US-based travel company, Delta Airlines, has built a huge following of loyal customers through its flagship loyalty program, SkyMiles. Since its launch in 1981, the company has not relented serving its elite customers with the best of value and rewarding all members with miles they can redeem in several ways. Tagged among the five most valuable airline loyalty programs globally, businesses aiming to implement successful reward programs can learn some great lessons from this brand. By the end of this post, readers will understand how the SkyMiles loyalty program works, why it has been so successful, and some of the drawbacks they can improve upon.
How does the program work?
The Delta SkyMiles Loyalty Program offers its members the opportunity to earn miles for flying and other activities toward traveling on any of Delta Air Lines flights, vacations packages, and other valuable rewards. Customers can join the SkyMiles program for free by signing up at delta.com. In this program, the miles earned do not expire, and members can use them to travel to over a thousand destinations depending on the amount they have in their accounts.
As a welcome offer, members can earn up to 50,000 bonus miles as well as up to $100 back in statement credits at US restaurants when they obtain the Delta SkyMiles American Express Card. There are different ways to earn miles with this program. As a SkyMiles member, you earn 5 miles for each dollar you spend on Delta flights. This means the higher you pay for a flight, the more miles you earn. Customers can earn as much as 75,000 miles per ticket. To earn miles, members need to enter their unique SkyMiles number when booking their flights or enter the number in the My Trips section of the website after they’ve already booked a flight.
The program uses a tiered structure that enables members to earn more miles per dollar as they progress through each Medallion tier. This means that the amount of miles a member earns is largely dependent on their current status or tier during the time of travel.
- General SkyMiles Members earn 5 miles for every $1 spent.
- Silver Medallion Members earn 7 miles for every $1 spent.
- Gold Medallion Members earn 8 miles per $1 spent.
- Platinum Medallion Members earn 9 miles for every $1 spent. Diamond Medallion Members earn 11 miles for every $1 they spend.
Once a member upgrades to the Silver Medallion status, they are rewarded with priority boarding, unlimited complimentary upgrades, waived baggage fees, and other perks such as Delta’s Rollover MQMs. Gold Medallion members receive all the perks enjoyed by Silver Medallion members and access to the full Sky Priority suite of services. Platinum Medallion status members also enjoy all the perks offered at the Silver and Gold stages and a customized Choice Benefit. Additionally, members who reach the Diamond Medallion Status enjoy the most exclusive perks, including the highest Complimentary Upgrade priority, customizable Choice benefits, complimentary Clear membership, the highest priority boarding, and all other benefits enjoyed by the lower tiers.
Another way to earn miles with this loyalty program is to use the Delta Skymiles American express cards. Members can earn more miles by using their cards on Delta purchases, at restaurants, Hotels, US Supermarkets, and other purchases made during their trips. The Delta SkyMiles program also allows its customers to earn miles when they fly with any of its 20+ airline partners across the world. Members can also earn when they use Delta’s hotel, ridesharing, car rental, dining, and shopping partners during their trips.
When members earn miles, they can travel to several different destinations or book Award Travel either for themselves or someone else. They can also redeem their miles by booking for all-in-one Delta Vacation packages. Members can also pay for certain flights with a combination of Miles and cash or Pay with Miles.
What are the good things about the program?
The Delta SkyMiles loyalty program has achieved immense success among its customers because of its numerous benefits. Below are some of the program’s strongest points.
The SkyMiles rewards program is widely noted for the immense value it offers customers. Apart from being a free program, members enjoy several perks when they earn miles on their flights. Ordinarily, customers have to spend money on flight tickets, hotels, car rentals, restaurants, and shopping when they travel anyway. SkyMiles uses its program to build loyalty by offering customers numerous incentives for performing these activities.
Another strong point of this loyalty program is that it does not limit the redemption of miles to only Delta flights. Customers around the world can earn or use miles when they book flights with over 20 partner airlines. In addition, when members fly with any of the numerous SkyTeam carriers or other participating airlines in different countries, they can earn and use their miles.
Miles Don’t Expire
This is one of the rarest traits among loyalty programs. Delta SkyMiles do not expire, unlike numerous other airline, hotel, and a host of other loyalty programs that require its customers to earn and redeem their rewards within a certain timeframe or risk expiration. With this loyalty program, members have the leeway to earn and spend their miles whenever they can.
Generous rewards for Advanced tiers
Customers, particularly the most loyal ones, love to feel appreciated by the brands they patronize. SkyMiles does an excellent job at maintaining loyalty by offering generous bonuses to its medallion members. For instance, members who have achieved the Diamond Medallion status earn 120% bonus miles, Platinum Medallion members earn 80% bonus miles, Gold Medallion members earn 60% bonus miles. In comparison, Silver Medallion members earn 40% bonus miles atop the base miles earned when they book flights with Delta and its participating airlines.
How could they have made the rewards program more attractive?
Although the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program is near perfect, the brand can tweak certain features to make it even more attractive to customers.
One of the drawbacks of this loyalty program is that it is revenue-based, meaning rewards are earned based on the amount of dollars spent instead of the number of miles flown. The Medallion Qualifying Dollars members earn are determined by the price of their tickets, excluding fees and taxes. This is quite a challenge for an airline loyalty program because customers would need to spend much more and frequently fly before progressing through the tiers.
Another drawback of the Delta SkyMiles program is that it is subject to frequent and often unannounced changes that significantly change the value of the points earned. These changes could either be positive or negative. However, due to its frequency, members may find it difficult to determine the worth of their miles and points at any given time. Delta can certainly improve its program by giving a reasonable prior notice before implementing changes. They could also reduce the number of changes they make to their program within the year.
Despite the few drawbacks noted, the Delta Skymiles Loyalty program remains one of the best in the airline industry. It encompasses most of the characteristics a good rewards program should have. With one of the most detailed explainer pages, worldwide reach, well-structured tiers with numerous benefits, and several options to redeem miles earned, this loyalty program achieves its primary purpose and keeps customers constantly engaged.