Delta Introduces Rollover Miles

I’ve decided to put a very early Tuesday post out this week. In fact, it’s still Monday here on the west coast. But since Delta took the time to brief me about their 2010 SkyMiles changes, I figured I’d put my post out the second they lifted the embargo. So here we are.

Besides adding a new Diamond tier for super cool, awesome frequent fliers (comes with knee pads to give to customer service employees to use when kissing your butt), they’ve done something pretty interesting. They’ve become the AT&T of the airline industry by adding rollover elite qualifying miles.

So how does the rollover game work? Well, any miles you fly above and beyond the threshold for elite qualification, you get to use to qualify the following year. For example, let’s say you flew 40,000 miles in 2010 – not quite the 50,000 you need for Gold status, but far more than the 25,000 you’ll need for Silver. With other airlines, those 15,000 extra miles don’t do anything for your elite status, but now Delta’s program lets you start off your 2011 qualification efforts with 15,000 miles in the bank.

This only works if you reach that 25,000 level. In other words, if you had a total of 10,000 elite qualifying miles in 2010 (which gets you absolutely nothing), you can’t carry those over to 2011 with the hope that after a couple years you’ll eventually reach Silver. That’s smart for Delta to do that, because otherwise they’d end up with way too many Silver members and that dilutes the benefits for those who actually are frequent fliers.

This development makes for some interesting choices for frequent fliers. Currently, when frequent fliers hit the highest mileage threshold that they expect to be able to meet, they often shift their other travel to other airlines in order to try to qualify in other programs. Now, the higher mileage earning level and the ability to roll those miles over makes for a very compelling reason to keep flying Delta instead. Very interesting move on Delta’s part. I like it.

But these aren’t the only changes coming in 2010. Looking through the list that Delta sent me, SkyMiles members don’t seem to be losing anything this year. It’s still a 24 month mileage expiration policy, upgrades are still free for elites within North America and northern South America, and everyone still gets 500 miles minimum on every flight. There are, however, a few new things this year besides the rollover.

  • Gold, Platinum, and Diamond elites will now get complimentary upgrades on award tickets as well as on paid tickets. (I believe Northwest already had this benefit.)

  • Gold, Platinum, and Diamond elites will have fees waived to book through the phone reservations line. (Another Northwest benefit.)

  • Platinum members get to choose one of the following – 4 systemwide upgrades (less than last year’s 6, but now redeemable on day of departure), 20,000 bonus miles, Gift of Silver elite status to a friend, 4 Sky Club day passes, Travel/retail gift cards

  • Diamond members get to choose one of the following – 6 systemwide upgrades (now redeemable on day of departure), 25,000 bonus miles, Gift of Gold elite status to a friend, 6 Sky Club day passes (which would be a dumb choice since they get complimentary membership), Travel/retail gift cards

So, it’s another day of good news for frequent flier mileage junkies. I’m happy to see Delta incorporating some of the benefits Northwest frequent fliers were already enjoying, and I think this rollover idea is pretty cool. Nice work.

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41 Comments on "Delta Introduces Rollover Miles"

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Chris
Guest
As a current? Diamond (at around 150K MQM’s) I think I can speak for the majority of FlyerTalk members (at least based on conversations last night) and say I’m underwhelmed. The only new benefits were ones that were removed from DL or NW Platinum members over the past 3 years or so. – Free SkyClub access used to be a DL Plat benefit until (I believe) 3 years ago. – 125% bonus mileage for Plat was a NW Plat benefit until 1/1/09 – 6 Systemwide Upgrade Cert’s were a DL Plat benefit until this year The ONLY real change is… Read more »
Gary Leff
Guest
Delta needed to do this because they have too darned many Platinums. – You can earn 70k qualifying miles a year based on credit card spend if you’re a high enough charger using the right combination of cards. – Add in a handful of Hilton stays and you could make Platinum without ever stepping foot on a plane. – Combine all the DL/NW elites, and their route network, and you have a ton of Platinums. Failing to be upgraded. The rollover benefit is smart. The rest is unimpressive. Delta’s new 125,000 mile top tier is far less rewarding than United’s… Read more »
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[…] to the rollover miles, The Cranky Flier author Brett Snyder writes “this development makes for some interesting choices for frequent […]

250k flier
Guest
I’m a UA Global Service 1K member and I think DL has some pretty sweet options. I’d certainly consider switching more of my flying to DL if they offered more nonstops to more cities from where I live. First, the “confirmed” upgrades on UA (and AA) aren’t always available – the inventory has to be there, and even in this recession it’s not always possible to get the “confirmed” upgrades. I’ve had pletnty of flights where my so-called “confirmed” upgrade is cleared at the gate. DL also tends to have larger premium cabins on its domestic fleet than UA. UA… Read more »
David
Guest

Delta are going out of their way to brief you prior to the embargo release…. sounds like PR people are beginning to notice you !

