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.