Delta SkyMiles To Be Based On Price Of Ticket, Not Distance Of Flight

In a move that may please some business travelers whose employers aren’t picky about pricey airfares, but will likely annoy frugal frequent travelers, Delta Air Lines announced today that it will be changing its SkyMiles frequent flier program so that the number reward miles earned will be based on the price of a ticket, and not the distance flown.

Most frequent flier programs rewarded customers for long-distance travel regardless of the cost of a ticket, meaning that if two SkyMiles members on the same flight from JFK to LAX earned the same number of miles even if one passenger’s ticket only cost a fraction of the other passenger’s.

But under the new Delta program, which won’t kick in until Jan. 1, 2015, SkyMiles members will receive rewards miles based on how much they paid for their tickets.

The lowest tier SkyMiles members will earn 5 miles per dollar spent, while Diamond Medallion members will 11 miles/dollar (and can earn up to 13 if they pay with the right Delta-branded credit card).

Here is the chart released this morning by the airline that shows the breakdown of miles/dollar:

Delta is making no attempt to hide that this policy change is intended to attract more high-end business travelers; the ones who call their offices and say things like “Just book me on the next flight to Santa Fe” without ever asking about the ticket price.

“The introduction of a new model for earning miles will increase rewards for those who spend more as well as differentiate the SkyMiles frequent flyer program for our premium travelers,” said Delta’s VP of SkyMiles, which we imagine is sort of like being the Master of Coin in King’s Landing.

While frequent business travelers and first/business-class travelers will likely benefit from this policy change, we imagine that the rest of us who actually care about what we pay for plane tickets will not be pleased when they see that being a cost-conscious consumer is now a penalty in the eyes of Delta.

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