By now, you have been looking at all the blogs, newspapers and reading on Delta.com what it all means. Twitter has exploded and most are deeply upset (there are a great many other words too) about the changes. This is a MASSIVE change. Some facts we do know while others are yet to come out from the “mothership”.
There is no way to cover everything in one post so for now I will touch on some of the highlights and low lights of the changes and my thoughts so far. First the good parts for us as flyers (and much of this is from my perspective as one who flies Delta a bunch).
- We have some time. Unlike other changes, for now, Delta is allowing us until 31DEC2014 to BOTH earn and burn at the current levels. As long as your scheduled takeoff is before 23:59 on 31DEC2014 you are earning at the old rate. As long as you book before 23:59 on 31DEC2014 you can redeem at what is currently in place.
- One way awards. We have asked for this and it is coming. This is good news. Will we be able to still add an open-jaw and or stopover as now? It looks that way and could be a real win and a way to get even more value out of Skymiles.
- Points+cash. Please note this is VERY different from PWM that is Pay with Miles. This new one is an AWARD TICKET (see the difference is we start with miles and add cash not the other way around that PWM is). So, medallions DO have a shot at upgrades like current award tickets.
- All new award site. Delta is tossing out the old award page. This alone is great news. The bad news is Delta “IT” is making the new one so who knows if it will work any better than the old one. At least the old one will be gone and that is just good!
- Delta AMEX Credit cards. Clearly, as you can see from my opening graphic, I enjoyed this year meeting my MQD exempt status in less that 2 months. I will have spent $30k by my statement cutoff. I will then earn 15K Skymiles Bonus and 15k MQM bonus too. Thus, 45k Skymiles this year from all sorts of ways of spending. This will, as of now, NOT CHANGE! Mfg. spending is going to be one of the best ways to earn Skymiles in 2015.
- Earning MQMs does not change. Is mileage running dead? No, but the rewards will be less on the Skymiles side. Bottom line is if you need MQMs you still have to get them. Credit card MQMs will be worth more and mileage runs will still earn full MQMs at dirt cheap prices – we just get much less Skymiles in 2015.
- Short hop and many business travelers. Many will LOVE these earnings changes. Those who have to make many short hops and pay mid-high prices for tickets can earn a bunch more when flying Delta. Especially medallions.
- Low level awards at current levels should still be found. At this point, and things as we know can change on a dime, both coach and premium cabin low level awards will be possible. Just like now, many will overspend to get the flights they want. The 5 tier pricing could make for some sweet deals and some not so good prices. This is Developing!
Now on to the bad news and there is a bunch of it mostly on the earning side from flying.
- EARNING Skymiles will be MUCH lower than in the past and based on price of ticket; take for example an $800 round trip coach ticket from Detroit to Amsterdam (below is r/t earnings). For those who pay more, you get more. Also, the highest medallions get the best rewards no matter what the price.
- Redemption is not known yet. DeltaPoints readers are a mix of coach and premium reward redemptions. Delta “says” we will have MUCH better space open in 2015 at low levels. We will see.
- Mileage Runs. Today, at sub 3CPM you can just about get paid to fly if you value a Skymile at 2 cents each. In 2015, cheap flights will be to earn MQMs and some token Skymiles! But when you look at what Delta was selling MQMs for in Dec2013 a MR may still be a bargain in comparison. We will have to hunt much harder for value in MRs!
- Partners. This one hurts. As we saw with Korean Air this year, if you want to earn you had better be flying and buying DL marketed flights. Unless Delta gets paid, don’t expect full Skymiles credit.
My head, much like yours, is spinning. There is a TON to take in. You see those who “hate” Delta and Skymiles tell you “we told you so” but take a deep breath. This is not as bad as it could be and, you know what, we “are” gamers – right? We will find ways to get the seats we want, at a good price and find value in the program no matter what changes they make.
Those who I do feel sorry for is the “now and then” flyer. The Skymiles program was complicated before. Now, unless you follow the blogs and are willing to do what it takes to understand the ever changing rules you are not going to get it and will be disappointed. More on the way this week.
The thought I will leave you with today is 2014 may be the best year ever to earn under the old program – depending on what the 2015 award chart is – and we will not find that out until Q4 of this year so YMMV applies as always! – René