Crossover Rewards: Joint Loyalty Partnership Announced by Delta and Starwood

Delta Air Lines and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide officially announced today a comprehensive new partnership called Crossover Rewards which offers exclusive new benefits to Delta SkyMiles Medallion frequent flier loyalty program elite level members and Starwood Preferred Guest elite level frequent guest loyalty program members.
Crossover Rewards is effective as of March 1, 2013, and it provides elite members of both frequent travel loyalty programs reciprocal benefits.
The way Crossover Rewards will work is as follows:

  1. Elite members of both frequent travel loyalty programs will be able to share program benefits and earn more SkyMiles and Starpoints
  2. SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members will have access to added benefits, including but not limited to:
    • Priority check-in
    • The ability to check out of the hotel property as late as 4:00 in the afternoon, and
    • Free access to the Internet in the room when staying at Starwood Hotels and Resorts
  3. All Delta Medallion members also will earn one SkyMile per dollar spent on eligible room rates when staying with Starwood in addition to the Starpoints usually earned for their stay
  4. In turn, Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum elite members will receive one free checked bag, priority check-in and priority boarding when flying as a passenger on Delta Air Lines
  5. Starwood Preferred Guest elite members will earn one Starpoint per dollar spent on eligible flights in addition to the miles usually earned for their flight.

You can register for Crossover Rewards by linking your Delta SkyMiles and Starwood Preferred Guest frequent travel loyalty program accounts, and benefits will begin once you have earned Delta Medallion or Starwood Preferred Guest elite status.
Flights already booked on Delta Air Lines and stays already booked at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide hotel properties prior to registration are retroactively eligible for the Crossover Rewards program — but you must have been registered for the Crossover Rewards program at least 48 hours prior to actually checking out of your hotel room or prior to actually being a passenger on an eligible flight. Only flights operated and marketed by Delta Air Lines are eligible for Crossover Rewards benefits. Other terms and conditions apply.
While FlyerTalk members overall seem to perceive the Crossover Rewards program as positive and potentially beneficial, some FlyerTalk members are concerned that elite status in both programs may become diluted, and that the Crossover Benefits program is a “sneak preview” into a future awards program for Delta Air Lines as a whole.
I am not sure that I agree with those concerns. My perception of Crossover Rewards is that it gives incentives to members of both the Delta SkyMiles and Starwood Preferred Guest frequent travel loyalty programs to place more emphasis on being more loyal to those programs with enough benefits without “giving away the store” — but, of course, that remains to be seen once the Crossover Rewards program is under way.
For example, it was rumored that Starwood Preferred Guest frequent guest loyalty program members would be eligible for upgrades on Delta Air Lines on the day of departure. While they would be nice, free upgrades would be a prime example of a dilution of elite benefits for Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Medallion frequent flier loyalty program members. I do not see any of the benefits to be offered diluting the elite level status of either frequent travel loyalty program; rather, I see them as simply earning extra perks without having to pay for them or do anything extra to receive them.
While the benefits you can receive from the Crossover Rewards program are not what I would call outstandingly incredible, I think this program is creative and innovative. Who will say no to extra miles and points? Not me. I cannot imagine that Crossover Rewards will cost much to implement on the parts of Delta Air Lines and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide — and yet, both companies can potentially profit from it.
Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
In fact, I personally intend to sign up for the Crossover Rewards program myself, as I currently do not see any disadvantage to register. There is no cost, little effort is required on my part, and I can potentially benefit from this program.
Will the Crossover Rewards program lead to other partnerships between airlines and lodging companies? What about the addition of a rental car company? Could a program such as Crossover Rewards lead to alliances between airlines and lodging companies similar to airline alliances such as SkyTeam, oneworld or Star Alliance? How will Crossover Rewards affect you?

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