Categorized | Airlines

Delta frequent-flier enhancements include rollover qualifying miles…

Posted on 28 July 2009

July 28, 2009 – Delta today announced a broad overhaul of its SkyMiles Medallion frequent-flier program. Changes include enhancements like rollover elite-qualifying miles and a new elite tier of frequent-flier status. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the new perks – aimed at elite-level fliers flying at least 25,000 miles a year – come “as the airline works to retain lucrative business travelers and folds in merger partner Northwest’s mileage program.”


Early reviews of the changes seem to be positive. “We think Delta did more right than wrong with its changes, and believe it will serve the airline well as it navigates its way not only through the merger with Northwest, but this miserable recession as well,” travel analyst Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research writes in a review of the changes.


The idea of rollover miles is perhaps the enhancement receiving the most buzz. Saying that Delta is “taking a page from the cellphone industry,” The Associated Press writes the airline will “allow customers to retain any Medallion qualification miles earned above a Medallion threshold at the end of the year, supplementing the ability to earn status the following year. For example, should a member accrue 40,000 Medallion qualification miles in one calendar year, the 15,000 Medallion qualification miles that exceed the 25,000 threshold for silver status will be rolled over to the following year.”


Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal says the rollover miles “could make it easier for travelers who cut back on business trips to retain their elite status with the airline, which brings coveted perks like first-class upgrades, baggage-fee waivers and priority seating. … But the unique rollover provision won’t be retroactive; customers can’t use 2008 credits to help with re-qualifying this year.”


Another change is aimed at Delta’s most-frequent fliers. The Minneapolis Star Tribune writes Delta is “creating a new elite within the elite: Diamond Medallion status, earned by accruing a total of 125,000 elite miles per year. Benefits of being a Diamond Medallion flier include free membership to the Delta Sky Club, a 125% mileage bonus for purchases and no baggage fees.”


Once added, the Diamond Medallion status will effectively add a fourth-level of elite status within the Delta structure. “As of now,” The Detroit News writes, “the medallion program has three benefit levels — silver, gold and platinum — for SkyMiles members who fly 25,000, 50,000 and 75,000 miles a year, respectively. The levels are also available to passengers who fly 30, 60 and 100 segments.”


The Delta enhancements, along with several other changes, “will be rolled out over the next nine months,” The Cincinnati Enquirer writes, adding Delta “officials said they hoped that the (mileage) carry-over program could start in January.”


Back to the rollover miles, The Cranky Flier author Brett Snyder writes “this development makes for some interesting choices for frequent fliers. Currently, when frequent fliers hit the highest mileage threshold that they expect to be able to meet, they often shift their other travel to other airlines in order to try to qualify in other programs. Now, the higher mileage earning level and the ability to roll those miles over makes for a very compelling reason to keep flying Delta instead. Very interesting move on Delta’s part. I like it.”


Indeed, as Snyder suggests, Delta confirms to the Journal that the rollover initiative is aimed at just such travelers. “Jeff Robertson, Delta’s vice president of loyalty programs, said the idea came out of a customer focus group nine months ago, and Delta sees it as a way of discouraging travelers from seeking elite status on multiple airlines once they hit a threshold on Delta,” writes McCartney of the Journal. “Many customers split their share,” Robertson tells McCartney. “We see customers who midyear hit 51,000 miles [qualifying for Delta’s gold status] and never fly us again the rest of the year. But we know they are still flying.”

Source: USA Today

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Videos, Slideshows and Podcasts by Cincopa Wordpress Plugin