Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you’ve probably heard about Delta changing the Skymiles program starting in January 2015. At that time they will stop awarding miles based on how many actual miles you fly, but instead base it on how much your ticket costs. There will still be bonuses for status and using the Skymiles credit card.
There are plenty of issues with this. Gary Leff has done some calculations, and in some cases even a ticket bought by someone with the highest elite status on the credit card will not likely get as many miles as it would with the current system. Mileage runs will become basically worthless. And while it’s likely business travelers, who tend to spend more on tickets, will get more points than a budget traveler, it will be much more difficult to earn miles. Combine this with the recent point devaluations, and it almost seems like Delta doesn’t want its customers to be loyal.
Admittedly, I am not a points expert, and I don’t write about points nearly as much as some of my fellow Boarding Area bloggers. When Southwest switched to this model a few years ago, I quickly realized the positive implications for business travelers. The difference is that they went from “one trip equals one credit” to the new system. It may not be as good for budget travelers, but now sometimes I will earn almost enough for a one way ticket, just on one trip. I have long thought that Southwest was the best loyalty program for people who want to travel domestically, as inexpensively as possible. I’ve found award tickets for as low as 3200 points one way. At that rate, we earn enough through credit card spend for a round trip ticket almost every month!
However, if you travel internationally or care about upgrades, you need a different program. My fear is that once the other airlines see how this new model works they will change to it as well. We have a little time on that, but it sure does make me want to spend my miles now!
Readers, what do you think about the change? Is everyone unanimous in hating it, or do any of you think it might work out okay?