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Delta Will Award Fewer Miles for Some Fares

Effective September 1, Delta SkyMiles members will earn fewer award and elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) for some tickets.

The tickets in question are those booked using “unpublished fares,” defined by Delta: “Unpublished fares are normally purchased through a specialized agent, third party, or to a group. Examples of Unpublished fares include: student fares, consolidator fares, flights included as part of a cruise package, discounted tour packages, group fares.”

Under the new scheme, the earning rates for award miles and EQMs will be as follows:

  • First/Business (fare codes J, C, D, S, I, F, P, A) earns 150 percent award miles/100 percent EQMs
  • Premium Economy (Y, B, M) earns 100 percent/100 percent
  • Economy (H) earns 75 percent/75 percent
  • Discounted Economy (Q, K, L) earns 50 percent/50 percent
  • Deeply Discounted Economy (U, T, E) earns 25 percent/25 percent

In addition to the above, the 500-mile minimum will not apply to unpublished fares.

If those fare codes look familiar, it’s because they’re the same ones used for published fares. In other words, they won’t help in determining whether your ticket falls under the rules for published or unpublished fares.

And that’s a big part of the problem with this move. It’s one thing to establish a policy, be it positive or negative. But it’s another thing to communicate that policy so that there’s no confusion or doubt in the minds of those affected.

Posting the new policy on its website is of course necessary. But aside from a few travel industry analysts like myself, who will find their way to an obscure webpage?

In particular, how many of those flying Delta on student fares, group fares, or as part of tour packages will be aware that they’re only earning a fraction of the miles they’d normally earn? Who will tell them—Delta, the tour operator, the cruise company?

It’s unrealistic to expect that they can or will take the time to communicate the new rule.

Delta should maintain the old policy. Not because those who will get less deserve more, but because it’s a policy that will inevitably result in confusion and disappointment.

Delta customers deserve better.

Reader Reality Check

Have you ever been denied frequent flyer miles because of a policy you were unaware of?

Is Delta’s new policy a fair and reasonable one?

This article originally appeared on

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