Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Delta Adds New Elite-Status Top Level; Elite Miles Rollover from Year to Year

Delta Air Lines is slapping a new status level, Diamond, onto its SkyMiles elite-status program.

Does that improve the program or dilute it further for platinum-level members who will be lower in priority for upgrades, but even for the lowest-level members who will drop one place in the pecking order?

Hmmm. You decide. Seems to me this is a definite bonanza for the dwindling number of heavy-duty fliers who remain loyal to a particular airline for whatever reason and who are out there slogging away at 125,000-plus miles a year. And the rollover feature seems to be good for everyone, though it also seems to me that it will help dilute the program simply by making its membership bigger.

Also, under the current system, where elite-qualifying miles vanish at year’s end, at least the herd was culled a bit, year to year.

“We’re keeping the benefits that mean the most to our Medallion members and adding others that surpass what any other airline offers,” said Jeff Robertson, Delta’s vice president of loyalty programs. “Features introduced in 2010 will provide SkyMiles Medallion members meaningful, unmatched benefits on flights to nearly 400 destinations across six continents.”

Yeah, yeah. So what’s the deal?

—Diamond Medallion Status: A fourth Medallion level for flyers who get 125,000 elite-qualifying miles, which Delta calls MQMs, or who fly 140 segments per calendar year will offer free Sky Club membership, 125 percent mileage bonus for purchases, award booking and baggage fee waivers and other exclusive rewards.

—Rollover MQMs: Delta is the first airline to allow customers to retain any MQMs earned above a Medallion threshold at the end of the year, supplementing the ability to earn status the next year. For example, if you accrue 40,000 MQMs in one calendar year, the 15,000 MQMs that exceed the 25,000 MQM Silver Medallion threshold will be rolled over to the following year. There is no limit to the number of miles rolled over, and the benefit and takes effect immediately.

—Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members will have ticketing fees waived for all bookings, whether completed by phone, online or in person.


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