The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Delta will move to a hotel-like (or Southwest-like) revenue-based frequent flyer program in 2015. Inside Flyer has a great rundown on the changes that I don’t need to fully reproduce here. The highlights (such as they are):
– Those with no Elite status earn 5 miles per dollar spent or 7 miles if you use a Delta credit card.
– Those with Diamond earn 11 miles per dollar, 13 if they use a Delta credit card.
– Tickets on other airlines will earn a percentage of miles flown based on the fare purchased.
– Redemption rates stay the same, though you can now book one-way tickets.
This is absolutely awful news for everyone EXCEPT those who fly internationally on business class tickets. I look at it this way: a roundtrip ticket to LA from New York is usually around $400 – I’d earn a paltry 2,000 miles. If I book a business class ticket to Amsterdam, it’s around $7,000 – I would earn 35,000 miles with no status or a whopping 91,000 miles if I’m a Diamond using their credit card. It’s easy to see who they’re going after.
While this is a disaster for mileage runners, sadly enough I earn most of my miles these days via credit card spend (and I suspect you do, too). We’ve seen devaluations for years, and I’d guess United will match this at some point in the next 2 years. Even if United moved to this program, I suspect I’d still fly them to hit mid-level Elite status to guarantee myself Economy Plus seat access. Flying has been the most difficult way to earn miles for a while now – it’s just gotten more difficult.