2015 Delta SkyMiles Program Changes

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Buckle up Delta flyers.  Major changes are coming to the airline's frequent flyer program in 2015.  While the news began to leak yesterday, this morning Delta officially unveiled with 2015 SkyMiles program.  From infrequent fliers to diehard business travelers these changes will impact everyone.

What's Changing: Mileage Earning

Starting in 2015 you will no longer earn SkyMiles based on distance traveled.  Instead, your redeemable mileage accrual will be based on how much you paid for your ticket.  (Redeemable miles are the miles used for award tickets, not elite status)  This change is effective January 1, 2015.  Delta will become the first, and so far only, legacy airline in the U.S. to use this model of dollars to miles.

Under the new program you'll earn between five and 11 miles per dollar spent, based on your SkyMiles member status.  Delta SkyMiles credit card holders will still earn two miles for every dollar spent with Delta on the card.  

Mileage Earning Levels
  • General Member: 5 Miles Per Dollar  (With Delta American Express Card +2 = 7 Total Miles Per Dollar)
  • Silver Medallion: 7 Miles Per Dollar (With Delta American Express Card +2 = 9 Total Miles Per Dollar)
  • Gold Medallion: 8 Miles Per Dollar (With Delta American Express Card +2 = 10 Total Miles Per Dollar)
  • Platinum Medallion: 9 Miles Per Dollar (With Delta American Express Card +2 = 11 Total Miles Per Dollar)
  • Diamond Medallion: 11 Miles Per Dollar (With Delta American Express Card +2 = 13 Total Miles Per Dollar)

 

What's Changing: Award Tickets

Delta claims the changes to SkyMiles are their response to customer feedback.  I'll admit, some of the changes are positive.  For example, starting in 2015 you'll be able to book one-way award tickets.  This is a big positive.  Ticket's will be available at half the mileage cost of roundtrip tickets.  Delta also says a new reward calendar is coming.  This is long overdue.  The current calendar rarely works and it is very difficult to find low level award tickets.  

In addition to the calendar, Delta claims it will be easier to book award tickets.  From Delta: "SkyMiles members will gain even more redemption options with the introduction of up to a five-tier structure to give them a wider variety of Awards and improve overall availability at the lowest price points. The lowest level for SkyMiles Saver Awards will remain at 25,000 miles for an Economy Class Award ticket for travel within the U.S. and Canada excluding Hawaii. All of Delta's worldwide redemption charts will be updated to reflect the new options in the last quarter of 2014 and will be effective for new Award bookings beginning Jan. 1, 2015."

Delta is also promising more award seats on flights.  The program will also continue with no blackout dates.

What's Changing: Medallion Status

Here's one bit of good news, nothing is changing with the way you earn Medallion status.  MQM's will continue to be calculated based on distance traveled.  You will still need to earn MQM's as well as MQD's or MQM's and spend at least $25,000 on a SkyMiles credit card.

Are these changes good or bad?

The SkyMiles program changes are a mixed bag.  The increased award seats, one-way tickets, and a revamped award calendar are all good things.  However, if you frequently buy discounted coach tickets (V, X, L, U, T fares) you will likely see a big decrease in the number of SkyMiles you earn on flights.  

For example: If you buy a JFK-LAX coach ticket today for $400 you would earn 4,900 SkyMiles in 2014.  Under the new 2015 rules you would earn 2,000 SkyMiles.  That's a cut of nearly 60%.  

One more example: If you buy a ticket from JFK-LHR in coach for $1000 you would earn 6,904 SkyMiles under the current rules.  Under the new 2015 rules you would earn 5,000 SkyMiles.

So what does this mean?  It basically means your SkyMiles are more valuable, but more difficult to accumulate.  You can look at fares and miles from your favorite airport by using the online SkyMiles calculator.

Resources

SkyMiles 2015

Click for Delta's Press Release