Delta Boeing 747-400 tail seen from a Dreamliner – Photo: David Parker Brown
This week, Delta Air Lines announced a major change to their Skymiles frequent flier program, while many in the industry speculated was coming. The changes to the Skymiles program will see an end to their current (and, some would say, traditional) points earning process, to now be a revenue-based model.
Similar to airlines like Jetblue, Southwest, or Virgin America, it no longer comes down to how far you fly, but rather how much you spend.
As of January 2015, Delta will move from a “1 mile flown = 1 point earned” model, to a new revenue-based system where for every dollar you spend on your airfare you will receive 5 points (though they are still using the term “mile” for some reason). As with the current program, the higher your elite status, the more miles you get as a reward. By using a co-branded Delta credit card, you can earn yourself a few extra points as well.
But we wanted to share our opinions from both the perspective of a miles and points junkie (Mal) and someone who doesn’t really care about miles (David).
Delta Sky Priority Check In just one of the perks given to their Elite Medallion members – Photo: Delta
This is a second leg (part) in a multi- leg series. Make sure to read LEG 1 first.
Previously, I mentioned that you can get some pretty sweet benefits being an elite frequent flier and hope to expand on the idea a bit more on this part, which deserves a whole article on it’s own.
Unlike earning points, the benefits come once you have achieved that elite status and each airline has different benefits they will give their elites. Most of the airlines though tend to give the big three:
1) Priority Boarding – This means you get to board before the general economy passengers, obtaining not only that precious overhead bin space, but a few extra minutes to get yourself settled without being crowded and holding up the queue behind you.
2) Priority Check In – Being able to check in without having to wait in long lines, going to the “front of the queue” almost can be worth its “wait” in gold. Getting checked in and on your way to security fast and efficiently makes any frequent flier happy.
3) Priority Security – Avoiding that long security line behind that family with 8 children and 25 bags is always a good thing. Speedily getting up to that security check point and getting through in the least amount of time possible means you can be on your way to the gate (or lounge) faster. If you are lucky enough you may even qualify for TSA Pre Check (but that’s a whole different story).
In some cases these benefits can be worth it on their own. But there are other, less common benefits, that some airlines give that really make it worth the effort:
- Bonus Points
- Seating Upgrades
- Change Fee Waivers
- Lounge Access
- Free/Extra Baggage Allowance
American Airlines & other oneworld airline elite fliers (Emerald status) allow access to the First Class lounges in their network, even if you are flying on an economy ticket. Star Alliance gives all of their Gold members lounge access as well (for a full run down on Star Alliance Gold benefits watch this snazzy YouTube video).
United Airlines Premier 1K fliers are able to make same day changes to their flights without fees and Delta gives complimentary domestic upgrades to most of its Elites (though you still have to fight the other elites for those First Class seats).
No matter what program you choose, they all offer something to their VIP customers to make them smile.
Getting an upgrade to a First Class Seat on Delta could land you in a seat like this on some routes – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
I am a Star Alliance Gold and a Virgin Australia Velocity Gold. These two programs probably mean nothing to the average American flier and most airline employees around the world barely know about the airline I hold Star Gold status with (and the less that know, the better). They both give some pretty great benefits to me that other programs don’t. Just because I live in the USA (but from Australia) doesn’t mean that I need to credit all of my flying to a US based program. Virgin Australia allows me to earn status on them, while I fly on Delta, Virgin America or Hawaiian.
Some times the benefits can be a little confusing. For instance if I was flying on United, I would get lounge access thanks to being Star Gold with a non us based airline. However, If I was Star Gold with only United, I would be in the Starbucks queue like everyone else for my morning coffee and not have lounge access. So doing the research on the privileges that different programs give is important.
Mileage running is just a way to get all the things you want with a travel experience as quickly, cheaply and easily as possible. Sure mileage running is not for everyone, but if it’s for you… it can be well worth it!
|This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. |
Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.
@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos