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Recently a number of U.S. airlines — American, Delta, JetBlue, and United — have announced new programs or modifications to existing programs that could have both negative and positive impacts on their frequent fliers. (Justine Beckett/The New York Times) -- NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH STORY SLUGGED FREQUENT-FLIERS-AVD14 BY STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. -- PHOTO MOVED IN ADVANCE AND NOT FOR USE - ONLINE OR IN PRINT - BEFORE JULY 14, 2013.

Justine Beckett • New York Times,

Big changes in frequent flier programs

  • Article by: STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM
  • New York Times
  • July 12, 2013 - 2:29 PM

Change is in the air: Over the past few weeks a number of U.S. airlines — American, Delta, United — have announced new programs or modifications to existing programs that will have an impact on their frequent fliers. Some changes could be for the better (earning miles on partner airlines, converting hotel stays into airline miles), others not so much (higher award ticket fees, disappearing bonuses). Here’s what you need to know.

American Airlines

After years of being estranged, American and Marriott Hotels are back together. If you’re a member of both the AAdvantage and Marriott Rewards loyalty programs, you can now earn miles during your next hotel stay. If you’re not already a member of the Marriott program, you can earn AAdvantage Miles on your next stay by logging onto Marriottrewards.com and choosing “miles/other program” under “earning preferences” and then selecting “American Airlines.” The number of miles you can earn depends on where you stay.

If you want to convert Marriott Rewards Points to AAdvantage Miles, you need to amass at least 10,000 points to do so: 10,000 points equals 2,000 miles. To celebrate the reunion of the two brands, American is offering 500 AAdvantage bonus miles when you stay at one of Marriott’s more than 3,700 participating properties between Monday and Aug. 15. Information: aa.com/ marriott.

Frequent fliers to the Caribbean may be interested in learning that late last month American announced that it is now code-sharing with Seaborne Airlines (based in St. Croix). Information: aa.com/seaborne.

Delta Air Lines

Last month, as Delta acquired a 49 percent equity stake in Virgin Atlantic, the airlines announced a code-share agreement across 108 routes in North America and Britain. What does that mean for Delta and Virgin Atlantic’s respective loyalty program members? For one thing, reciprocal access to Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges for Upper Class and Business­Elite passengers as well as for Flying Club Gold, SkyMiles Platinum and Diamond members. Also: “priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling and additional baggage allowance on all Virgin Atlantic and Delta operated flights (not just those within the code-share agreement) for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and Flying Club Gold members, and for Delta Business­Elite and SkyMiles Gold, Platinum and Diamond members.”

Delta SkyMiles and Virgin Flying Club members can earn bonus miles on all Delta and Virgin Atlantic flights, as well. The agreement also means that Delta customers will have access to six additional daily flights between London and New York, and Virgin Atlantic customers will have a larger network of connecting North American destinations. Information: Delta.com and Virgin-Atlantic.com.

Delta is making other, less welcome, changes too. Miles and points blogs have noted that beginning Sept. 1, Delta will be using a new partner airline mileage earning chart that in some instances does away with elite mileage bonuses for Medallion members, among other things. As Brian Kelly, a miles wonk, explained on his blog, ThePointsGuy.com, if for instance you were to book a business class seat on Korean Air before Sept. 1, you would earn the miles you’ve flown, plus a “class of service” bonus of 25 or 35 percent, 75 or 100 percent Medallion Qualifying Miles and a bonus for your Medallion level. After Sept. 1, however, you would earn only the miles you’ve flown. Information: delta.com.

United Airlines

Next year, United’s MileagePlus loyalty program will introduce a minimum annual passenger spending requirement in addition to the usual qualifying miles requirements. To achieve 2015 Premier Silver status, for instance, passengers will have to spend at least $2,500 (on basic fares and surcharges like Economy Plus seating). That’s in addition to flying 25,000 qualifying miles or 30 segments. Premier Gold Status will require a minimum of 50,000 miles (or 60 segments) plus $5,000. Premier Platinum status will be 75,000 miles (or 90 segments) and $7,500. Premier 1K will be 100,000 miles (or 120 segments) and $10,000.

If, however, you own a MileagePlus Chase credit card issued in the United States and spend at least $25,000, the minimum spending requirement for Premier Silver, Gold and Platinum status will be waived (not for 1K status though). The new rules come a few months after Delta announced similar new minimum spending requirements that go into effect next year. Details: mileageplusupdates.com.

United has also increased certain fees for MileagePlus award tickets. Up until late last month, passengers at the “general member” level could make changes to flights booked 21 or more days before the date of travel (as long as they didn’t involve a different origin or destination) for free. Now such changes are $75. Changes that are made less than 21 days before the date of travel or that involve changing the origin or destination at any time are $100, up from $75. The fee for canceling an award ticket and requesting a miles re-credit is $200, up from $150. Information: united.com.

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