At each of Atlanta’s two major carriers — AirTran Airways and Delta Air Lines — the frequent flier programs are undergoing transformations that will change the way you earn points for free flights.
Photo: Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin

BREAKDOWN: Changes for Southwest, Delta

AirTran frequent flier conversion to Southwest program

AirTran’s A+ Rewards program comes to an end Nov. 1.

Southwest will create a Rapid Rewards account for all AirTran frequent fliers who don’t already have one. AirTran A+ Rewards credits will be automatically converted to Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a ratio of 1 credit = 1,200 points.

The conversion process may take a couple of weeks, during which frequent fliers won’t be able to access their program activity. Southwest says it will notify members once the process is complete.

Also, all AirTran frequent fliers who had elite status expiring on or after Nov. 2 will get Rapid Reward A-List status through Dec. 31, 2015.

How Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program works

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program, revamped in 2011, has no blackout dates and points don’t expire, although you have to earn points every 24 months to keep your account active.

Points earned depend on fare. Wanna Get Away fares earn 6 points per dollar; Anytime fares earn 10 points per dollar; Business Select fares earn 12 points per dollar.

Points required for award travel also depend on the fare for the flight you’re trying to book. A Wanna Get Away fare costs 70 points per dollar; an Anytime fare costs 100 points per dollar; a Business Select fare costs 120 points per dollar.

The program has no blackout dates and points don’t expire, though you have to earn points every 24 months to keep your account active

How Delta’s SkyMiles program will work in 2015

Starting next year, the average Delta frequent flier will earn five miles for every dollar spent on a Delta flight. That means for a $300 fare, travelers will earn 1,500 miles.

But some other frequent fliers will earn more miles per dollar spent.

Those who use the Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card will earn seven miles for every dollar spent. And elite-level frequent flier members can earn anywhere from seven to 13 miles per dollar spent, depending on whether they are at silver, gold, platinum or diamond levels and if they have a Delta American Express card.

Starting next year, Delta will also have five mileage-redemption levels.

The minimum for domestic award tickets in Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flier program will remain 25,000 miles. But starting next year, other award levels are 35,000, 40,000, 50,000 or 65,000 miles.

In the new program, there are no blackout dates and miles still don't expire.

Here’s an example of how Delta frequent fliers will earn miles starting next year:

ATLANTA TO NEW YORK JFK ROUNDTRIP ON A $300 FARE

OLD PROGRAM:

1,518 miles earned

NEW PROGRAM:

SkyMiles member: $300 x 5 = 1,500 miles earned

SkyMiles member using Delta SkyMiles American Express credit card: $300 x 7 = 2,100 miles earned

SkyMiles member at Diamond elite level with the Delta credit card: $300 x 13 = 3,900 miles earned

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