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Delta enhancing frequent-flier program

ATLANTA – Delta Air Lines Inc. is taking a page from the cell phone industry and will be allowing elite frequent fliers to roll over miles earned above their qualification status in a given year so they have an easier time maintaining that status or improving to a higher one the next year.

The world’s biggest airline operator planned to announce Tuesday enhancements to its SkyMiles Medallion program that will go into effect over the next nine months.

The changes come at a time of weak demand in the airline industry amid the recession. Business travel, in particular, has been in a slump, and giving extra advantages to elite frequent fliers could be one way to lure in more business travelers.

Atlanta-based Delta has three elite frequent flier statuses — silver, gold and platinum — and will be adding a fourth, diamond. Customers reach those levels by flying a lot — you reach the lowest level after flying 30 segments in a year — and in return they get extra benefits like priority boarding, waived checked bag fees and free upgrades.

Now, Delta says it will allow customers to retain any Medallion qualification miles earned above a Medallion threshold at the end of the year, supplementing the ability to earn status the following year. For example, should a member accrue 40,000 Medallion qualification miles in one calendar year, the 15,000 Medallion qualification miles that exceed the 25,000 threshold for silver status will be rolled over to the following year.

Delta said there is no limit to the number of miles rolled over, and the benefit takes effect immediately.

The rollover idea is similar to one offered for several years to some AT&T cell phone customers, who can roll over unused minutes in certain plans to the following month.

Among other changes coming from Delta:

_The new diamond level for flyers who earn 125,000 MQMs or fly 140 segments per calendar year will include a complimentary Delta Sky Club membership, among other benefits.

_Diamond, platinum and gold Medallion members will have ticketing fees waived for all bookings, whether completed by phone, online or in person.

By HARRY R. WEBER, AP Airlines Writer Harry R. Weber, Ap Airlines Writer

Article from YahooNews

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