Delta is rumored to be considering making quite drastic and horrific changes to its mileage program, per this FlyerTalk post. The changes would start within the next month or two, and take full effect by the end of the year.
The proposed roll-out would work as follows:
AnnouncementThe Loyalty Program is comprised of two projects that seek to increase revenue and customer loyalty along with
decreasing liability related to unused award miles. Coordinated communication to the general public regarding the
intentions of these changes is paramount to acceptance.Revenue Based Mileage Accrual (RBMA) project shifts the basis for awarding miles to a revenue based accrual approach
Release 0: Support the communication/announcement of upcoming SkyMiles program changes (targeted 1Q12).
Will no longer display distance flown miles for departures after new miles accrual effective date (targeted for 3Q12)
Release 0.5: Provide Mileage Calculator to calculate approximate revenue based mileage accrual based on travel
after launch ((targeted 2Q12)
Release 1: Convert SkyMiles System from flown miles to revenue based mileage accrual (3Q12)
Release 2: Reward SkyMiles members with miles for all non-air purchases (i.e. SkyClub, Seats) (currently On Hold)Fare Based Award Ticket Redemption (FBATR) project
Fast Track Release – Provides limited base functionality to align with the Polaris Chicago release timing
Phase I at Launch introduces Fare Based Award Redemption Model, Single Shopping Experience for Customer, New Award Inventory Controls, Cash + Miles Award Redemption Product, Award Redemption for OA, Modifications to the automated Award Refund, Redeposit, and Reissue and Exchange Process
Phase II – After Launch includes Bid for Price Award Redemption Product, Buy It Now Award Redemption Product, Volume Discount Award Redemption Product, Modifications to SkyMiles Branded Mileage Upgrade Products, and Modifications to SkyMiles System-Wide Upgrade Certificates.
So essentially mileage earnings from flying would be a largely distance-based formula, to more of a revenue-based format. And to some extent, Delta already has this in place with paid first and premium fares(specifically M, Q, H, and K fare codes) earning a 50% mileage bonus over regular fares.
Where I think this hits the hardest is you as a passenger, and by extension your elite status, become defined by the fare that you pay. So flying around on cheap T and E fares would be much less advantageous for earning status, in addition to the lack of advanced seating on said fare bases, according to Ben.
Plus, this devalues the use of miles for aspirational travel. The amount of mileage required for award redemptions would be based on the cost, and thus would be come an inapropriatee and (cheap) replacement for replacement for money.
Overall, I think these changes would reflect poorly on Delta, especially given the inability to redeem for international first class, award booking difficulty–both of which have given them the name “SkyPesos.”
Hat tip to The Points Guy.