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The SkyMiles program run by Delta Air Lines is going through an overhaul of sorts as it transitions from a distance to a revenue-based program.
Along the way, it’s been making small tweaks to how the overall program works, from the cost of some awards to how they can be redeemed. Most recently, the program announced a wider spectrum of partner carriers on which frequent fliers can earn qualifying spend as well as a new tier of inexpensive, one-way mileage tickets now available.
Inclusion of partner carriers in the qualifying spend (or Medallion Qualifying Dollars) calculation is a significant improvement to the program. When Delta originally unrolled its revenue-based program, one of its primary drawbacks was that it was very difficult to earn status on the airline by flying on any of the Skyteam partners. Now, with the ability to credit spend from the likes of Air France, KLM or a handful of other carriers, Delta frequent fliers can feel comfortable taking the occasional partner flight.
Credit from those partner flights will be retroactive from the first of this year.
The other significant improvement coming to the SkyMiles program is a new tier of one-way award tickets that the airline is making available. At their lowest cost, domestic mileage tickets on Delta tend to cost 25,000 miles round trip or 12,500 miles one-way. Now, the airline is releasing a series of 10,000 mile one-way flights on select routes.
Interestingly, nestled within the release from Delta was a 21-day minimum on at least a portion of the least expensive mileage tickets. That very constraint has many including the eliteratti over at View from the Wing concerned. One of the great strengths of having a bank of frequent flier miles for a consumer is the ability to book last-second flights at reasonable rates. Without that benefit, many in the SkyMiles community may sour.
Another unknown is how many 10,000 mile awards will be issued and on what routes. Delta is famous for offering up a laughably small volume of low-cost award tickets and these ultra-cheap one-ways will mostly likely not be an exception.
Still, the most recent changes to Delta’s program do seem to be a positive change for SkyMiles members. In contrast to recent program devaluations and draconian program updates, this news is a welcome change.