Planning to fly one of the three “legacy” airlines left standing in the United States next year? Be prepared for some big changes to the way you earn frequent flyer miles on Delta and United come 2015. American Airlines also introduces changes, although so far it has stopped short of the kind of sweeping overhaul its rivals are rolling out.
Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines announced earlier this year that they would shift to a revenue-based frequent flyer model in 2015. Until now, the person who paid $300 for a flight from Chicago to New York, for example, and the person who paid $800 for the same flight earned the same amount of miles (except for the bonus amounts given to elite frequent flyers.) That’s all about to change in the new year. If you pay more for the ticket, you’ll earn more points. And if you’re higher on the elite status totem pole, you’ll earn more miles, as well.
For basic flyers, the multiplier to remember is 5. From Jan. 1, 2015, you will earn 5 miles for every dollar spent on a ticket if you’re a general member of the SkyMiles program. So a flight from Detroit to Chicago would have earned you 1,000 miles in 2014, regardless of what you paid for the ticket. But in 2015, if that ticket cost you $250, you would actually earn 1,250 miles. If you bought a discounted fare for $150, you would only earn 750 miles.
(The way you earn miles from a Delta-branded credit card does not change, however: You’ll still get 1 mile for every dollar spent on general purchases and 2 miles for every dollar spent on Delta purchases.)
The breakdown for miles earned depending on your elite level is as follows:
General Members: 5 miles/$1
Silver Medallion: 7 miles/$1
Gold Medallion: 8 miles/$1
Platinum Medallion: 9 miles/$1
Diamond Medallion: 11 miles/$1
But don’t think you can reach elite status faster under the new rules. Elite status will still have to be earned based on the number of miles you fly, plus a minimum spending requirement. To reach the Silver level on Delta’s program, for example, you’ll have to fly at least 25,000 qualifying miles and spend a minimum of $2,500.
Delta offers a mileage comparison calculator on its site so you can compare how many miles you would have earned on a particular flight in 2014 vs. 2015. The airline also claims that it will be easier to redeem award tickets next year. See a full list of its SkyMiles awards charts online.
After Delta announced the changes to its program in February, United didn’t waste much time following suit. The Chicago-based airline piggybacked off of Delta’s changes, making a nearly identical overhaul in June. The only difference? United’s new structure will take effect on March 1, 2015.
General Members: 5 miles/$1
Silver Premier: 7 miles/$1
Gold Premier: 8 miles/$1
Platinum Premier: 9 miles/$1
1k: 11 miles per dollar: 11 miles/$1
As with Delta, elite status must still be earned by flying a minimum amount of miles per status segment and spending a minimum amounts. (Those spending requirements, by the way, will increase in 2016, as detailed here.)
So far, American Airlines has not given any clues that it will also shift to a revenue-based program, and most experts expect it to keep changes to a minimum while it completes its merger with US Airways. But earlier this month, the airline announced that it would reward customers who bought higher-priced fares with extra miles, starting Jan. 1.
In addition to the number of miles flown, non-elite flyers will earn an extra 3,000 miles on long-haul flights (though deeply discounted business class fares are excluded). And elite flyers will earn even more. The highest level of AAdvantage flyers, executive platinum, will rack up an additional 12,000 miles per one-way flight on business and first-class fares.
Here’s how the bonus points break down per flight segment:
Regular Members: 3,000 extra miles on long-haul, regular first/business class flights, 250 extra miles on regular short-haul flights.
Gold/Platinum Members: 6,000 extra miles on long-haul, regular first/business class flights, 1,000 extra miles on long-haul, discounted business class flights, 500 extra miles on regular short-haul flights, 250 extra miles on discounted business class flights
Executive Platinum Members: 12,000 extra miles on long-haul, regular first/business class flights, 3,500 extra miles on long-haul, discounted business class flights, 1,000 extra miles on regular short-haul flights, 500 extra miles on discounted business class flights.