Delta SkyMiles: New Choice Benefits and Changes to Two Types of Upgrades for 2014

This aircraft operated by Delta Air Lines awaits passengers at the gate at Baltimore Washington International Airport for its flight to Atlanta. Photograph by FlyerTalk member malkie. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by malkie.

FlyerTalk member DwayneSkyMiles — one of the official company representatives of Delta Air Lines on FlyerTalk — announced earlier today several changes to the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program which will begin at the start of the new Medallion program year on March 1, 2014.

Here are the changes which were announced:

Changes to Systemwide Upgrades, or SWUs
Systemwide upgrades will be replaced with two new certificate types on March 1, 2014: Global Upgrades, to be available on all routes; and Regional Upgrades, to be available on the same routes as Medallion Complimentary Upgrades, but have a higher priority. Both Global Upgrades and Regional Upgrades will be valid on flights operated by Delta Air Lines for all paid economy class fares except for E.

  • Diamond Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members may choose either four Global Upgrades or eight Regional Upgrades as one of their Choice Benefits selections
  • Platinum Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members may choose four Regional Upgrades

 

The systemwide upgrades currently in use will still be available as Choice Benefits selections through February 28, 2014; and all the terms and conditions of the existing certificates continue to apply.

Both Global Upgrades and Regional Upgrades are valid for travel twelve months from the date they are issued and expired if not used.

Added Choice Benefits
There will be two new Choice Benefits options available for selection effective as of March 1, 2014:

  • Global Entry application vouchers – Diamond Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members may select two; while Platinum Medallion members may select one
  • Two Tiffany & Co. premium luggage tags for Diamond Medallions SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program only


Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades

Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members will enjoy complimentary upgrades on flights between Hawaii and Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, or Seattle. However — due to significant investments for premium amenities pertaining to the transcontinental BusinessElite experience — Medallion Complimentary Upgrades on flights between John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle will no longer be offered.

2016 Medallion Year Starts February 1, 2016
The Medallion year traditionally begins March 1 each year to allow time for Medallion membership packages to be delivered. With the streamlined production of membership packages and the availability of digital SkyMiles and Medallion cards in the Fly Delta application software, the Medallion year will now begin one month earlier. Starting in 2016, the Medallion year will begin February 1 and subsequently, the 2015 Medallion year will end on January 31, 2016. This means that you will enjoy one fewer month of Medallion elite status for the 2015 Medallion year.

FlyerTalk members expressed mixed reactions to the news — and the reactions vary widely from euphoria to mixed to cautious to downright disgust. For example, it is now possible to have a confirmed upgrade on international flights for Diamond Medallion and Platinum Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members — but if you want to upgrade a passenger on certain transcontinental flights if you are a Silver Medallion or Gold Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program member, you are out of luck. However, you may upgrade on certain flights to Hawaii which were previously not eligible for upgrades.

In other words, it appears that generally flights which do not offer the premium Business Elite product will be available for unlimited complimentary upgrades; while those flights which do offer the premium Business Elite product will only be available for upgrades for Diamond Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members who use Global Upgrades — even if the flight is a domestic transcontinental flight.

By the way, Regional Upgrades will be available for flights between the contiguous 48 United States and both Central America and Northern South America — except for those flights which offer a premium Business Elite cabin. Only Global Upgrades will be eligible for flights between the contiguous 48 United States and Southern South America; as well as flights within Asia and Oceania.

You can still use Delta Air Lines SkyMiles for mileage upgrades whose fare class restrictions vary by region. Flights within the contiguous 48 United States are eligible on Y, B, M, S, H, Q and K fare classes. Mileage upgrades on international itineraries — including Mexico, Caribbean, Bermuda and Hawaii — are eligible on Y, B, M fare classes.

It is also no coincidence that confirmed international upgrades will become available as the Medallion Qualification Dollars component is expected to become effective.

There was a time long ago when systemwide upgrades were available for all frequent fliers of Delta Air Lines with elite level status who traveled every 20,000 miles — but that was during the days where a certificate was needed for every 800 miles or 500 miles flown. I never did like the upgrade certificate procedure.

What do you think of these changes?

Comments (Showing 7 of 7)

  • Bowgie at 7:58pm December 10, 2013

    “Platinum Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members may choose four Regional Upgrades.” However, The Gate also states, “…flights which do offer the premium Business Elite product will only be available for upgrades for Diamond Medallion and Platinum Medallion SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members who use Global Upgrades.”

    How can Platinum Medallions upgrade to Business Elite if they will only be able to chose the Regional Certificate? Doesn’t this change make BE upgrades Diamond-only?

    • Brian Cohen at 10:27pm December 10, 2013

      Thank you for catching that error, Bowgie — I appreciate it. I corrected the text accordingly.

  • IkarosBOS at 10:11pm December 11, 2013

    goodbye, DL
    as 15 years ultaloyal PE and then charter DM customer, 1250k of unREDEEMABLE miles, this is the time to part
    you have pulled the cord too much
    No more fluff frequent flier program for me
    Simply not worth the effort
    Adios

  • tanglin at 12:41am December 12, 2013

    I am about to qualify for my final year as a DM flyer (heading back to LAX from SIN tomorrow). I don’t spend enough MQD’s to make Diamond (I get there the hard way, physical miles).

    It is a shame that Delta (and to be fair, all majors) are devaluing their program to the point where, because I mainly travel internationally, I will no longer have the incentive to be loyal. I do travel a few SNA-ATL segments every year and enjoy the complimentary upgrades. If these continue into 2014 I will be happy, (and probably keep giving them my business until these stop) but I’m taking this as an opportunity to look at traveling on some aircraft types Delta doesn’t offer, like 380’s and Dreamliners.

    I hope when I’m on one of these new planes (for me) on a different airline that my unappreciated empty seat on Delta gets filled. I like traveling with them, their staff are great, but hey, we all move on, don’t we?

  • […] post from a Delta rep come across flyertalk the other day about next year’s changes to Delta’s Medallion […]

  • Shefra at 6:44am December 16, 2013

    I am shy of 5K MQMs away from PM. Usually I would stick with my GM status, roll over my MQMs, and be fine. But now I’m worried. Now it looks like being Gold will be worth little, but maybe I’m overreacting?
    I have about 250K sky miles, and I have been using them to do things like purchase my spouses transcom seat RT to Paris each year (while I pay for mile to get the MQMs), and to upgrade our flights.
    I have a flight to Paris for March 2014. But even if I were Plat., what would I be entitled to that I currently am not getting.
    Can you help me out?
    The buy up cost $900.
    I don’t want to regret anything, but the window is closing. I don’t have time to fly out to Seattle.

    • Brian Cohen at 3:04pm December 16, 2013

      If I understand your question correctly, Shefra, you want to use SkyMiles to upgrade on round-trip flights to Paris from the United States.

      Nothing changes for you in terms of using SkyMiles for upgrades — but watch out about earning Medallion Qualification Miles, as you will also need a corresponding minimum amount of Medallion Qualification Dollars to achieve Medallion elite level status for 2015.

      As always, Platinum Medallion elite status will simply give you priority over fellow passengers who have Gold Medallion elite status in terms of using SkyMiles for upgrading your flights. If you retained Gold Medallion elite status, you will not earn the four Regional Upgrades which SkyMiles members with Platinum Medallion elite level status will earn. You will still have unlimited upgrades on most domestic flights within the United States — and, as said, you can still use your SkyMiles to upgrade on your round-trip flights between the United States and Paris.

      Did I address your concerns and answer your questions?

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