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SkyMiles is the Freddie Awards-winning frequent flyer program of Delta Air Lines that offers points (or "miles") to passengers traveling on most fare types, as well as to consumers who utilize Delta co-branded credit cards, which accumulate towards free awards such as airline tickets, business and first class upgrades, and luxury products. Created in 1981 as the "Delta Air Lines Frequent Flyer Program"; its name was changed to SkyMiles in 1995. Delta claims that it is the only major U.S. airline without mileage expiration, so travelers can redeem awards at their leisure. The airline also has a separate SkyBonus program that provides small to mid-sized business owners with a way to earn points for trips taken by employees, good towards free flights, upgrades, Silver Medallion status and other travel awards.
SkyMiles allows both round-trip and one-way redemption but at full round-trip pricing, with economy awards starting at 15,000 miles.
Delta offers four tiers of elite status within the SkyMiles program. These are known as Medallion statuses and can be achieved by flying a certain number of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQS) between January 1 and December 31 each year. Beginning in 2014, a certain number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) is required in addition to either the MQM or the MQS requirement.
|Tier name||MQMs required||MQSs required||MQDs required||Abbreviation|
Medallion status entitles members to unlimited complimentary upgrades, subject to availability, on most published economy fares on Delta and certain Delta-designated codeshare flights in North America within or between the United States (excluding Hawaii) and Bermuda, Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. In addition, preferred coach seating such as in the Economy Comfort section is set aside for medallion members for when first and business class upgrades are not available.
When the frequent flyer program was first established in 1981, new members were awarded an enrollment bonus of 10,000 miles.
On May 1, 1995, Delta Air Lines modified its frequent flyer program. In addition to renaming it "SkyMiles", mileage expiration policies were put in place. Miles from the old program would never expire but newly earned miles in the SkyMiles program would if there was no account activity for three years. Beginning January 1, 2007, expiration was triggered by two years of no activity. At the same time, the old Frequent Flyer Program miles were combined into SkyMiles, effectively negating their unlimited shelf-life. Delta's most frequent patrons still refer to "Silver Medallion" status as "FO" short for "Flying Orchid" after an early Delta loyalty acknowledgement program. This is ostensibly to avoid confusion between "Silver Medallion" and "SkyMiles."
On July 31, 2008, Delta adjusted the cost of award tickets by implementing a four-tiered pricing system. For example, a domestic coach ticket costs 25,000, 32,500, 40,000, or 60,000 miles depending on availability.
On January 1, 2009, Delta changed the expiration date of its miles. Previously, the miles expired at the end of the calendar year following 24 months of inactivity. The new policy caused the miles to expire immediately after 24 months of inactivity.
On July 27, 2009, Delta introduced "Rollover" for Delta Medallion members. Flyers who reach an elite tier in a program year are able to roll over any extra Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) above their earned tier to the next year. For example, a passenger who earned 65,000 MQM in 2010 will earn Gold Medallion status for reaching 50,000 MQMs and will begin 2011 with 15,000 MQMs rolled over from the previous year.
On October 1, 2009, Northwest Airlines former frequent flyer program, WorldPerks, officially became SkyMiles. This remained until the reservation system and website became Delta on January 31, 2010.
On January 1, 2011, Delta eliminated its mileage expiration policy, making it the only major U.S. carrier to have a non-expiring mileage policy. The announcement was made on February 15, 2011.
In January 2013, Delta announced that beginning in the 2014 program year qualifying for elite Medallion status will require meeting spending thresholds. Each tier of elite status will now require a certain amount of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), in addition to the existing mileage or segment requirements. 1 MQD is earned for every dollar spent on most Delta issued airline tickets and on Delta marketed flights on other tickets. Only the base fare and carrier imposed fees earn MQDs. Government fees and taxes, as well as ancillary services such as baggage fees, change fees, etc, do not earn MQDs. Medallion members who spend at least $25,000 on a cobranded Delta American Express card annually are exempt from this new requirement.