Delta re-values the SkyMiles program... a little

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🇪🇺 The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a new travel requirement that allows visa-exempt nationals to enter the European Union/Schengen Area for short-term stays, has been postponed until spring 2025. Read more here.

Good morning and welcome back to Daily Drop, the newsletter that is skipping the fun intro today because there are some major pieces of news to cover:

  • 💳 MAJOR shake-up on Hilton’s credit cards

  • ✈️ Delta walks back some of its recent bad changes

  • 😭 British Airways Avios switches to revenue-based earning (not great news)

💳 MAJOR shake-up on Hilton’s credit cards

There has been a pretty major shift on two of the Hilton co-branded credit cards, including changes to annual fees, some exciting new credits, and changes to the various perks.

Rather than try to cram it all in here (because it’s a lot), I wrote up a special article that breaks down all of the changes and my personal take on them.

✈️ Delta walks back some of its recent bad changes

Remember like two weeks ago when Delta dropped some devastating changes on us?

I know it feels like a lifetime ago, but I have some (sort of) good news for you.

After facing extreme backlash for these changes, Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta, reached out to Delta SkyMiles members yesterday expressing his sincere remorse after taking things too damn far with the previous Delta announcement.

He can be such a sweetheart.

In all seriousness, Ed actually did send out an email to members outlining some backtracking from the original program changes.

There are a number of updates, but the ones that will affect most of you are the earning requirements for Medallion status and access to SkyClub lounges.

Here are the changes to earning SkyMiles Medallion status:

  • Diamond Medallion: 28,000 MQDs (down from 35,000)

  • Platinum Medallion: 15,000 MQDs (down from 18,000)

  • Gold Medallion: 10,000 MQDs (down from 12,000)

  • Silver Medallion: 5,000 MQDs (down from 6,000)

Okay, look…

It’s nice that they’re rolling back these requirements to a degree, but that only happened after MAJOR backlash from SkyMiles members...

Additionally, these upcoming requirements are still significantly higher than the current requirements. So while it might feel like a relief to see some lower numbers, don’t let Delta trick you into thinking this is any kind of positive update to the current program.

Next up…

Delta also backtracked on the devastating changes to its policy regarding lounge access.

A major concern about the original announcements was the limited number of SkyClub visits included on the co-branded credit cards.

These have been updated as well:

  • The third card on this list will now include 15 annual SkyClub visits (up from 10 with the original announcement)

  • The second card on this list will now include 10 annual SkyClub visits (up from six)

Another positive update is that one “visit” will be good for a 24-hour period. So if you have layovers on your journey, you won’t need to use multiple visits from your allowance.

This was a major concern for people with the original announcement. Imagine only having six annual visits on a card and using four of them on a single round-trip with a layover in each direction. It’s basically worthless.

This new update to lounge access is fairly meaningful, and will definitely be good news for anyone who holds these cards and wants to get another year with at least some lounge access from them.

But here’s the bottom line:

We now know what Delta REALLY wants to do at the end of the day. They may have bought themselves an extra year or two with this backtracking, but eventually, the original changes are going to come into effect.

So if you want to try and squeeze another year out of Delta status, cards, and lounge access, then great. For most people, I’d still beware of investing more of your money and travel into a program that is inevitably going to get worse over time.

😭 British Airways Avios switches to revenue-based earning (not great news)

British Airways has dropped some hints around this for a few months now, but officially, as of October 18th, you’ll now earn Avios via its new revenue-based earning model 😒

This is a big change from its previous distance and fare-based system.

So what exactly does this mean?

Passengers will earn Avios based on each British pound (or equivalent) spent on base fares, carrier-imposed surcharges, and other ancillary costs—like seat selection, cabin upgrades, and baggage fees.

You’ll also earn Avios based on your status level, but this doesn’t impact the Tier Points model (which determines your Executive Club status).

So you’ll still earn Tier Points based on your fare class and distance flown, and BA even has a calculator you can use to predict how many Avios you’ll earn.

So who’s gonna benefit from this?

Mainly, the big boys and girls who are regularly paying cash to fly in premium-cabin seats on long-haul flights are the winners today… and every day now.

This will obviously accelerate their earnings, especially if they have higher status with the airline.

And that goes for anyone with higher status…

Even if you pay for a lower-fare seat, you still have a slight chance to come out ahead with the new model IF you have a higher level of status because of the earning rates per pound.

Are there any positives?

Well… you previously didn’t earn Avios on ancillary charges, and now you can.

So that aisle seat you paid $20 to pick? BA will now toss you a few Avios for doing that. Thanks? I guess? 🥴

It’s also important to note that these changes won’t impact passengers who fly on other Oneworld airlines but credit the miles to their Executive Club account (except Iberia who adopted the same system).

So if traveling on a partner airline, you’ll continue to earn Avios based on the distance flown and fare class chosen.

Overall, there’s a small portion of travelers who will benefit from these changes, but for the majority of us, it’s definitely a hit to how we’ll rack up Avios if flying with BA from now on.

One of my favorite ways to learn about new travel hacks is in our very own Daily Drop Lounge, an online community of DD fans and travel hackers.

And unlike your local airport lounge, you won’t have any trouble getting into the Daily Drop Lounge. 😉

Here’s a look at a post from this past week if you want a taste of what you’re missing:

Current Transfer Bonuses

  • 30% from Marriott Bonvoy to United (ends October 31st)

  • 25% from ThankYou points to Avianca LifeMiles (ends November 4th)

  • 30% from UR points to Virgin Atlantic (ends November 15th)

  • 25% from MR points to JetBlue (ends November 30th)

  • 25% from UR points to Flying Blue (ends November 30th)

Holy crap… that was an EXHAUSTING newsletter… Overall, I’m fairly excited about the Hilton changes, fairly disappointed in the British Airways changes, and just… meh… about the Delta changes.

But I want to hear from you: How do you feel about all of these updates? Any that you’re excited about? Any that are devastating? Let me know by replying to this email or reaching out on social media.

Have a nice weekend!

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

52°22'35.4"N 52°15'17.4"W

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