Skymiles 2015 – what you think you know, what the facts are & some year end Q&A

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This is in some ways a rookie day, just not on Wednesday. The reason for this post today is that most rookie posts are just explaining some travel idea clearly. Most of what Skymiles2015 is is just not what people think it is.

I get the same questions over and over in e-mail and on twitter about the changes and about what will happen each “year end”. In fact, if you are reading this because I just sent you this link, just keep reading as somewhere in this post is the answer to your question. 😉

  • Elite MQMs in 2015 will be based on dollars spent plus status, right? NO! Delta has done just a horrible job conveying this and I think if you asked 100 medallions in a blind test coming off a jet they will tell you what was just asked. If you want to see how elite MQMs will be earned next year, just look at ANY of your flights from this year because it is EXACTLY the same. In other words, there will be NO CHANGE at all next year. (Don’t shake your head at me thinking you know you saw it was changing, cuz you are wrong). The only thing that is changing is how we earn Skymiles, not elite points or MQMs.
  • With Vanilla reloads almost gone & Amazon Payments done, meeting MQD exempt spend will be really hard! NO! What everyone needs to understand is, like every year that has passed, what AMEX says is authorized charges is what is reported to Delta. Sure losing the ULTRA simple spend choices is disappointing, but it in no way makes it much harder. The only real change is it may, again may, cost you a few bucks now where the old way it was free or even simple to earn a few dollars along the way. THIS post talks about what works and will be re-tested next year as well.
  • Since my elite year ends on 1March (1FEB in 2016), I have till then to earn my status for 2015 or? NO. Your elite earning year is from 00:01JAN-23:59DEC scheduled departure time each year. Unless your flight is between those 365 days you will not earn any elite points (MQMs & MQSs) on the current year of flying.
  • If I earn Platinum medallion status by 1July2015 I will get to pick a Choice Benefit both next year and in 2016? NO. The important thing to keep in mind is you are not earning status for the current year, that is, you ARE earning for the next medallion year. So, in the case you mention you are earning your 2016 status as well as the choice benefits for 2016. You simply get to enjoy the perks of being a Platinum for the remaining months of 2015.
  • If I give my wife / +1 silver or gold medallion status do they have to worry about MQDs? NO – sorta. I say that because they don’t have to worry about spending even one dollar in MQD during the gift time period and enjoy the perks of being medallion. I say sorta because they will not rollover MQMs unless they also meet the requirements like the rest of us i.e. they get no rollover perks unless they EARN the status also.
  • Delta said we could book one-way award tickets in 2015. Why can I not book them now for 2015? Because they will not allow it until 1JAN2015. Oh, while we are on the topic, I get a TON of questions about PM & DM’s booking now for a one way they want next year, pick just “whatever” dates for the return, then at some point dumping the return and getting 50% of the miles back. That could work and should work but there will likely be some complications resulting in a HUCB situation. They may say you must cancel and “hope” they go back into inventory. I would tell the rep “I think I will just wait” and HUCB and get a rep to get you to the reissue desk and have them dump the return and reissue with ½ the miles!
  • I have so many miles, can I just sell them or sell tickets? NO. This is an extremely bad idea. While it is true you absolutely can giveaway free tickets to friends of yours, either traveling with you or without you, if you happen to have 50 “friends” all over the USA you will likely find your Skymiles account closed, the tickets voided (even if they are mid-flight) and a bunch of angry friends calling you from wherever in the world they are (now stranded and they will have to buy a one way ticket to come home btw)!
  • I see Delta has some 1st class seats on jets. I thought they only had business class. Oh, and is BE the business class seat? Delta has a great way of making simple things sound really hard. Delta has no 1st class seats; that is, Delta has no 1st class seats like other airlines 1st class seats (hello Lufthansa). Delta has domestic business class seats they labeled 1st class, but they are just a business class seat. They also have international business class seats. They label those BE or “business elite” seats. They are almost always full flat seats. There are times you will be able to fly a BE seat inside the USA if the jet is moving around or finishing a flight with a stop. Also be aware, for now, most of the BE jets don’t have GoGo so that is the trade off (one I will make ANY day btw).
  • You keep saying few will be better off under Skymiles2015. I have run my numbers and I will be much better off. Good for you! I bet, btw, if you are using the Delta calculator you are using the full ticket price and forgetting to take the tax off 😉 Beyond that, the only reason you are going to do better is because you are overpaying. I can make SO many more miles other ways at a fraction of your cost. So, if you are willing to give me $100 bills for $50 in return I will fly down and we can do that all day long (since you so love overpaying for things). Always know the only one who wins under Skymiles2015 is Delta.

These seem to be the most common questions I get about Skymiles2015, about year end, and maybe even daily Q&A from readers. Have other questions you have always wanted to know about Delta – ask away! – René

PS- Don’t forget I am giving away a GOLD BAR this week!

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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  1. I flew business-elite to/from Toyko. Each flight had wireless internet across the entire Pacific on the 747. It was only like $25, too. Pretty darn reasonable for 14 hours of internet. I don’t understand why Delta can’t do this over the Atlantic. On the same token, if I’m paying $8,000 for business-elite to Toyko or London (not unheard of), I should get free internet.

  2. Rene: I continue to be a fan of your blog! However, I’m not a fan of clicking on links in the email to read each article in your blog–I much preferred the previous format where I could read the entire article (or articles!) in one sitting. Sounds lazy, I know, but it made things simpler.

  3. @Chris – The change had to be made. There are apps to download the full posts. Try those? That change is permanent.

  4. Rene, just wanted to say, while i enjoy your blog, I don’t agree with your statement “Beyond that, the only reason you are going to do better is because you are overpaying.”

    I fly 2-4 times a month, DCA-ATL-DCA, and I will do far better in the new program, and it’s not because I am overpaying. I pay in the neighborhood of $300 per RT (pre-fees) when buying a few weeks in advance, and when I need to go last minute, closer to $600. I receive 547 base skymiles for my one-way journey, or 1094 with the PM bonus. That comes out to 2188 for a round trip. Now, when using my SkyMiles Amex, I’ll receive 13X, I’ll receive a minimum of 3900 skymiles, moreso when booking at the last minute.

    Would you say that I am overpaying?

  5. Will Open Jaw + Stop Over still be available at the roundtrip price (I.e. 3 one ways for the price of a roundtrip)?

    I hope so

  6. @asdfasdf – Don’t we all. Not just that, but what about expanding it with one-ways. Could (not holding my breath) things get even BETTER?

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