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WebFlyer Home > Programs > Ratings & Reviews

Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)


Delta Air Lines SkyMiles


5.22
(1492 ratings)

7.43

This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in February 2010. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

The Largest FFP in the World

Delta was one of the first airlines to launch a frequent flyer program. When the program was launched in 1981, it was called "Frequent Flyer" but the name was changed to the more distinctive "SkyMiles" in 1995. In 2000, the airline was one of the founding members of the global alliance, SkyTeam, partnering with AeroMexico, Air France and Korean Air.

The airline made headlines with its acquisition of Northwest Airlines in 2008, and the Delta SkyMiles and Northwest WorldPerks programs officially merged in October 2009. Also in 2009, Delta Air Lines celebrated 80 years of passenger service. SkyMiles is now the largest frequent flyer program in the world with more than 74 million members. The program has won over many travelers but has also angered many to the point of saying that Delta stands for "Driving Every Loyal Traveler Away". There have been many changes put into place for Delta SkyMiles over the last few years and as we all know, not everyone welcomes change.


EARNING ABILITY:

5.61
Our
Rating:

8.00
On Delta, Delta Shuttle and Delta Connection flights, SkyMiles members earn the actual miles flown or a minimum of 500 miles (it's the only legacy carrier to still offer 500 minimum miles for all members). Members flying in full-fare coach, first or business class earn a 50 percent bonus; flying on partner airlines earns actual miles flown for most, often with a 500-mile minimum, and usually a 50 percent bonus in first or business class, depending on the airline. Some airline partners offer a smaller percentage of miles flown for discount fares.

SkyMiles members can also earn miles through credit card spending, hotel stays, car rentals, vacations, cruises, dining, shopping, financial transactions and more.

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AWARD CHOICES:

4.89
Our
Rating:

7.50
Members can earn and redeem miles on more than 16,000 daily flights offered by SkyTeam and other airline partners. You can choose from over 350 destinations in 60 countries and six continents.

In 2008, Delta introduced a three-tiered award structure. The lowest level, capacity controlled, "Low" coach awards are 25,000 miles for roundtrip travel within the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada, which lines up with the rest of the industry. A second "Medium" tier offers more availability on domestic routes at 40,000 miles and the final third tier, called "High", allows members to redeem any available coach seat for 60,000 miles. If you prefer to fly in premium cabins on the same routes, the redemption would be 45,000, 80,000 or 100,000 miles. To Europe or Southern South America, the cost for a roundtrip coach is 60,000 (low), 90,000 (medium) or 125,000 miles (high). Other legacy carriers offer saver coach roundtrip awards to Europe at lower rates such as the 40,000-mile off-peak award on American (60,000 miles for peak) or 55,000 miles on Continental and United. Round-the-World award tickets are available for 180,000 miles for coach, 280,000 miles for business class and 340,000 miles for first class. One stopover is allowed per award, with an open jaw considered as a stopover. Round-the-World awards allow a maximum of three stopovers per continent, not to exceed six.

Members can combine award cabins for an award ticket--you could fly out in coach and return in business or first and also combine low, medium or high mileage redemption rates. But you cannot redeem your miles for one-way awards.

When you are making your award reservations online, you will be able to see which award levels are available for your dates. Medium and high awards are only available on Delta or Delta Connection carriers, not partner airlines. The fine print mentions, "Awards with partner airlines may require higher rates or a Saturday night stay. Awards may require higher mileage depending on routing rules and restrictions." And, "Travel to all destinations within region may not be available at minimum mileage rate."

If your flight does not originate in the continental U.S., Alaska or Canada you will more than likely be required to spend more miles for flights in the same geographical areas. How much more isn't specified on the online award charts. For example, you may have to pay more miles to fly roundtrip from London to New York than roundtrip from New York to London.

Pay with Miles is an award feature available exclusively for SkyMiles members with a Gold, Platinum or Reserve Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. One-way, one-class upgrade awards on Delta within or between the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada are 5,000 miles from full-fare coach and 12,500 from other select fares and from 15,000 to 25,000 miles on flights between the U.S., Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean or Mexico and Europe. Upgrade awards on many SkyTeam member airlines are also available when flying on full-fare coach ticket (Y). There is no co-pay required for upgrade awards.

