Delta introduces new mileage scheme…

I got this email from Delta yesterday:

Hello Mr. Lucky,

We’ve heard you loud and clear. That’s why we are introducing expanded SkyMiles® features and new ways to redeem your hard earned miles.

You’ll soon enjoy:

  • A new “Pay with Miles” option, which allows SkyMiles members with a Gold or Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express to log onto, search for travel, and then choose to pay for eligible tickets with miles, money or a combination of both.
  • A new SkyMiles Award Travel redemption program that will offer three tiers and more flexibility for members. More information coming soon.

Now take advantage of:

  • Booking Award Travel on Delta, Northwest, Continental and (coming soon) Air France at our upgraded online Award Calendar.
  • Redeeming miles for merchandise—TVs, DVD players, hotel stays, golf outings, gift cards—at our Medallion® Marketplace. Now available to all Medallion members!
  • Bidding for front-row seats, hotel stays, white-knuckle excursions and once-in-a-lifetime adventures at the SkyMiles Online Auction.

We are working hard to build the best Award program in the business, and we’re listening to the experts—members like you—to ensure we’re delivering the products you want and the benefits you deserve. So stay tuned. We’re going places in 2008, and we want to take you with us.

You’re the reason we fly,

J. W. Robertson
Managing Director, SkyMiles
Delta Air Lines

Wow, doesn’t that sound awesome on the surface? What sounds incredibly intriguing is the pay with a combination of miles and money option, even if it’s only open to those with premium Delta credit cards. Those familiar with BMI’s mileage program will know what a great deal the cash and points option can be, especially for premium awards. Similarly, SPG is another great example of a program with excellent cash and points redemption offers.

Of course knowing Delta, the first US legacy carrier to get rid of the “standard” award level where you can use your miles (usually double the “saver” level) to get any seat on a flight, I was immediately skeptical. It sounds to me like this new third level might just be a return of that “standard” level, except they’re probably tagging on 50% to what it was before.

After doing some research in the Delta forum on FlyerTalk I found out that apparently the combo option would allow eligible members to redeem miles at one cent per mile (essentially using 10,000 miles for a $100 discount), except you wouldn’t earn miles on the ticket! So if you buy a $5,000 BusinessElite ticket and use 10,000 miles for a $100 discount, you still wouldn’t earn any miles despite paying $4,900!

While I am always looking for reasons to switch to Delta, including the fact that they have a lounge in TPA, they’re the second largest carrier out of TPA (after Southwest, so as far as I’m concerned they’re the largest), and they have nonstop service to the west coast from here, this new scheme is a complete turnoff.

I’ll be curious to see what the exact details of this are as they unfold, but I’m not optimistic at all.


  1. Sounds like United/Chase Choices… except for the “little problem” with mileage earnings on the tickets purchased that way.

  2. What is sounds like is a much more restrictive version of Alaska Airline’s AS50 awards. If you already know about these, Lucky, sorry to re-hash. An AS50 award is open to any Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan member and for 15,000 miles you get half off the price of any ticket (savings up to $250*). You still earn miles for the ticket, too. Alaska recently made these available for one-way tickets.

    * About 5 or 6 years ago there was no $ cap on the AS50. One summer I flew LAX-SEA-FAI-(stop)-SEA-DCA-(stop)-LAX for about $400–and earned miles. Not bad. 🙂

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