Starwood Introducing Points-Earning and Status Benefits on Delta

Two weeks ago I noted a Starwood trademark for the term “Crossover Rewards” and this morning was alerted by this Milepoint thread that we now know what those are: benefits for Starwood elite members when flying Delta.

Whether other travel providers will be included in the future is, as-yet, unclear although my guess is that Delta is first on-board and will remain so for awhile, as the exclusivity is what would have been enticing for them, a way to drive Starwood elite member business to the airline while Starwood provides more value to their members.

Loyalty Lobby has the terms and conditions. While details aren’t online yet, they’ll be coming at both Delta.com and spg.com/crossover rewards.

Starwood Elites Will Earn Points for Flying Delta

Starwood Gold and Platinum members will be able to link their Delta and Starwood accounts, and then they will earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on Delta tickets (although unpublished fares will earn a flat 500 Starpoints per segment and anything booked through an online travel agency will not earn Starpoints). If any flights on a ticket are operated by another airline or contain another airline’s code, then the ticket will not earn any Starpoints.

Starwood Platinums Will Effectively Have Status on Delta

Delta elites don’t receive any incremental benefits besides Starpoints-earning from this program, all benefits are subordinate to Delta status and to those stemming from holding a Delta co-branded credit card (rather than being additive). But some of the benefits for Starwood Platinums will approximate modest Delta status.

Starwood Platinums will receive:

  • First checked bag free (for themselves and up to 3 companions)
  • Zone 1 priority boarding (for themselves and up to 8 companions)
  • Priority check-in (at Silver counters where offered, otherwise Sky Priority check-in)
  • Day of departure upgrades (excluding flights with BusinessElite seating other than New York-San Francisco/Los Angeles flights). One imagines that the upgrades will work similarly to how Alaska Airlines top elites are handled with Delta.

It seems as though Starwood Platinum will be similar in many ways to Delta’s Silver status. Now that there’s a $2500 minimum revenue requirement to earn Silver, it may make sense to just earn Starwood Platinum rather than concentrate loyalty with Delta for flying 25,000 miles.

Hotels and Airlines Value the Same Customers

Hotel chains — especially Starwood and Hilton — have long been offering targeted Gold status to airline elites, on the thinking that frequent flyers are likely also frequent guests and that they could sway some business this way. Last year Hyatt gifted many Gold Passport members (sadly, not me!) 50,000 United miles, and I haven’t gotten a real understanding of what happened there though I’ve wondered if they had pre-purchased large blocks of those miles and found that they were expiring unawarded.

So there’s certainly airline and hotel tie-ins at the status level, and more fundamentally hotel programs have long leveraged airline frequent flyer programs which traditionally people have been more closely tied into.

Early on hotels began awarding airline miles before developing their own programs or as a choice because a large number of people concentrate their loyalty activities in only a single program — although most of the time a hotel is going to be more rewarding with its own points rather than when buying airline miles. That’s not always true, especially when awarding a fixed number of points per stay and it’s a cheap one-night stay (think Hyatt and also Hilton’s fixed miles option).

Will Delta Shift Away from Close Ties to Hilton?

Delta seems an odd choice for the Starwood tie-in, since Delta has been much more closely aligned with Hilton running several promotions in recent times (such as this fall promotion) where Hilton stays earn Delta qualifying miles towards status.

Accumulating qualifying miles with Delta is now much less important than it used to be since you don’t earn status without minimum spending. Bonus qualifying miles will really only matter for high fare people who meet minimum spend without flying very much (e.g. paid international business class travelers).

Ironic that the new Delta qualifying methodology could turn premium cabin flyers into mileage runners, they meet the minimum spend but now need the required flown miles.

Starwood benefits on Delta should be launching soon..!

I’m just a Starwood Gold these days (both through stays and from the American Express Platinum card), and if I wind up flying Delta I’ll certainly pick up incremental Starpoints for doing so. It will definitely be worth registering for this!

And if I were a Starwood Platinum and not an airline elite this might encourage me to pick Delta, although if I were in that position I’d be inclined to get the premium Delta American Express card that comes with many of these benefits anyway — or the premium card of the airline with the best service in my city.

For most I suspect it’ll just be an extra benefit when flying Delta, since those status-like benefits apply to Starwood members who aren’t already flying Delta very much already, and not a strong reason to choose Delta. but it’s still certainly a ‘plus’ at the top tier of Starwood’s program!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I agree that it’s odd for Delta to form a closer relationship with SPG but I’m also thinking that since AMEX is the issuer of both Delta and SPG cards, they are probably trying to create a firm relationship like the one United has with Chase. Either way, thanks for this update.

  2. If Delta account is linked to my SPG (i have only Gold), will i receive points for EITHER SPG or Delta or both? When will this happen with SPG and Delta?

  3. I knew you will put this way. You stole loyalty lobby again. Please stop doing that. I like his blog. You always stole from him and every time you pretend you find it by yourself. If you do, please write before loyaltylobby, not always after him. Every this blog reader, if you have time to read loyalty lobby you know this “view from the wing” is just a thief.

  4. @jeniffer — umm, I *linked to* loyalty lobby at the top of this post, how am i stealing from it? I link to Loyalty Lobby frequently. Meanwhile Loyalty Lobby writes about plenty of offers after I do and never links to me. Truly don’t get your issue.

  5. @sl – you will receive starwood points and delta miles for the trip it seems. i do not know if you will be able to triple dip with skybonus though

  6. Oh, the crossover rewards is with….. Delta

    ::rolls eyes::

    I doubt we’ll see crossovers with many more airlines, certainly not the major US ones. All are in bed with other banks

  7. jennifer…nothing was stolen, as content posted on blogs are publicly viewable by anyone. Not to mention the fact that this was also posted on milepoint for everyone in the world to view. No harm, no foul.

  8. The travel bloggers do nothing but copy each others’ posts (to create content and Twitter appearances) and “hat tip” (HT) each other. No harm, no foul in this instance. Same ol’, same ol’ regurgitation (though, in this case, helpful).

  9. In a nut shell SPG has exactly the demograhpic Delta needs so this can be pretty clever for both partners.
    In my years past with some insight at both companies
    I’d say that the Starwood Platinum customer is clearly the higher spending more desirable customer on average at the top tier level.Hilton has many Diamond members who stay at the limited service properties where they tend to be less expensive and dont spend another cent over the actual cost of the room
    In this case quantity of top tier members doesn’t equal or translate to quality.Less bottom feeders at SPG.
    Delta needs more business travelers and those willing to pay the higher premium fares.

  10. So, I dont have SPG status – will they status match me (i have Hilton Gold, Hyatt Platinum and LeClub Platinum) so that I can take advantage of this?

  11. @D Horn

    I doubt this will change many of our spending patterns.

    If I want to fly on an airline where I get a first checked bag free without status, and get revenue based FF currency for it, I’ll fly Jetblue

    Since it requires flying Delta, I doubt this news applies to many of Gary’s readers

    🙂

  12. I wonder if this new relationship was precipitated by AMEX. Since the bank has solid connections with both companies (Delta & Starwood), it makes sense they could have been involved.

    In addition, this makes the AMEX Platinum charge card more valuable, as I think it grants SPG Gold status. Extra SPG points for just owning the card (for those of us that Fly DL anyway), especially those that don’t frequent SPG properties due to location, adds to the Delta lounge benefit and $200 airline credit.

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