Why I am OVERJOYED with Delta’s 2016 Skymiles MQD increase!

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While I am a bit “peeved” that Delta could not come clean with the facts that the updates to the 2016 program that were leaked were in fact correct and accurate what I am just overjoyed about are the changes.

Now before you comment or tweet things like “you Delta sellout” or “how are you going to spin this” and so on hear me out why I am saying this and see if you don’t agree.

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I also get it can be hard to defend statements like I said yesterdaythis is REALLY great news. I say that because it could have been MUCH worse” but here is why and how it could have been MUCH MUCH worse. They did not:

  • Remove the chance to make Diamond by spending $25,000 on a Delta AMEX (plus MQMs/MQSs)! – This is a great perk. It is NOT hard to do for those who read the blog. I had mine done in two months last year and plan to get it done in the same time or less next year. You can too. Be happy Delta did not do a United flyer unFriendly move and make it so you can only make up to Platinum with spend exemption with the United card.
  • Increase the MQMs needed (or MQSs) – Delta could have jumped the MQMs by 20% too. To make Diamond they could have said 150,000 miles or 170 segments! They keep it just the same. Thank you Delta – truly!
  • Eliminate rollover MQMs – Many think this could still happen one day and I would NOT be shocked to have it happen. The good news is we have at least another year of it or will for sure know this by 1MARCH or before. So, adding MQMs next year for rollover should be AOK and since mileage runs are just as good next year as this year the fun goes on!
  • Change how MQMs are earned – Delta could have tied MQMs to $$$ spent. They did not or at least did not for now. They could have and may still do this. I am elated this has not happened (yet)!

Or any other number of bad things. Keep in mind folks what is on the way for us for now. It is very much like my fellow BA blogger and friend Brian from “The Gate” commented today:

“As long as Delta Air Lines either profits or saves money with these changes and does not hurt their bottom line with them, they will continue to implement additional changes which may be considered not friendly.” – Brian The Gate

I agree 100%! We should expect Delta to “Keep Descending” and cut cut cut. But as long as we can still, with very little effort, enjoy the perks with Delta doing the work to “thin the herd” for us I am just thrilled and you should be too! I mean the value of the  Delta AMEX cards  just keeps going up and MQD exempt spending will be a MUST for even more each year. – René
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.
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19 comments

  1. I keep thinking …”other than that Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?”
    One piece at a time is no big deal, taken all together in ’14 and these are some decent sized changes.
    Guess I’ll keep blasting away at Kroger/WallyWorld for status. It’s much faster than actually flying.

  2. Haha, your post sums up how demeaning Delta is to loyal flyers. You are overjoyed that Delta did not make further devaluations and make it worthless to fly Delta.

  3. The changes DO hurt the little guy (like me) who does not fly weekly. Hope is lost of making status at the lowest level and THAT will cost them loyal customers IMHO.

  4. Delta makes money on two customers: 1) High spend flyers that frequently buy business class long-haul tickets and 2) High spend credit card users through which they make money not even having to fly you around. Everyone needs to realize they are a higher cost customer and your benefits are going to be cut as load factors climb and their ops people dial in capacity. Frankly I’m surprised they don’t flat out hand out diamond status to people putting $300k a year on their co-brand amex. Assuming they make half a percent from the deal, you’re making $1500 on that guy. With sub 3% OR how many domestic tickets does someone have to fly for them to actually clear the same $1500? The math is pretty straight forward. On a $500 ticket operating at 3% they’re making $15.

  5. Do we realize every time someone writes something that they’re “happy” they didn’t do.. it gives them that idea? Just like when mistake fare e-mail blasts go out.. 90% of airline QA teams are getting those e-mails real time as well.

    The reason people like these changes? To “thin the herd”.. You like the CC waiver can still get you to Diamond? Well, that’s the next thing to go… I assume they’ll have tiers of CC spend waivers.. with Diamond WAAAAAY up there. Just giving more ideas DL.

  6. @Tom – There is a WIDE chasm difference between a mistake fare and the above. Don’t think for a minute any of the things I just mentioned have not been talked about, costs counted, flyer reaction thought about and even tested in focus groups. If DL dumps the AMEX waver there will be very little reason to keep the cards and DL has already really upset AMEX holders with Skyclub changes.