David SF eastbay
Member
When will the airlines learn to start rewarding people who spend the most money and not just those that fly a lot. Business travelers usually work for a company large enough to have discount contracts with the airlines so the traveler must travel on those airlines. Why reward them so much when most don’t have a choice who they fly, so it’s not that an airline needs to woo the people they are giving contract discounts to, that’s why there’s a contract. Why should they treat the guy in seat A who travels alot and who’s company got a 50%… Read more »
bob
Guest

Actually, I work in consulting for a huge firm and they don’t direct us which airline to fly, car rental company to rent, or hotel at which to stay.

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[…] Cranky: Cranky is also pretty happy with what he sees: “it’s another day of good news for frequent flier mileage junkies…nice work,” which is both true (better than not offering a 4th tier) and not true (when has taking things away and re-instating them become the new benefit?).  Gary Leff from View from the Wing does a number on him in the comments section.  In a nice way, of course. […]

Joe
Guest

The only perk they forgot was to make it easier to find a seat using your FF miles!

davidwhotz
Member

As a NW Gold right now, I’m pretty pumped about this. Most of the things that folks above are complaining about dont’ really affect me. I feel that the rollover will give the most assistance to Silvers and Golds who fly quite a bit but not a ton. I’ve gotten Silver this year, but I’m not sure I’ll get to Gold. The rollover will surely help me get gold next year if I can’t get it this year.

Nick Barnard
Member

David — Its probably a matter of each airline is not wanting to be the first to make that happen. A per dollar spent option makes some more sense than per mile flown, but the industry is now wed to miles.

If you look at all the newer FF programs, none of them are mile based.

malbarda
Member

@ Gary Leff: recent Delta flight from La Guardia – Atlanta: 69 people eligble for upgrade (you can see it at the gate screens) and 3 seats left for upgrade… Nice! Comment from the gate agent (and to your point): “so many new Platinum Elite members due to the merge with NWA”.

Personally, I can’t wait for my Diamond card. And will wait and see what they will offer once I break that ceiling…

Oliver
Guest

@David SFeastbay — that account type number you’re talking about, that would be your frequent flyer number, no? Surely UA can determine *exactly* how much revenue I brought in this year since each of my flights was credited to MP.

Gary Leff
Guest

@Oliver – it’s actually unclear that UA IT can spit out that information, believe it or not.

250k flier
Guest

Actually, UA, CO, and AA all track a passenger’s financial value, at least to some degree. That’s the underlying basis for the UA Global Services, AA Concierge Key, and CO COSTAR programs.

David SF eastbay
Member

OLIVER – Not everyone has a mileage number, but if you want to think of it like that fine. It would just be a number everyone who books would have for them to track whatever data they wish including to see which people spend the most money.

Even amount frequent flyers with high mileage, should a person who travels 70,000 miles a year be treated better then someone who flys 40,000 but who actually pays more money for those trips?

Brad
Guest

I am old enough to remember when we actually paid for FC and appreciated the cabin/class and service. Now it is all so diluted with upgrades and freebies and as one post said earlier, way too many Platinum Level fliers now to accomodate even a fraction. Diamond Level is Great and Delta is indeed doing the right thing….

Mike
Guest

Last year I qualified for NW Gold. This YTD I am at 60+ segments and I fly in first class over 90% of the time. I fly in first class while 25 or more elite’s file to the back on sold out flights.

I still think the airlines reward those who are currently flying with them every week. I am proof.

