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:
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:
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!
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!