Members can also spend their miles at the SkyMiles Marketplace which in 2010, has expanded to offer hotels and car rentals in exchange for your miles as well as such items as a Nintendo Wii Bundle for 58,900 miles or an iPod nano or Titleist Pro V1 golf balls--the list goes on. The SkyMiles Marketplace offers appliances and electronics, sports and leisure apparel and luggage, handbags, jewelry and more.SkyMiles also offers quarterly auctions, magazine and newspaper subscriptions and Delta Sky Club membership fees for mileage redemption--general members can get an annual lounge membership for 70,000 miles. Members can also donate miles to nonprofit organizations such as the American Cancer Society, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and 16 more through Delta's SkyWish charities starting at a minimum 1,000 miles.

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PARTNERSHIPS:

5.48
Our
Rating:

7.50
As mentioned earlier in this review, Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance, which currently includes Aeroflot, AeroMexico, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, China Southern, CSA Czech and Korean Air and associate airlines Air Europa and Kenya Airways. Delta also partners with non-alliance airlines Alaska Airlines, Avianca, China Airlines, China Eastern, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines and V Australia.

Hotel partners include over 100 hotel brands including Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood. Mile offers range from one to three miles per dollar spent or 100 to 1,500 miles per stay, depending on the hotel.

Delta partners with car rental agencies Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, E-Z Rent-A-Car, Hertz, LimoRes, National, Sixt, SuperShuttle and Thrifty with most offering 50 miles per day and 500 miles per rental of five or more days. The exceptions for better earnings are Europcar offering 60 miles per rental day and E-Z Rent-A-Car offering 100 miles per day.

SkyMiles offers several co-branded credit cards including the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, which offers elite qualifying miles with your credit card spend, as well as the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and Classic and Option versions of the card along with check cards and business cards.

Delta also participates in the Diners Club and American Express programs and with both, SkyMiles members can transfer points to miles on a one-to-one basis starting at 1,000 points to 1,000 miles.

With SkyMiles Dining & Hotels by Rewards Network, members can earn up to five miles for every $1 spent when dining at participating restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. There is also a dining program for residents of Japan. You can also earn one mile for every $1 spent with participating dry cleaning merchants when you use a credit card registered with SkyMiles Clothing Care. SkyMiles wireless partners include AT&T, Nextel, Spring, T-Mobile and Verizon wireless and you can earn 4,000 miles when you activate a new phone and rate plan. Members can earn miles with most major cruise lines. Delta also has an extensive list of retail partners including Netflix, Bose, Vinesse Wine Clubs and numerous merchants at SkyMilesShopping.com; including shopping sites for the U.K. and Japan. Members also earn five miles per dollar spent on products purchased at SkyMall.

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ELITE-LEVEL PROGRAM:

5.22
Our
Rating:

8.00
The big change on the elite front is the addition of a published fourth tier in 2010 called Diamond Medallion. Delta is also unique in its elite offer of rollover Medallion qualification miles (MQMs)--all MQMs you earned over your Medallion qualification level at the end of the year will roll over to your MQM balance for the following year. MQMs include miles earned from qualifying flights on Delta, Delta Connection, Delta Shuttle, SkyTeam partners and Alaska Airlines and are earned based on the fare class and distance flown.

The first Medallion elite level is Silver obtained with 25,000 MQMs or 30 Medallion qualification segments (MQSs) in a calendar year, which offers unlimited complimentary upgrades from full Y fare at booking and one day out for discounted fares. The elite-level flight bonus for Silver members is 25 percent. Silver members also receive waived baggage fees and a host of the usual elite benefits such as priority waitlist and seating. Silver members receive SkyTeam Elite benefits.

The second Medallion level, Gold, comes with a 100 percent elite-level flight bonus and is earned with 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs. Members can confirm their upgrades on discount fares three days out, are offered same-day standby and waived direct ticketing charges and get SkyTeam Elite benefits, the same SkyTeam level as the first level Medallion members that offers such benefits as preferred seating and priority boarding on SkyTeam flights.

