Why Delta Air Lines is Not the Worst Frequent Flyer Program


There has been a bit of tension going around the blogosphere regarding the recent devaluations of the Delta Skymiles program. I know I’ve recently critized Delta Skymiles in my previous articles:

I Have A Love-Hate Relationship With The Same Day Confirmed Policy On Delta Airlines
Why I’m Ending My Relationship With Delta Airlines For Good
Delta Airlines Sent Me a Letter Asking For My Loyalty Back

For what it’s worth, I’ve been a Silver Medallion for 2 years and a Gold Medallion for 3 years so I have flown with Delta quite a bit. Below are some reasons why Delta Air Lines is not the worst frequent flyer program.

Here are list of benefits I like as a Silver Medallion:

Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades (AA doesn’t offer that to Golds and uses a sticker system instead) – I’ve gotten upgraded 25% as a Silver Medallion and that was for the obscure non-hub routes. An upgrade is better than no upgrade at all!

Group 1 Boarding – Sure it’s not First Class or Sky Priority boarding, but it’s right after Sky Priority

IRROPS – Silver Medallion status is better than no status whenever problems arise and Delta does take care of their Medallions, no matter if you’re a lowly Silver

Priority Check-in – I’ve seen Silver Medallion check-in stations at ATL Airport and often times, you can check in at the business class counters whenever you’re traveling internationally due to being a Skyteam Elite.


Here are list of benefits I like as a Gold Medallion:

Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades – Upgrades cleared about 70% for me as a Gold which isn’t too bad at all since I always fly the major hub routes like LAX-ATL, LAX-JFK, LAX-MSP, LAX-ATL and I’ve gotten upgraded quite often.

Free Same Day Confirmed – I cleared at about 70% for upgrades because I often took advantage of their free Same Day Confirmed (SDC) policy which is very generous. If I find out that my LAX-JFK portion doesn’t have a shot at an upgrade, I’ll find an alternative route with more available First Class seats open. American Airlines still charges their elites (even EXP) $75 for a Same Day Confirmed.

Complimentary Upgrades on Award Tickets – I’ve actually gotten upgraded from LAX-JFK and JFK-LAX on an award ticket as a Gold Medallion. I know United offers this for their Premier members if they hold a MileagePlus credit card, but American Airlines does not upgrade on award tickets at all.

SkyPriority – This is a no brainer as Sky Priority gives you access to boarding right after First Class and Business Class.

SkyTeam Elite Plus – Being a Gold Medallion allows you to benefit from SkyTeam Elite Plus on Skyteam carriers. SkyTeam Elite Plus also means access to premium seats and priority boarding on Skyteam carriers.

Lounge Access – This means lounge access international and domestically whenever you’re on an international ticket, regardless if you’re flying in coach.

100% Bonus Miles – I love being able to earn 100% Bonus RDM’s (redeemable miles) every time I fly as a Gold Medallion. United gives their Premier Gold members 50% bonus and Premier Platinums 75%, so Delta has a great advantage here.

Expanded Award Availability – Delta makes more SAVER awards available for Gold Medallions. American Airlines only gives Expanded Award Availability to Executive Platinums.

Access to the Skymiles Marketplace – A minor benefit, but Silver Medallions don’t even have access to the Skymiles Marketplace. A few years ago, one could redeem 5,000 miles for a $50 gift card which wasn’t too bad of a deal at 1cpm.

IRROPS – Gold Medallions can take advantage of a Delta iPhone app glitch where you can confirm straight into F/J to any available flight if you have been delayed for more than 5 minutes. I’ve written about it here and here.

Have One On Us Coupons – If you don’t get upgraded as a Gold Medallion, Delta gives you a “Have One On Us” coupon when you print your boarding pass online. It entitles you to a free alcoholic beverage, which is better than nothing.

There are some other things I like about Delta, like the ability to rollover MQM’s. I don’t know any other frequent flier that lets you rollover elite status qualifying miles for the next year.


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Points Summary
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2 Comments on "Why Delta Air Lines is Not the Worst Frequent Flyer Program"

  1. Rollover is the only unique thing about them really and it tends to inflate the ranks. As far as Silver goes, the above benefits are covered if you have non status and are Starwood Plat. The “upgrade” list benefit was recently added.

  2. None of your “benefits” matter one whit if you can’t find flights at Saver level on high demand flights. And lack of F on partners is ridiculous.

    Compared to United availability, DL is a complete joke. I’ve got 600K DL and keep reminding myself what an idiot I was to ever want them. I stupidly assumed DL would be similar to UA. But DL isn’t even in the ballpark.


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