As travelers digest Delta Air Lines' announcement that it will become the biggest U.S. carrier to award frequent-flier miles based on airfare rather than distance flown, the switch is getting extra scrutiny from passengers who have turned earning miles into an art form.
Travel hackers—frequent fliers who try to accumulate the most points while spending as little money as possible— will be losing one major way of boosting their accounts: mileage runs. For them, cheap fares with long routes will no longer produce the same mileage bonanza under Delta's new system.
"The travel hackers—unquestionably, they're the losers. They simply are not going to be able to generate significant numbers of miles through long, cheap flights. That is systematically ruled out by the new program," Winship said.
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"On the other hand, if you're someone who travels frequently—and of course we're talking first and foremost here about business travelers and that's really who Delta is targeting with this new scheme…those people are going to make out just fine."