Delta Changing to a Revenue Based Earning Program

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For the past few years there has been talk of the major US based airlines changing to a revenue based airline. Unfortunately, the day has come and starting January 1, 2015, Delta will be the first to move to this direction. While you can read the entire Delta news article here, I’ll sum it up for you.

Starting next year you will earn miles based on the ticket price, NOT the number of miles of the flight. The chart above lists the miles you will earn per dollar spent. You’ll earn anywhere between 5 and 11 miles per dollar spent depending on your Delta status and if you have a Delta credit card you’ll earn an additional 2 miles per dollar spent.

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For example, if you purchase a ticket for $300 that is 1,000 miles each way, you’ll earn based on the $300 paid, and the number of miles of the flight is a moot point. Under the current mileage earning program, if you are a general Delta member, you’d earn 1,000 miles each way so a total of 2,000 miles. If you are a Platinum member you’d earn a 100% bonus, so 4,000 miles in total. With the new program being put in place you’ll earn on the base fare of the $300 paid (the fare minus taxes/fees). So let’s assume fees/taxes are $25 (I am just making up numbers here), and the base fare is $275. Starting Jan 1, 2015, you’ll earn 1,375 as a general Delta member and 2,475 as a Platinum member, for example.

For those who are looking to fly cheap this is a huge change and the number of miles you earn will be significantly less. It will be a similar model as Southwest and JetBlue.

However, for those that fly on business and the companies dime, this could potentially work in your favor. I used to fly to Bentonville, Arkansas on a weekly basis and many times flights were over $1,000. While I flew American and not Delta, I actually would have benefited from a revenue based model. It was a 1,145 mile trip and as a Executive Platinum member I earned 4,580 every week. If the Delta revenue based program was in place as I Diamond member I would have earned 11,000 on that $1,000 ticket. Of course though, sometimes I was able to snag the $350 ticket and in that scenario would have earned less then the flight miles.

Based on this Inside Flyer article, it states that the SkyMiles earn ratio is “richer” than that of Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America (three airlines where you earn based on the flight cost). So that is good to hear, although the change is still unfortunate overall.

There will also be new redemption options which I will post about later today.

What do you think about this change? Will you earn less miles going forward? Will you stop flying Delta? Comment below…

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  1. I posted my take on it, but basically I don’t think it’s that bad. Sure, this spells the end of mileage running on Delta, but let’s face it, we all knew that was coming to an end eventually anyways.

    For me, I never did mileage runs anyway and earned most of my miles via CC spend and bonus offers. So for me, there isn’t really that much of an effect.

    I didn’t think about the example you mentioned regarding last-minute business travel (and how expensive it is) actually turning this into a positive change – that’s a good point.

  2. I’m not unhappy at all. My travel’s about 70% business, usually short notice, and the short leg to the nearest hub often adds $400 to my RT fare – so instead of getting 2250 miles (2*500 + 125%), I’ll be getting 4400. Seems like a good deal.

  3. Interesting notion – at the end of the year, shoiuld I be able to simply BUY my status with whatever available balance is required, or are they still going to overcharge the way they did last year?

  4. I was bummed to hear this. For me as a former Diamond since Diamond program started and now Platinum, the difference is negligible with trips from NYC to the Midwest even flying discounted economy fares, but the difference is huge when I think about flying to West Coast or Europe. Delta has a calculator here where one can compare.

    An $800 economy ticket RT NYC-CDG (T or L fare) previously got me 14,500 miles with my status and will now only get me 7200.

    It’s worth noting that MQMs are still based on miles flown FWIW.

    My colleagues are calling this a benefit for the 1%!

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