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Delta Weakens SkyTeam with New Mileage Policies

Delta Weakens SkyTeam with New Mileage Policies

One of the key features of today’s global airline alliances is the ability to earn redeemable and elite-qualifying frequent flyer miles when flying on an extended network of airlines. In fact, it could be called a defining characteristic of alliances.

Beginning on September 1, that definition will no longer apply to SkyTeam, as Delta rewrites the rules for earning SkyMiles elite-qualifying miles (EQMs), elite bonuses, and class-of-service bonuses on SkyTeam airlines.

No longer can travelers assume that the current Delta bonuses will be uniformly awarded for flights on SkyTeam partner airlines.

With the changes, most flights on SkyTeam carriers will earn fewer EQMs, and in some cases none at all, as follows:

  • No EQMs – Hawaiian, Korean, Malaysia, Olympic
  • Reduced EQMs – Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentina, Air Europa, China, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech, Kenya, Middle East, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam, Xiamen
  • Full EQMs – Aeromexico, Air France, Alaska, Alitalia, GOL, KLM, Virgin Australia

There are comparable changes to the number of elite bonus miles and the class-of-service bonuses SkyMiles members will earn with SkyTeam airlines.

It’s a messy hodge-podge — exactly what mileage earning within a global alliance network shouldn’t be.

Delta flights, of course, continue to award full EQMs, elite bonuses, and class-of-service bonuses, as do code-share flights when ticketed with a Delta flight number (DL1234, for example). As Delta is no doubt counting on, the new policy creates an extra incentive for travelers to choose the Delta-marketed option when flights are operated by an alliance partner.

The changes are a significant negative not just for Delta loyalists, but for SkyTeam, which can no longer boast the kind of consistent mileage-earning policies in place at the oneworld and Star alliances.

Reader Reality Check

Will these upcoming changes affect your loyalty to Delta and SkyTeam?

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  • BurbankBurner

    Sky Miles, aka “Sky pesos”, is by far the worst mileage award program of the major airlines. I used to fly Delta often as it was my first choice. Since the Northwest purchase, I have flown it once. I have not been able to redeem miles for a trip on the first tier of their award scale EVER after having tried numerous times. I no longer care what they do. I always fly with someone else.

  • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

    Strictly speaking most of these rules were already in place (with the notable exception of Korean Air). It’s annoying but at least they’re making it much more clear…

  • rob

    There is no benefit to having miles with Skyteam, it’s almost impossible to use them for anything. When you do want to book a reward flight with them the “compulsory airline charges” are usually more than the cheapest ticket via a good on-line travel agent. Their only purpose, is for Elite Qualification, and there by is another major source of discontent with Delta … being European we can’t get above Platinum status, although it takes more EQM to reach than Diamond for a US Delta flyer, so we are 2nd rate citizens anyway.

  • David

    Since Delta took over Northwest, the program has constantly deteriorated. I have bee Diamond since Diamond was introduced, Platinum before that. My United status needs to be upgraded and Delta down.

  • Al Wu

    Not having a SINGLE airline based in Asia, Africa or the ME for full EQMs? SkyTeam is a global alliance???