I’ve never done a mileage run. For those of you who aren’t airline or airfare “geeks”, that’s when a frequent flyer member buys a really cheap airfare (such as New York to LA for $129) and flies not to actually get somewhere but simply to earn airline miles and obtain status in a frequent flyer program.

Seems like torture to me, but there you have it. When I was a kid flying on a TWA 707 circa 1965, sure, flying was a blast and I loved it. That was then, this is now. I’m not a kid anymore and flying isn’t as much fun. I only fly to get somewhere I need to be.

But now, for many “mileage runners” flying is even less rewarding, thanks to changes in Delta’s frequent flyer program, which American and United are sure to follow, eventually.

As of January 2015, when you fly from New York to LA, for example, on Delta for that rock bottom $129 price, you may earn not the usual 2550 or so miles (based on the actual distance), but rather 5 miles per airfare dollar (or a paltry 645 miles). You’ll earn 2 more miles per dollar if you charge your fare to a Delta credit card but that’s still only 903 miles. If you’re an uber-frequent flyer (a “diamond medallion”) in Delta’s program, you’ll get 11 miles per dollar on that $129 fare, but that’s still only 1419 miles, 1000 less than in the old program.

Of course if you’re flying on a $2500 business class fare you’ll make out like a bandit, which is the whole point of these changes. Delta wants you buy their more expensive fares rather than the crazy low ones that we love so well to post on Airfarewatchdog.com.

The only good news is that the new rules don’t affect qualifying for elite status (silver, diamond, etc.), which will still be based on miles flown. But the miles you earn for award travel will be based on your spend.

Even so, combined with new minimum spend requirements (starting at $2500 per year to achieve the lowest status) it will be harder than ever for many people to attain status in frequent flyer programs.

Further reading
: Is frequent flyer status everything it used to be?

Above image via Shutterstock

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