Delta might still charge for checked luggage, flight changes, and even TV shows on some flights, but the Atlanta-based carrier made a surprisingly generous move yesterday when it announced that, as of January 1, 2011, it will eliminate expiration dates for its SkyMiles frequent flyer program – the only U.S. carrier to do so.
Previously, flyers had to use award points within two years; the new system completely abolishes that requirement, according to a statement on Delta’s website: “Effective January 1, 2011, we eliminated our mileage expiration policy so you can earn and redeem miles without worrying about if and when your miles will expire.”
The magnanimous decision is likely an effort to pacify loyal followers who complained when Delta introduced its three-tiered SkyMiles rewards program in 2008. Though advertised as a flexible model, the restructured system actually made it more difficult to find and book lower-priced award flights, angering Delta’s most frequent flyers and giving other legacy carriers more ammunition in the battle for those valuable jet-setting customers.
Regardless of the reasoning, getting rid of mileage expiration dates is a refreshingly pro-customer step – now let’s hope that the world’s second-largest carrier sparks an industry-wide trend.
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