For the first time that I can remember, an airline has really helped themselves retain their frequent fliers after they reach top tier status.
Here is what Delta has done. If you reach any status level during a calendar year, but not quite enough miles to reach the next tier, the excess elite qualifying miles over the achieved status will carry over into the next years calculation.
My example with United is this: I have 102,000 Elite qualifying miles schedules with United this year including our trip to Hawaii and December and the outbound portion of our trip to New Zealand December 28th. I have had no previous incentive to continue flying United in 2009 as I would not reach the next award level (150K for two more system-wide upgrades). I actually have considered working on my American Lifetime Platinum status for new flights booked the remainder of this year.
If United adopts the policy that Delta has just announced, they would continue to get my business as the miles would count towards next years Elite Qualifying Miles goal.
This is a smart move on Deltas part and I am in hopes that the other legacy carriers adopt the same terms and conditions. Please understand that if you do not achieve at least the first tier of elite status there will be no rollover for you into next year.
Come on, big boys. Match this one.