Delta drops SkyMiles expiration policy, upgrades Gold status

Delta Air Lines announced on Tuesday that they have removed the point expiration policy from their SKyMiles frequent flyer program. The change apparently went into effect on January 1, 2011 though it was not announced until six weeks later. This is an interesting move, bucking a trend in the industry to otherwise limit the value of points by making them harder to redeem and les likely to still be around down the line. Only Continental has a similar no expiration policy currently in play amongst the other competitors in the industry and the future of the OnePass program is uncertain (but doubtful) with the United Airlines merger currently in process.

imageThe other significant change to the SkyMiles program that was announced yesterday is that Delta’s Gold Medallion tier will now be considered SkyTeam Elite Plus rather than SkyTeam Elite. This gives those customers a number of benefits, including lounge access when traveling on international itineraries and priority baggage handling. Given that their major US-based competitors all provided lounge access via their similar elite tier this move was long overdue and more playing catch-up than being a leader in the industry. Still, it is a great change for SkyMiles members.

The SkyMiles program has been beaten up of late due to difficulties and, in many cases, grossly overpriced award redemption costs, both in miles required and in associated fees. The changes announced this week certainly do not solve those problems but they do make things a bit better for many members. Not necessarily the folks flying 100K+ miles annually as those folks already had the lounge benefit and weren’t going to have their points expire, but for many more of the masses these are solid improvements to the program.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.