The third level is Platinum which is earned when members earn 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs. Along with all the benefits for Gold members, Platinum members receive waived redemption fees and two waived award redeposit/reissue fees and can choose one from a list of choice benefits such as four systemwide upgrades, 20,000 bonus miles, gifting Medallion Silver status, and more. Platinum members can confirm their upgrades five days out and receive Elite Plus SkyTeam status, which includes SkyTeam lounge access. At one time, Platinum members had exclusive access to a Medallion Marketplace but it has been replaced with the new SkyMiles Marketplace.

The fourth level, Diamond, offers all the benefits of Platinum with more elite flight bonus miles at 125 percent. Diamond members are welcomed in when they've earned 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and receive the highest priority when it comes to upgrades and waitlists, and get all award redeposit/reissue fees waived. They also are offered a VIP phone line and can choose two of the Choice Benefits such as gifting Gold Medallion status and more. Diamond members also receive complimentary lounge access--all other Medallion levels offer discounts on lounge memberships.

All Medallion elite-level members get 50 percent more miles and MQMs on first, business and premium coach flights as well as the ability to rollover MQMs.

The Million Miler program is in place for those who really rack up the MQMs. You get annual Silver Medallion status when you reach one million MQMs, Gold with two million and those who earn four million plus get annual Platinum status.

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RULES AND CONDITIONS:

4.55
Our
Rating:

7.00
Miles will not expire as long as a member earns or redeems miles at least once every two years. Miles may be redeemed for award tickets in the name of passengers other than the SkyMiles member. Award tickets redeemed less than 21 days prior to departure will incur a fee from $75 to $150 (waived for Platinum and Diamond Medallion members and some co-branded credit card members). The award ticket redeposit/reissue fee is $100 for all members except third-tier Platinum elite members who get two free (when requested) and $50 thereafter; Diamond members always get the fee waived. A $20 "direct ticketing charge" is added when you call to book your award flight; the fee is $35 at Delta ticket offices and Gold Medallion members and above are not charged this fee. Members cannot pool their miles between accounts, but can transfer miles between members in increments of 1,000 miles, up to 30,000 miles per member. The cost is $0.01 per mile with a $30 processing fee per transaction. You can also purchase miles in 2,000-mile increments at a rate of $0.028 per mile (plus taxes) up to 60,000 miles per transaction, per recipient.

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SERVICE SUPPORT:

5.20
Our
Rating:

7.00
SkyMiles members can contact customer support via email at delta.com, fax, mail and through a toll-free telephone number. We emailed a basic question through the Web site and did not hear back. When we called customer service for a test call, we were on hold for approximately 11 minutes and our question was answered quickly and correctly if not in an overly friendly tone. Members we've heard from rate the customer support as neither really good nor really bad and several elite-level members stated that they get better service as an elite member of other programs.

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ONLINE SERVICES:

5.57
Our
Rating:

7.00
Award travel reservations are available online for travel on Delta, Delta Connection, Hawaiian, Alaska and Air France and there is an award calendar that shows the awards available to book. For travel on other airline partners, you must call the service center. All the other online capabilities are there that you would expect: missing mileage, contacting customer service, buying/transferring miles, changing award flights, change of address, merge duplicate accounts and more.

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PLUS FEATURES:
The newly added fourth tier has been seen as a welcome addition to the program by the most frequent travelers. They have gained lounge access once again (lounge access used to be allowed for Platinum members but was taken away a couple of years ago) but only at the topmost elite level. Upgrade awards do not incur a co-pay, which in some other programs, can really add up. Delta also makes it easy for members to earn lots of miles through partnerships and bonus offers. Delta pioneered the idea of mixing award types, which adds flexibility when it comes time to spend miles for awards.

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MINUS FEATURES:
Very many SkyMiles members feel that the current award calendar is just not working. They report that they are forced to call the service center to find award flights. Delta does not publish an award chart for flights that originate outside of the continental U.S., Alaska or Canada. Credit cards do not offer free checked bags (even the Delta Reserve card with an annual fee of $450) and American Express is not as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard. You cannot use your miles for a one-way award and Delta is still charging close-in award fees.

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INFORMATION:
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
SkyMiles Service Center, Dept. 654
P.O. Box 20532
Atlanta, GA 30320-2532

Phone: (800) 323-2323

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
Our
Rating:
8.00 7.50 7.50 8.00 7.00 7.00 7.00 7.43
Member
Rating:
5.61 4.89 5.48 5.22 4.55 5.20 5.57 5.22

(1492 ratings)

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