Beginning January 1, 2015, Delta will be implementing a new mileage-earning model and will be bringing some much needed improvements for redeeming miles on award seats but making it much more difficult to earn those miles in the process.

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Delta will become the first U.S. global carrier to introduce a mileage-earning model where travelers will earn points based on the amount of money they spend on a Delta ticket. SkyMiles members will earn from 5-11 points per dollar spent depending on their status. Here is the breakdown:

• SkyMiles members – earn 5 miles per dollar spentScreen Shot 2014-02-26 at 11.26.24 AM

• Silver Medallion members – earn 7 miles per dollar spent

• Gold Medallion members – earn 8 miles per dollar spent

• Platinum Medallion members – earn 9 miles per dollar spent

• Diamond Medallion members – earn 11 miles per dollar spent

• Delta SkyMiles Credit Card members – will continue to earn up to an additional 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases with the Card. Delta credit cards include 3 different cards from American Express: The Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, and the Delta Reserve Credit Card. To see a breakdown comparison between the cards, click here. I normally bash Delta “Skypesos” and discourage friends and family to get a Delta credit card or accrue rewards in their SkyMiles program because Delta has really devalued the rewards program and made it very expensive to redeem points on their flights. I would still recommend you stay away from Delta credit cards and their SkyMiles program as I really don’t see an improvement in their program. At this rate it’s more likely that it will cost you more money to earn miles and will also cost you a lot more miles to redeem them for flights. I used to have no problem redeeming points years back and I really like Delta as an airline, however, up until now, they have really been lacking in that department and come up short to programs like United, British Airways, American, ANA, etc.

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Now this new mileage-earning model can be great for those who travel for business and travel short-haul very often, while for others this new model will be terrible. Those that like to find very cheap fares to do mileage runs and earn elite status faster will be slightly miffed by the new program as they will have to pay more to achieve and maintain elite status. People like my sister-in-law who travels every week for work and flies many short-haul legs will earn elite status and points much faster. She recently had to fly one-way from Laguardia to Detroit for over $700! That flight route only earned here around 500 miles that she had flown. With the new system, however, she will earn at least 3,500 miles and much more if she has elite status. Here’s to hoping that none of the other airlines with great award programs follow suit on this model, because we really don’t want an overhaul to some of the really great programs we have in place right now.

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Redeeming Miles:

  • Delta is aiming to make their award travel program more flexibility and include more availability starting in 2015. They will be increasing award availability at the lowest prices (saver awards) and increasing the number of redemption levels, up to 5, to give you additional options that will require fewer miles.
  • Delta customers will now have the option to book one-way award tickets at half the points of a round trip ticket.
  • You can pay for a flight using a combination of miles + cash: For example a 35,000 miles ticket would cost you 25,000 + $159 with the miles + cash option. This option can be great if your short of the amount needed to book a flight but don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money to buy those extra miles from Delta’s website. Currently, if you were to purchase 10,000 miles from Delta, it would run you $350. The miles + cash option in this case would save you almost $200.

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  • Delta will also be introducing a new award calendar that will display expanded search capabilities and ensure that you are seeing the lowest price for the dates you select. The new calendar will make it easier to compare a flight’s price in miles vs. dollars as well to give you an idea of whether there’s a better value in using your Delta SkyMiles for a flight  or paying for the ticket.  

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For more information on the new SkyMiles reward program, you can read about it here.