  7. NOOOPE!

    Handwriting is quite clear on the wall for leisure travelers like me. Travelling on cheap fares and gaming the system to get status will be squeezed out. Not waiting for water to reach boiling temperature, I am pulling the eject handles after I spend off points for a summer trip.

    Recommend you shift your focus to business travelers if you want to remain entirely Delta focussed. They’ll stay with Delta because their company has a contract.

    I’ll status-match to Alaska, as a West Coaster it’s a no-brainer. And secondarily Southwest for the East Coast.

  8. @vincente is right. “Travelling on cheap fares and gaming the system to get status will be squeezed out.” Yes it will be. As a business flyer am I unhappy about that no. Also forget the whole loyalty thing which airline has the best chance of getting you were you need to go. As a business flyer that is a huge deal and in the US there is only one real option.

  9. ……adding to Jason’s points above. In order to achieve Diamond via spend, Diamonds also have to pay $450 x 4 = $1800 in annual credit card fees. Assuming Delta gets some or all of that they make even more money on the non-flyer, spender in addition to Jason’s example. Delta might be an airline but they’re in business to make a profit and not just a profit as much as they can – capitalism has no morals or ethics in and of itself.

    So as Delta maximizes profits by eliminating services or increasing fees I am left with decisions – is it still worth it to me? what are my alternative choices? So far Delta still works – for me at least. I rack up as many MQM’s as I can. If Delta stops rolling over MQMs I will simply focus excess spend/flying to another airline or rewards program to maximize what is in my best interest.

  10. @DDiamond – that is extreme spend and zero flying math but yes it does work. most will do one card with one fee and spend and fly the rest. I do agree an end to rollover would really change things (if they ever do it).

  11. Agreed. I own a small company and structure a significant amount of expenses to be paid on reserve cards so it works for me. I do some mileage runs for fun and MQM cushion. If Jason’s math is correct DELTA or someone makes $3300 profit on my spend. That is the same amount of profit delta would make if I purchased $110,000 in airline tickets every year.

  12. If I understand correctly, the MQMs that you earn by flying are still not going to be determined by actual miles, but by a combination of miles and cost of the ticket. Is that still part of this? In addition, we will still need to meet the new MQD limit?

  13. How much money do delta and Amex make on the fee for the privilege of having their cards and how much do they make because I’m forced to charge at least $25000? Thankfully, my husbands job allows him to charge his business expenses or there’s no way we’d spend that much money. And, I’ve also never paid a dime of interest but how many people can say that?

  14. I’d be ok with the thinning of herd argument if they weren’t so actively harmful to the remaining herd!

    I know this sounds like a first world problem but I’ll say it anyway as a long time Delta loyalist: With so many changes so fast, it just doesn’t feel good to be platinum any more and I don’t see it getting any better. Even though there won’t be as many plats and diamonds to compete with, the monetization of upgrades (with small amounts of money from non-loyal customers) comes right out of the backhide of Delta’s most loyal plats and diamonds (who would otherwise have received a complimentary upgrade). During long flights- to help me through them- I often dream of all the miles I’m earning. That won’t happen next year as distance won’t matter for that. I can’t take an occasional guest into the SkyClub anymore. I’ve been saving up for a RTW trip and now poof that is gone for everyone!

    I know how you feel Rene. If I could ask one favor at all from the airline we have been so loyal to, it would be this- Can we have a moratorium on “enhancements” for one year? Allow us to catch our breath at least!

  15. It’s a bit funny saying things are bad but they could be a lot worse. Delta is smart enough to slowly heat up the water in the pot us frogs are swimming in instead of pouring in boiling water. Sooner or later, we will all be cooked and, looking back, will wonder what happened? Rene, we do appreciate you, but I’m sure Delta IHQ does as well, as you keep reminding us “it could be worse.”

  16. I am also happy with keeping the spend on the DL Amex in place. If they ever go back to the reduced MQMs based on fares like they had about six or seven years ago, I will leave them again. At the time, I left Delta and went to US Air.

    If they do it again, this time I think I will look at switching to United, as they are now partnering with Marriott and I am Platinum with them and that gives me automatic Silver on UA. They have a deal UA/Marriott like DL/SPG. I would never make Diamond in a year and have been Gold the last 3 year with a 1/2 chance to make it to Platinum this year, depending if work sends me to California or not.

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