An internal Delta memo was posted to Reddit yesterday, stating that Delta will announce SkyMiles program changes on September 14th:
As I’ve posted many times, Delta no longer announces devaluations for their SkyPesos program, they just quadruple the rates overnight. So I doubt there’s anything to announce about the redemption side of the equation.
Delta pioneered the shift from earning miles based on flown miles to earning miles based on the fare. There might be changes on the earning side of the equation, but I wouldn’t expect anything major.
Last October, Delta increased the requirements to earn elite status after downgrading status benefits.
And last November, Delta made it much harder to access their lounges, unless you enter via AMEX cards.
I’d say the most likely change here is going to be with elite status. And considering they’re offering training and support, this will probably be a big change.
American successfully pioneered the untethering of elite status from actually flying. Last year they tested it out, while reserving some elite benefits, like systemwide upgrades, to people who actually fly a lot. That test went so well that they dropped all flying requirements this year.
What American calculated was that people who earned their miles from sources besides flying were just as, if not more profitable than people who earned miles from flying. They have signed up for more credit cards and spend more to earn American miles due to being able to earn elite status from spending.
American miles are not worth as much as you can earn from other cards, but adding in the status sweetener without needing to fly has proven to work.
It has some side effects though. In the past, American’s top-tier flyers were experts in navigating the complexities of air travel, but now they can be total noobies when it comes to flying as the status can be earned exclusively from spending.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Delta adopt a similar approach, even if it’s not a carbon copy of American’s program.
I’d guess that would entail the elimination of Delta’s MQDs, MQMs, and MQSs in favor of something much more simple, such as American’s loyalty points currency that is the sole factor for earning status. That may also spell the end of Delta’s rollover MQMs.
That may disappoint some flyers, but Delta’s sales of miles and perks to AMEX are significantly more profitable than their flights. You’ll still be able to earn status from flying, but those requirements alone will likely increase under such a scheme, as they did when American switched to the current system.
Assuming that all comes to be, we’ll see if Delta dips its toes in the water by leaving some elite perks only available to people who fly a lot, as American did last year, or if they will copy American’s program this year that doesn’t give any preference to earning elite status from flying.
There are also rumors of additional major Delta SkyClub access changes, as the previous changes have failed to help with overcrowding and long entry lines.
That may entail limiting the number of annual visits from people who have AMEX Platinum cards or removing paid access for Delta Platinum cardholders. It might also allow unlimited access for Delta Reserve cardholders only if they meet minimum annual spending requirements. There will likely be surprises that we’ll only know once the announcement is made. And of course, those announcements could be made simultaneously or at different times.
What changes are you expecting to see?