Delta and Starwood recently announced that they were going to provide reciprocal benefits to each other’s elite members. In my mind, this is great news for news for semi-infrequent travelers like myself.
As part of the new program, all Starwood elite members will receive one mile per dollar spent on Delta flights. Unfortunately, you can’t book these flights through any sort of travel agency and points aren’t earned on codeshare flights, but gaining the ability to earn additional SPG points on top of the usual Delta miles is a big win for Starwood elites. If you’re a Starwood Platinum member, you’ll also get a free checked bag for the elite member and up to three companions, priority check-in, and priority boarding. While at some point there were rumors about Starwood Platinum members having the ability to get upgraded on domestic flights, it doesn’t appear to be part of the program yet. These benefits are obviously a big win for Starwood Platinum members who aren’t currently Delta elite members. Priority Check-in and free checked bags can save those members a lot of time and money. As far as SPG Gold members are concerned, an additional way to earn SPG points is always welcome.
For Delta elite members, they gain the ability to earn one SkyMile for every dollar spent on eligible room rates. While SkyMiles aren’t hugely valuable, I’ll gladly take them if they’re offered. These are also in addition to the SPG points that you would have earned anyways. It sounds like the miles will only be awarded for the price of the room, but we’ll have to wait to see if other types of spend at Starwood properties – such as dining – will qualify as well. Delta Platinum and Diamond elites get additional benefits: elite check-in, free internet, late check-out and semi-upgrades. For those members that aren’t Starwood elites, the free internet and late check-out are big perks for staying at Starwood properties. Internet can sometimes run $25 per day so being able to get that for free will save a lot of money. Similar to the benefits that Starwood elites will now earn on Delta flights, this is a big win for Delta Platinum and Diamond members.
In my opinion, this makes my decision as a non-elite member much easier. It’s hard for me to qualify for elite status because I don’t travel for business and most of my leisure travel is done with miles and points. With Starwood Platinum status, I get almost all of the benefits of Delta Silver status on top of the usual Starwood benefits. I’ll get free checked bags, priority check-in, and priority boarding plus the ability to earn SPG points on Delta flights. While I wouldn’t get domestic upgrades, Delta Silver members don’t get them a lot anyways so I’m not missing a whole lot. Finally, it’s very easy to earn Starwood Gold status, and isn’t too out of reach to earn Platinum status. The SPG American Express Credit Card and SPG Business American Express Credit Card will each get me 5 night credits and 2 stay credits towards elite status for a total of 10 nights or 4 stays. For Gold status, I’ll only need an additional six stays or 15 nights and for Platinum, I’d need 21 stays or 40 nights to qualify. Six stays is easy since there is Four Points near my home in Massachusetts and I can check in there if needed. 21 stays is a little more challenging. Luckily, award reservations count towards elite status with Starwood, which makes it a little more attainable.
By becoming an elite member with Starwood, I am able to get the equivalent of elite status with Delta as well. This means that I can focus on a different airline for real elite status if I wanted to do so.