Delta Air Lines Cuts Ties With Both e-Miles and e-Rewards

Delta Air Lines aircraft at the international airport in Atlanta in June of 2009. Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

Last week, it was officially announced that you will no longer be able to redeem e-Miles miles for Delta Air Lines SkyMiles as of January 1, 2013.

This week, it was officially announced that you will no longer be able to redeem e-Rewards points for Delta Air Lines SkyMiles as of January 1, 2013.

Speculation amongst FlyerTalk members is that the announcements of Delta Air Lines no longer participating in the e-Miles and e-Rewards loyalty programs are a precursor to the rumored changes in the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program.

Let us step back for a moment and analyze this before jumping to an unsubstantiated conclusion:

First, both e-Miles and e-Rewards are loyalty programs where you earn frequent flier loyalty program miles or frequent guest loyalty program points by taking the time to fill out surveys. While there are differences, both programs are rather similar in general. I have participated in both programs. If you do not mind taking time out to fill out surveys, each loyalty program can be a good way to earn and redeem points for free miles or points in your favorite frequent travel loyalty program in order to keep your accounts active or top off your accounts — or you can redeem what you earn for other rewards, such as gift cards.

Best of all, participation in both e-Miles and e-Rewards is free of charge. All you pay is your time — but if you earn a couple of hundred dollars an hour, or if you have more important things to do with your time, participation in either loyalty program may not be for you.

When referring specifically to Delta Air Lines, you were able to earn SkyMiles with both e-Miles and e-Rewards. However, the main gist of rumored changes to the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program is that it will become more based on revenue and less based on mileage. If that were indeed to be the case, then ceasing participation in both e-Miles and e-Rewards initially does not make sense to me, as you earned SkyMiles, which have little to do with spend contributing to revenue than Medallion Qualification Miles, which determine what level of Medallion elite status you earn for next year.

Rather, the decision by Delta Air Lines may have to do with both the e-Miles and e-Rewards loyalty programs themselves — especially since both announced program enhancements for 2013. For example, Andrew Ellison, who is the executive vice president of e-Miles, Inc., stated as part of an official communication via e-mail sent to its members:

“Beginning in January, you will be able to redeem your e-Miles miles for Amazon.com Gift Cards and Restaurant.com gift cards. We will continue to add even more options in the near future that will include retail gift cards and many more exciting items. And we’re not done yet; we are also going to make it easier for you to redeem your miles.”

To thank you for being a values member of e-Miles, we are offering you a special bonus of up to 250 e-Miles miles. You can earn 150 bonus miles per month in the months of January, February and March, by reading and responding to at least five (5) offers each month. Upon earning the 150 mile activity bonus, you will receive an additional 100 miles for a total of 250 e-Miles miles.”

Similarly, e-Rewards is reportedly enhancing its loyalty program as well:

“If Member’s account has been inactive for twelve (12) months immediately preceding the end of the Membership Year, one-hundred percent (100%) of any unused e-Rewards Currency remaining in the a Member’s account that was earned during the just-ended Membership Year will expire, and will be removed from the Member’s account.”

This appears to be a welcome change from the former policy, where e-Rewards loyalty program points expired at the end of your membership year no matter what —and there was supposedly no way you could prevent the expiration of those e-Rewards loyalty program points from happening.

For some reason, e-Rewards sent an e-mail message to me every year where the expiration date of my e-Rewards loyalty program points was inexplicably extended for another year. In other words, I never had any e-Rewards loyalty program points expire, as they were automatically rolled over year after year.

Still, it appears as though that now you can keep your e-Rewards loyalty program points from expiring as long as there is activity in your e-Rewards loyalty program account during the past twelve months. FlyerTalk members agree that — if the interpretation of the revised policy is correct — this change is indeed welcome and far more fair than the former policy.

Also, as of January 1, 2013, you can redeem your e-Rewards loyalty program points for an expanded list of frequent flier loyalty program miles “from American Airlines, Southwest, and United, as well as other travel partners!” I am not sure at this time if this offer is only for those who joined the e-Rewards loyalty program through Delta Air Lines or Northwest Airlines as a result of Delta Air Lines no longer participating — but the interesting part is that it appears that more than one airline frequent flier loyalty program redemption option will be available, as e-Rewards loyalty program members could only redeem miles or points in the frequent travel loyalty program through which they were invited to join.

For example, if you joined the e-Rewards loyalty program through an invitation from Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, you were unable to redeem your e-Rewards loyalty program points for miles from a different frequent flier loyalty program — although you had your choice of hotel frequent guest loyalty program points for which you could redeem your e-Rewards loyalty program points. Similarly, if you joined the e-Rewards loyalty program through an invitation from Hilton HHonors, you were unable to redeem your e-Rewards loyalty program points for points from a different frequent guest loyalty program — although you had your choice of airline frequent flier loyalty program miles for which you could redeem your e-Rewards loyalty program points.

Questions yet to be answered at this time center around the reasons why Delta Air Lines has ceased its participation with both e-Miles and e-Rewards loyalty programs — both with official announcements fewer than with two weeks advance notice — as well as whether any other current travel partners will also consider ceasing their participation as well.

What do you think?

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • starflyer at 7:12pm December 30, 2012

    Just another example of Delta providing little or no advance warning to changes in their frequent flyer program. I learned my lesson several years ago, and refuse to fly Delta or SkyTeam at all. If a strong frequent flyer award program is important to you, I suggest you do likewise.

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