Kat Aaron is a reporter for WNYC, where she is part of the Data News team.
Delta Changes Frequent-Flier Program, Social Media Erupts
Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 03:19 PM
Delta Airlines today announced a change to its frequent-flier program. The airline will now calculate miles earned based not on how far you fly, but how much you pay for the ticket. And how many miles you accrue varies not just on dollars spent, but on the flier's status in the company's SkyMiles program, according to a Delta press release.
Listen to WNYC's Amy Eddings discuss the changes with Scott Mayerowitz, aviation reporter for The Associated Press.
It's a change to attract more business travelers who often book flights at the last minute or want to fly first class and are willing to pay for it. Or as Delta vice president Jeff Robinson put it, the move "will increase rewards for those who spend more as well as differentiate the SkyMiles frequent flyer program for our premium travelers." It means that soon, the person sitting next to you, flying to the same city, might be receiving a lot more miles than you, if you got a cheaper ticket.
Reaction on social media has been strong.
I fly @Delta all over doing fundraisers & try to save organizations $ by flying coach. Your thanks is to prioritize wealthy frequent fliers— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) February 27, 2014
‘@delta’s changes to skymiles has all but ensured i will NEVER fly their airline again. if I have to go to atlanta, ill fly thru clt or dfw— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 27, 2014
@united Im a Delta Gold flyer trying u out today after the MQM change. Hoping for a good experience.— mitchime (@mitchime99) February 27, 2014
Delta is the only airline to have two hubs in New York City: an international hub at JFK, and a domestic hub at LaGuardia. More than 400 Delta flights fly out of New York on peak days to more than 140 destinations, according to company statistics. Delta also operates 30 flights a day from Newark International Airport.
Under the company's current frequent-flier plan, flights from LGA to SFO earn 5,158 miles. Under the 2015 plan, a $387 economy flight would earn 1,935 miles, according to a calculator on the Delta site. A $1,600 first class ticket on the same flight would earn 8,000 miles.
The announcement did not include information about how rewards will be priced and redeemed. The change takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.
The news came less than a week after Delta was pilloried in social media for telling a woman via twitter that she could not breastfeed without a cover on an upcoming flight. The company later retracted the tweet, and apologized.
Delta also had some positive press Thursday: