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