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More Hints on the Future of Delta’s SkyMiles Program

More Hints on the Future of Delta’s SkyMiles Program

When Delta announced its new-for-2014 policies governing elite qualification, it added fuel to the ongoing speculation that Delta is in the process of developing a revenue-based program that, like those of Southwest and JetBlue, will reward travelers according to how much they spend rather than how far they fly.

During Tuesday’s quarterly earnings conference call for financial analysts, Delta president Ed Bastian made some impromptu comments that give further credence to that speculation.

Referring to SkyMiles, AP reports that Bastian said that Delta plans to shift the program “to drive the type of customer behavior that we would like to encourage.” He elaborated as follows:

“I think before we didn’t discern between a customer that was a high-yielding customer versus a low-yielding customer. I think that as we continue to evolve those programs we’ll be continuing to favor the higher-yielding customers over the lower-yielding customers.”

That is exactly what a revenue-based program would do, by linking earnings to airfare and pricing awards according to the price of comparable paid tickets.

Although Delta still refuses to officially confirm plans to replace the existing SkyMiles program, Bastian’s remarks make it pretty clear that such a move is in the pipeline.

Now that the “if” part of the question has been answered, at least tentatively, the only remaining question is “when?”

Reader Reality Check

If Delta were to replace the current mileage-based program with a revenue-based scheme, there would be winners (frequent travelers flying on higher-priced tickets) and losers (less frequent travelers flying on cheaper tickets). What would you be: a winner or loser?

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  • AA EXP09

    I hope to see the mass exodus soon.

  • Bob Erickson

    I’m switching to UA. Bye-bye, DL!

  • A M

    The only thing that keeps my Diamond ass with DL is the current system. If it is replaced with anything else, I’ll be flying American whose miles are much more valuable than DL’s.

  • Nick Stamatiadis

    Delta has announced the combined miles and dollars levels in their web page and as a Diamond member since inception I am moving to another program. What is absurd, is the fact that they are not counting total ticket paid but rather the actual fare without taxes! Any suggestions for options between United’s and AA’s? I seriously hope for a mass exodus from Delta, since loyalty means nothing to them:-(

  • KC

    It just means that AA and UA and the such will ALL be moving over to a system like jetblue and Southwest. So to all the DL FF, just stay because your just going to be in the same boat as before.

  • brent

    Don’t know your travel patterns, but as AA EXP and UA 1K, AA treats you better and more consistently in terms of res agents and upgrades, but UA’s miles are worth more because Star is a much better alliance than Oneworld [using miles on BA are useless because of “fuel surcharges”].

  • ChrisCooke

    Initial reports indicate a “work-around” for AMEX Delta SkyMiles card holders who charge a minimum amount. As a Platinum for years, I’ve noticed it much harder to get upgrades for coast-to-coast trips. I’m sticking with Delta for now, especially if the new rules don’t go into effect until 2014. But if I continue having difficulty being upgraded in 12014, I will be investigating American-US Airways (soon to announce their merger) or United-Continental.

  • Laura P Shone

    I am officially done as of this year. I have increasingly been paying for specific comforts, specific trips(transoceanic, worth some $$$), so I will simply shop around for that rather than stick with DL. Except for SM, DL can’t compete with VS on transatlantic comforts, price being equal. DL will hardly be sorry to lose me – I am willing to pay for perks but am in the low five-digit spend most years – higher than Joe-Vegas-Flyer, but not the money flyer, either. I still miss Northwest – and I would still be with WorldPerks if WorldPerks were still of this world!