SkyMiles prior to the upcoming changes effective 1 January 2015, was superior to FlyingBlue with regard to earning redeemable miles. Both programs have two types of miles, RDMs (Redeemable / Award Miles) and MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles / Level Miles). Redeemable (or Award Miles) are the miles one uses to claim frequent flyer award tickets. Remember, I am talking about the number of miles earned, not the potential value of those miles.
In this post I am going to focus on RDMs (Redeemable Miles / Award Miles), and the big transition of 2014 to 2015 when Delta SkyMiles shifts from a distance based to revenue based earning program.
Also, the topic of Elite Status (MQMs, Medallion Qualifying Miles, in the SkyMiles program and Level Miles in the FlyingBlue program) will be a topic of a future post. In addition, the topic of what is better and the pros and cons of FlyingBlue Award Miles and SkyMiles RDMs in 2015 will be the subject of another post very soon.
For those not familiar with SkyTeam and mileage earning; when you fly (for example) Delta, KLM or Air France you have a choice to credit your flight to either the Delta program (SkyMiles) or the KLM/Air France program (FlyingBlue).
In this example, let’s look at a flight from AMS-LAX (Amsterdam, NL to Los Angeles, CA, USA)
If you purchased a discounted ticket for €878,80 ($1,120) as a FlyingBlue Ivory (FB Ivory) which is base level with the FlyingBlue program, you would earn 2780 Award Miles.
The equivalent ticket earning in the Delta SkyMiles Program (Base) would be 11,158 Redeemable Miles (RDMs)
So, in 2014, keeping the comparison FlyingBlue Ivory (Base) to SkyMiles (Base), you could earn 2780 or 11,158 miles in their respective programs for the same ticket price. Remember, as you achieve Elite Status in these programs, you also get bonuses on top of these earning. Most of these bonuses are scalable, so it is easiest to look at the programs Base to Base Member.
As the Flying Blue chart below shows, heavily discounted fares (those most likely to be used by leisure or price sensitive travelers) only earn 25% of the flown miles; whereas base members (for 2014) earn 100% of the miles flown in the Delta SkyMiles program.
Now, let’s fast forward to 2015, when the Delta SkyMiles program becomes revenue based. The equivalent ticket earning in the Delta SkyMiles Program (Base) would be 5,580 Redeemable Miles (RDMs).
The above Mileage Comparison Calculator can be found here.
So, earnings in summary for a discount (lowest price) economy ticket AMS-LAX-AMS, for a base (non-elite member) :
- FB 2014 (and 2015) : 2,780 FlyingBlue Award Miles
- SkyMiles 2014 : 11,158 SkyMiles (11,158 MQMs)
- SkyMiles 2015 : 5,580 SkyMiles (5 Miles / $1)
For completeness, let’s also look at what a FlyingBlue Platinum and Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion would earn :
- SkyMiles Platinum 2014 : 22,316 SkyMiles (11,158 MQMs)
- SkyMiles Platinum 2015 : 9,936 SkyMiles (9 Miles / $1)
- FB Platinum 2014 (and 2015) : 5,558 FlyingBlue Award Miles
While SkyMiles 2014 earned a lot more miles than FlyingBlue, SkyMiles 2015 also earns more miles than the equivalent ticket (now, based on spend/revenue) in 2015. Please keep in mind, this comparison is focused on purchasing your tickets using delta.com. There is still a bit of question, with regard to how SkyMiles will compute your RDMs when purchased from a source that does not calculate MQDs (like a partner website). Even though it is already November 2014, non-MQD based (2015) partner earning has not been announced by Delta. There are quite a few unknowns, with regard to the SkyMiles 2015 program. Unfortunately, these changes are generally not good for people who purchase discounted long-haul tickets. I am certain, this will be the first of many posts discussing SkyMiles 2015.
How do you feel about the SkyMiles 2015 changes?
AMS : code for Amsterdam
LAX : code for LAX
FB : Flying Blue
FB Ivory : Base Level Flying Blue Member
MQM : Medallion Qualifying Miles (the miles that establish your elite status or tier)
RDM : Redeemable Miles (the miles used for awards or free tickets, for example : “I need 25,000 RDMs for a free economy class ticket.”)
Award Miles : the same as RDMs, except the FlyingBlue program using this term instead of Redeemable Miles.