What is Delta Air Lines “Up To”?

lease pardon the poor grammar in the headline; but an advertisement which appeared during the in-flight entertainment aboard an airplane during a flight operated by Delta Air Lines had a line which read “Who says a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to? Up to 75,000 miles per trip with the new 2015 Sky Miles Program” — and FlyerTalk member HatAndJacket perceived that as misleading.

Well, it is true: you could potentially earn up to 75,000 SkyMiles per trip with the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program in 2015 — but the likelihood of that happening is slim unless you spend:

  • $5,769.23 and have Diamond Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
  • $6,818.18 and have Diamond Medallion elite level status
  • $6,818.18 and have Platinum Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
  • $8,333.33 and have Platinum Medallion elite level status
  • $7,500.00 and have Gold Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
  • $9,375.00 and have Gold Medallion elite level status
  • $8,333.33 and have Silver Medallion elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
  • $10,714.29 and have Silver Medallion elite level status
  • $10,714.29 and no elite level status and a credit card affiliated with Delta Air Lines
  • $15,000.00 and have no elite level status

 

Of course, the key words are “up to”, as illustrated by the list above. Some FlyerTalk members seem to be confusing earning “up to” 75,000 SkyMiles per trip with how many SkyMiles they could earn during a year; but as I first reported in this article on March 6, 2014, you can only earn a maximum of 75,000 SkyMiles per ticket purchased — no matter how much you have paid for the ticket. Spend more than the amounts listed above and you will still only earn a maximum of 75,000 SkyMiles on your itinerary — which some FlyerTalk members find to be unfair.

As I first reported in this article on February 26, 2014, the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program will change to base rewards on the airfares paid by customers of Delta Air Lines rather than the miles — more accurately, “butt-in-seat” miles — being traveled. Delta Air Lines is seeking to reward its highest-value customers with generous redemption earnings of SkyMiles; while those customers who travel on a budget are expected to “feel the most pain” as a result of the impending changes.

Generally, the change is expected to be effective as of January 1, 2015 where members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program can earn anywhere from five to as many as thirteen SkyMiles per United States dollar paid for the base airfare and surcharges imposed by the airline, depending on your Medallion elite status level:

SkyMiles Program Medallion Elite Status Level
SkyMiles Per United States Dollar Earned
SkyMiles Earned Per Dollar With Credit Card on Delta Spend
Total SkyMiles Per United States Dollar Earned
General Five SkyMiles Plus Two SkyMiles
Seven SkyMiles
Silver Seven SkyMiles Plus Two SkyMiles Nine SkyMiles
Gold Eight SkyMiles Plus Two SkyMiles
Ten SkyMiles
Platinum Nine SkyMiles Plus Two SkyMiles Eleven SkyMiles
Diamond Eleven SkyMiles Plus Two SkyMiles
Thirteen SkyMiles

 

This means that on an airline ticket whose base airfare is $1,000.00, a General member of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program without an affiliated credit card would earn 5,000 SkyMiles; whereas a Diamond Medallion member using an affiliated credit card would earn 13,000 SkyMiles.

For travel marketed and ticketed by partner airlines of Delta Air Lines, members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program will earn a percentage of SkyMiles flown as determined by the fare class purchased; and will also earn Medallion mileage bonuses on eligible fares.

As for the redemption of Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, a structure of five tiers — an increase from the current three tiers in order to offer “a wider variety of awards and improve overall availability at the lowest price points” — will be implemented where the lowest level will remain at 25,000 SkyMiles for an award ticket in the economy class cabin for domestic travel within the United States and Canada — excluding Hawaii.

Keep in mind that the concept of Medallion Qualification Dollars towards earning elite status — introduced last year — is unaffected by the latest announcement.

The good news is that you will finally be able to redeem SkyMiles for one-way award tickets; and the lowest level will be at 12,500 SkyMiles for an award ticket in the economy class cabin for domestic travel within the United States and Canada — excluding Hawaii. A “miles and cash” options will also be introduced to the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program.

United Airlines followed suit with a virtually identical reworking of the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program — and to protest those changes which are expected to be in effect as of March 1, 2015, the first Thursday of every month has been proclaimed “No Fly, No Buy United” Day which started as of Thursday, December 4, 2014, according to this Internet web site known as untied.com.

Unfortunately, the words “up to” are considered de facto nomenclature in the marketing departments of many companies these days, which employs an all-encompassing idyllic scenario that in reality is rare or atypical extreme; and earning “up to” 75,000 SkyMiles per trip is no exception.

Regardless of the fact that there is nothing illegal or technically unethical about advertising that you can earn “up to” 75,000 SkyMiles per trip, do you agree with HatAndJacket that the statement is misleading — especially for passengers who are not knowledgeable about the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program of Delta Air Lines?

4 thoughts on “What is Delta Air Lines “Up To”?”

  1. Darth Chocolate says:

    Anybody that thinks they will earn the maximum on each and every flight needs to have their head examined.

    Not misleading at all.

  2. Jason says:

    The credit card earning doesn’t count towards the cap. Only spend and elite bonus

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for the clarification, Jason. I do not have the credit card…

  3. Brandon says:

    Charge your spending to the Amex Gold card instead. Then you’ll get 11 miles to the dollar + 3 amex MR points instead (for Diamond members).

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