SkyMiles is the frequent flyer program of SkyTeam member, Delta Air Lines, which is one of the major carriers in the US and a partner of Virgin Australia as well. SkyMiles can be used on a range of partner airline flights that aren’t easily accessible through other programs.
However, given that SkyMiles is based in the States, points earning opportunities for Australians are limited. This guide provides the basics for those who are thinking about the SkyMiles program for future travel.
How do I join Delta SkyMiles?
Signing up to the SkyMiles loyalty program is free. You can sign up using this link.
- Go to the SkyMiles enrolment page
- Enter your name and other personal details
- Create your login info including password and two security questions
- Click ‘Complete’ to finalise your registration
How do I earn SkyMiles?
Delta SkyMiles can be earned across a wide variety of partners, though most are based in the US. You’ll earn 5-11 miles per US$1 spent on Delta-marketed flights.
Closer to home, you could earn 25-200% of the mileage flown on Virgin Australia and other partner airlines into your SkyMiles balance, depending on cabin class. Browse the partner airlines list here, which also includes China Eastern, Korean Air, Garuda and more.
You could also:
- Earn 1 SkyMile for every US$1 spent on Airbnb stays worldwide (yes, this would work in Australia).
- Choose SkyMiles as your reward of choice when staying with hotel chains such as Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards Club, World of Hyatt and more.
- Shop online at SkyMiles Shopping with over 1,000 stores and earn miles for every dollar spent in the US
- Earn at least 1 SkyMile per US$1 spent on Lyft rides in the US.
While you can buy SkyMiles, the rates are usually quite expensive and there aren’t too many promos. SkyMiles don’t expire, which is a strong positive. Not many programs offer that.
How do I use SkyMiles?
Like any other frequent flyer program, SkyMiles usually give you the best return when used on flights — particularly premium cabin reward seats on international flights. However, Delta no longer publishes an award chart, even for partner airlines.
From a number of test searches, it’s readily apparent that all Virgin Australia domestic flights booked with Delta SkyMiles are priced at the same level (as of mid-Dec 2020):
- 22,500 miles: Economy Class one-way
- 40,000 miles: Business Class one-way
For your Sydney-Melbourne length flights, this is absolutely terrible value and should be avoided. It’s a bit better (but still not ideal) for longer flights such as Sydney-Perth. But Velocity Frequent Flyer is still cheaper overall.
Here are some of the indicative rates for flights from Australia to various destinations, but note that prices are dynamic and can change at any time:
|SkyMiles miles one-way travel from Sydney||Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|to Europe (e.g. with China Airlines)||60,000||–||90,000|
|to the US (e.g. with Delta)||80,000-465,000||125,000-465,000||225,000-465,000|
|to Asia (e.g. with Vietnam Airlines)||40,000||–||70,000|
As you can see, partner airline flights are quite reasonable in terms of SkyMiles, and also fixed price. Flying Sydney to London in China Airlines’ Airbus A350 Business Class for only 90,000 SkyMiles one-way is a steal.
Delta’s own flights have ridiculous asking rates in SkyMiles due to dynamic pricing during peak travel periods; an example screenshot is below, where both Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class was priced at 465,000 SkyMiles. No prizes for guessing what we’d pick if we absolutely had to fly!
This scenario also highlights the inherent problem with dynamic pricing. Yes, airlines can boast that they now offer more reward seats than ever. But when the price is more than quadruple the old asking rate, then you know it’s not a consumer-friendly move at all.
How do I earn Delta SkyMiles status?
Delta SkyMiles has four main status levels above the basic membership: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion.
These tiers are earned with a mix of Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD, for US-based members only), along with either Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS).
SkyTeam Elite benefits apply to the Silver Medallion level, while the better SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits with lounge access kick in with Gold Medallion status and higher.
Delta Silver Medallion
Achieve/Maintain: $3,000 MQDs (US residents) + 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs
SkyTeam equivalent: SkyTeam Elite
Delta Silver Medallion gets you started on the journey to some elite benefits:
- Waived baggage fees for you and up to 8 travel companions on your reservation
- Complimentary preferred seat selection
- Earn 7 SkyMiles per US$1 spent on Delta fares
- Complimentary upgrades to First Class, Delta One or Delta Comfort+ on U.S. 50 flights, beginning 24 hours prior to departure. Includes a companion.
- Priority check-in and boarding
Delta Gold Medallion
Achieve/Maintain: $6,000 MQDs (US residents) + 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs
SkyTeam equivalent: SkyTeam Elite Plus
In addition to Silver benefits, Gold Medallion members get:
- SkyTeam Elite Plus for international lounge access and priority perks on SkyTeam international partner flights
- Priority security screening and baggage delivery
- Earn 8 SkyMiles per US$1 spent on Delta fares
- Complimentary upgrades to First Class, Delta One or Delta Comfort+ on U.S. 50 flights, beginning 72 hours prior to departure. Includes a companion.
- Waived Same-Day Confirmed and Standby fees
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status
Delta Platinum Medallion
Achieve/Maintain: $9,000 MQDs (US residents) + 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs
SkyTeam equivalent: SkyTeam Elite Plus
New perks over Silver and Gold Medallion include:
- Earn 9 SkyMiles per US$1 spent on Delta fares
- Complimentary upgrades to First Class or Delta One on U.S. 50 flights, beginning 120 hours prior to departure. Complimentary upgrade to Delta Comfort+ shortly after ticketing. Includes a companion.
- Waived Award redeposit/reissue fees
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle status
- One credit to use on the following ‘Choice Benefits’
- 4x Regional Upgrade Certificates
- 20,000 bonus SkyMiles
- Gift Medallion Silver status
Delta Diamond Medallion
Achieve/Maintain: $15,000 MQDs (US residents) + 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs
SkyTeam equivalent: SkyTeam Elite Plus
As the top tier available, Diamond Medallions can enjoy:
- Earn 11 SkyMiles per US$1 spent on Delta fares
- Complimentary upgrades to First Class or Delta One on U.S. 50 flights, beginning 120 hours prior to departure with a higher priority. Complimentary upgrade to Delta Comfort+ shortly after ticketing. Includes a companion.
- VIP Customer Service line
- Three credits to use on the following ‘Choice Benefits’
- Delta Sky Club Individual Membership [1 credit]
- Delta Sky Club Executive Membership [2 credits without existing Sky Club membership, 1 credit with an existing membership]
- Delta Sky Club Guest Pass for those with credit card access
- 4x Global or 8x Regional or 2x Global AND 4x Regional Upgrade Certificates
- 25,000 bonus SkyMiles
- Gift Medallion Gold status
How do I contact Delta SkyMiles?
To get in touch with Delta SkyMiles about a membership enquiry or flight redemption, try:
- calling 800-323-2323 from the US or 1800 144 917 from Australia (charges may apply)
- sending them a direct message on Twitter or Facebook
While the call centre might be the quickest way to resolve your issue, try the social media channels if the line is busy or you’re not able to call overseas numbers.
Delta SkyMiles has the potential to be a great frequent flyer program. The miles don’t expire which is positive. You can earn SkyMiles in Australia by flying on Virgin Australia or by booking Airbnb stays.
When it comes to using SkyMiles, there are some tremendously good-value redemptions such as the China Airlines Sydney to London example for 90,000 miles in Business Class. On the flipside, Delta’s own flights are subject to dynamic pricing, which can really blow the numbers out of the water.