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[…] Harteveldt of Forrester Research is downright ga-ga for the changes. – Brett over at Cranky Flier calls it good news for frequent flier junkies. – The Delta Blog is positive. I was really expecting some hard-hitting […]

Dan
Guest
CF, In response to your comment to Gary, if an airline doesn’t want to offer a competitive frequent flyer program, then it shouldn’t bother having one in the first place. You ask when a person living in Detroit is ever going to fly United, and likewise, living in Atlanta would fly American… the answer is: When those airlines go somewhere that Delta doesn’t, or AA’s FF program provides the passenger more value. Delta needs a strong frequent flyer program to compete in the major markets where another carrier doesn’t dominate. When I lived in Los Angeles, United *didn’t* fly non-stop… Read more »
Gary Leff
Guest
@ CF – Agreed, this is not DEGRADING benefits. But if we’re getting excied about THAT then we really have been taken over by the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’. Hah! Rollover is smart. And differentiating 75k eqm’s from 125k eqm’s makes sense, when Delta lets you earn 75k without even stepping on a plane and when they are having huge problems consistently delivering upgrades to curent top tier elites (and thus many of their uber freuqent flyers wind up in back). I’m not saying Delta has to compete with United and American. Just that it’s hard to get excited… Read more »
Bob
Guest

I see upgrades for reward tickets. What about pay with miles tickets? Will pay with miles tickets be eligible for upgrades?

Dan J
Guest
After 4 years with Platinum with NW and my fears have come true — Delta stripped away my 125%, waived unlimited mileage ticket changes, GREATLY reduced inventory on low-tier mileage tickets. Miles worth less, harder to get, and have to pay more for changes… A fair compromise would have been Delta put their top tier at 100K and kept all the NW Platinum benefits from last year. Oh, and give me back some of those PerkSaver seats — you’re killing me with a lack of inventory! I’ll give’em the rest of the year to fix or I’m jumping ship to… Read more »
Ed J
Guest

I am not happy with Delta ever since they merged with NW. Northwest FF program my award year started and ended on the anniversary of when I signed up which meant I always achieved at least Gold with NW. When Delta merged and started implementing their own take on the FF program they changed it to Calendar year not Anniversary year, which meant I was cheated out of 20,000 miles because they ‘reset’ the FF award clock on Jan 1st and my Anniversary was Feb 20th and I alway travel the first of February.

Joe
Guest

Where did my miles go.

Had 36K NW miles and now I have 3K skymiles.

Can someone help?

David SF eastbay
Member

@ Joe:

Joe you did good, when DL took over Western by WA miles went to zero DL miles.

Matt
Guest
@ Chris: I too am totally underwhelmed by the “new” Skymiles program. There is nothing to differentiate the DL program from any other. Yes I will be Diamond when it launches but I need that just to get priority upgrades because of the million Platinums Delta has. For the first time in a while I checked a bag on my business trip today and found out that Delta has even removed priority tagged bags. Me thinks I will take Continental up on their Platinum match and switch. At least I feel Continental appreciates my 200K miles each year.
Uppie
Guest
CF and Joe: I noticed the date as Oct 2nd and that hopefully Delta will get the hiccups out of the system…I don’t think so. I have been communicating via email (no phone number) with the SkyMiles program (not the SkyMiles reservations) and I have not been successful in resolving the mysterious disappeance of 150K miles. All I get is “we are working on reviewing all of the NWA accounts”. Oh we’ll get back to you…right. Since I had a SkyMiles account, I thought that when they merged the two programs that it would be a simple A + B… Read more »
Tyrell Takeo
Guest

So… I assume this is NOT valid for the recent new year? ie, if I went over in 2009, I’m not getting any rollover for 2010?

Uppie
Guest
Tyrell, To be honest with you, I don’t really know what Delta is going to do. I sent a registerd handwritten letter to the director of the loyality program explained my concern. After approximately 3 weeks I get a response back from someone else via emai. Hmmm? Looks like her mail was screened and a staffer responded. Of course same answer, sorry for the inconvience…and no re-capture of my miles…sometime during this 3 week span the FAQ’s on the merger were updated and clarification was added to the merged miles with regards to the MQM. I guess they didn’t realize… Read more »
AT
Guest

Hello fellow travellers.

I earned 129,804 MQMs last year, but was only awarded 4804 rollover MQMs for 2010.

So looks like they used the Diamond level to subtract from my last year’s MQMs. But this does not make sense to me since I am currently only a Platinum for 2010.

I figure I should have got 129,804-75,000(platinum)=54,804 rollover MQMs.

Any thoughts?

bob
Guest

Just rcvd my Crown Club Lifetime Member replacement card…Skymiles member card has no mention of Lifetime Membership….?why? Is this a segue to abolishing lifetime status??

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[…] being a “super elite” flier, which might be easier to attain with Delta’s recent changes to their SkyMiles program. We wrap up with a couple of stories about how frequent travelers squeeze […]

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[…] being a “super elite” flier, which might be easier to attain with Delta’s recent changes to their SkyMiles program. We wrap up with a couple of stories about how frequent travelers squeeze […]

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