Delta Air Lines Makes Mileage Program 20% More Expensive, Eliminates Upgrades For Discount Tickets
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Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines continued the bloodletting in its SkyMiles mileage program late last week, announcing new qualifications for earning elite status in their 2016 program and eliminating upgrades on some deeply discounted fares
. The changes come after the airline reinvented their SkyMiles program
earlier this year to include a revenue component to any earned elite status — no longer could a passenger earn silver status after flying 25,000 miles, for example, to qualify for the 2015 program the passenger would have to fly 25,000 miles and
spend a minimum of $2,500 on the airline.
Apparently the revenue requirement for the 2015 program was not steep enough. On Thursday, Delta quietly raised the spending requirement for their 2016 program as such:
- Silver from $2,500 in 2015 to $3,000 in 2016
- Gold from $5,000 in 2015 to $6,000 2016
- Platinum from $7,500 in 2015 to $9,000 in 2016
- Diamond from $12,500 in 2015 to $15,000 in 2016
Passengers thus flying on Delta in 2015 and earning status for 2016 will be required to spend a minimum of 20% more than they did in 2014. The minimum spends are also in addition to the 25,000, 50,000, 75,000 and 125,000 respective miles that additionally need to be flown in order to qualify for elite status in each tier.
English: “Fly Delta Air Lines” marker (Photo
Past the increased revenue requirements, the airline also revealed that it will be eliminating upgrades
on a portion of its deeply discounted economy tickets
. Traditionally, the legacy airlines have allowed almost all revenue tickets purchased on their site or through an online ticket
agency to be upgraded either with miles or some sort of elite status instrument. Low cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier, however, have been able to compete against legacy fares by offering no-frills seats with high ancillary fees and no upgrades. With this move, Delta is trying to similarly compete on price while cutting back on perks, and the fare
classes to which the upgrade exclusions apply will only be on routes
directly competing with low cost carriers.
The changes are also reflective of the shift that Delta is making away from the budget-focused consumers and towards the highly lucrative business travelers. With new, premium cabins rolling out left and right, continued belt-tightening in its mileage program and new inflight entertainment options
, the airline is anxious to show off that it’s America’s premium carrier. Whether or not that carrier will have any loyal remaining customers at the end of its SkyMiles changes is still to be determined.