Delta's Skybonus Program Shifts Focus - Running with Miles
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Delta’s Skybonus Program Shifts Focus

Advertiser Disclosure

Delta’s Skybonus program is the frequent flyer program for businesses. Companies can setup accounts with the Skybonus program to earn rewards based on spending while the employees earn their own miles with the Skymiles program. It is a nice way to get something for the spending that is done by a company in the form of travel certificates, lounge membership, and even Silver Medallion status. With these rewards for your company’s spending, you have flexibility with how you want to use those rewards.

Delta’s Skybonus Program

The program was giving out some great bonuses just a few years ago. For instance, just signing up for the program and making one flight with the airline would net you tens of thousands of points. And then there was the ability to take a little quiz/survey and get more points for that. And finally, there was the routes you could fly on and earn double or more points for your spending on those routes. All of this again added up to increasing points in many accounts and that was obviously going to change at some point.

The awards in this program have been pretty nice. I was able to redeem a certificate for travel to Australia or the South Pacific and give it to a friend who needed to travel to the Philippines. The cost to him? Just the $30 in taxes! It was nice to be able to use that instead of miles for the trip since the certificates are tied to specific revenue fare classes and not dependent on typical Skymiles award availability.

Changes To The Spending (in the past)

But, of course the program is changing. It would have felt lonely if Delta changed the Skymiles side of things and didn’t touch the Skybonus program so we are seeing a shift in how they focus their attention. Last year, they initiated a minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in a calendar year to keep an account active. While many were upset about that, I think that was pretty fair. After all, the points you earn in the program are tied to money spent (and multiplied by departure city, bonus routes, etc.) so if you were not doing $5,000 in company spending in a year, you were probably not generating a lot of points overall. I do think they should have exempted the points you already had in the program (because points do not expire for 3 years) and not cut people out of the program entirely, but many people found there accounts being deleted for not meeting that revenue requirement.

Minimum Number of Travelers

The new program is focusing now on making sure that there are more people traveling for the company than just you. Combining that with the fact that Delta has audited accounts to make sure that it is business travel and not vacation travel, there will likely be many companies that will no longer make the cut. Beginning next year, you will be required to have a minimum of 5 unique travelers each year – each with at least one credited segment. Without that minimum, you will find your account cut.

New Skybonus Elite

Beginning this past week, they initiated a new level of the program called Skybonus Elite. This is another way of reminding many of their customers and small business partners that they are not elite enough with Delta anymore. 🙂 It will require 2,000,000 points in a calendar year. To break that down a bit, if your small business buys economy tickets out of a hub, you earn 3 points per dollar (through August 1 when another change takes place). That means that you will need to spend $666,666 in eligible ticket spending to qualify for the Elite part of the program! But, if you buy business class tickets out of non-hub locations, you will only need to have $66,666 in eligible spending to earn that status. Obviously, if you are buying business class tickets for at least 5 employees, it will not be too hard to hit that amount in a calendar year. That would come down to spending about $13,000 per person. That is just a few business class tickets to Europe or a little more than one or two to Australia or Asia. With that, it is clear that they are focusing on the businesses that are purchasing the higher priced tickets.

Here is what will be offered to the Skybonus Elite companies:

  • 10% more points on every eligible flight
  • Priority access to SkyBonus representatives
  • Detailed quarterly Sky Partner reports
  • Access to Elite flight certificates with enhanced availability

New Award Earning Chart

For now through August 1, 2015, this is how the earning breaks down:

Skybonus

Current earning chart for Skybonus program

After August 1, that will be broken down into 3 levels that will really dump on the economy tickets – specifically the cheapest fare classes X, V, and E with Delta. Here is how it will look then:

skybonus

Award earning after August 1, 2015

As you can see, the real change occurs for those cheaper fare classes. The interesting part is how Delta spins this change:

To align with our redefined product offering, Delta will be making adjustments to the SkyBonus earning structure for travel on or after August 1, 2015.

The change that Delta is talking about does not sound like it is lowering the earning for cheaper tickets!

Summary

I am less disappointed in Delta revising the Skybonus program than I was for the Skymile program revisions. Of course it makes sense – reward companies that are giving you a large amount of business with rewards for their spending. The traveler changes would not really affect my account so much since I have more than 5 flyers already. However, the earning rate would cut into my rewards a bit. To be honest, it does not matter all that much to me anyway since I have moved away from Delta for all but necessary tickets. I still have quite a few points in the Skybonus program and will look at cashing these out sometime this year.

The clear winner with these changes are the businesses that use Delta for their premium products – and use them a lot. If that is your company, Delta wants you to stay with them! If not, it might be time to start looking at the reward chart here to see what you may want to spend your points on!

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

3 Comments

  • so you mention you moved your business to other airlines. I’m interested as I’m a loyal delta customer who recently transferred from United. what other airline did you go to? and why? United had a similar program for my manufacturing business but I didn’t see it as good as skybonus. just curious as 2015 will be a tough year for us and we will need to stretch every nickel and dime.

    • Sorry, I should have clarified that a bit. I have moved all of my personal travel away from the program but there are still instances that the company itself will have Delta tickets. We have people that often travel on international routes, but they are on the cheapest fare classes. That means that our earnings will be way down but it is common for Delta to have some of the best pricing/routing for what we need. For myself, I will be crediting my personal miles flown on Delta to Alaska. For other travel, I currently am working on renewing my Aegean status and will most likely continue crediting all of my Star travel to them because the fare earnings are better than with United.
      For business programs, the Skybonus is still a good option. It is just a shame that they decided to really gut the cheapest of fare classes with earnings. Again, I understand their decision from a business perspective, but it does not make the decision easier for businesses who do purchase cheap tickets. 🙂

  • […] Delta’s Skybonus Program Shifts Focus (Running With Miles). Detailed analysis that quickly told me my time in SkyBonus is limited. At end of 2013 I was one of the accounts that had all points confiscated with no-notice so not meeting the annual $5,000 annual spend requirement which at the time was buried in fine print. Appeals to Delta reinstated my account but not the points. Surprised it has not happened again at end of 2014. […]

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