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Delta PlanesDelta might still charge for checked luggage, flight changes, and even TV shows on some flights, but the Atlanta-based carrier made a surprisingly generous move yesterday when it announced that, as of January 1, 2011, it will eliminate expiration dates for its SkyMiles frequent flyer program – the only U.S. carrier to do so.

Previously, flyers had to use award points within two years; the new system completely abolishes that requirement, according to a statement on Delta’s website: “Effective January 1, 2011, we eliminated our mileage expiration policy so you can earn and redeem miles without worrying about if and when your miles will expire.”


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The magnanimous decision is likely an effort to pacify loyal followers who complained when Delta introduced its three-tiered SkyMiles rewards program in 2008. Though advertised as a flexible model, the restructured system actually made it more difficult to find and book lower-priced award flights, angering Delta’s most frequent flyers and giving other legacy carriers more ammunition in the battle for those valuable jet-setting customers.


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Regardless of the reasoning, getting rid of mileage expiration dates is a refreshingly pro-customer step – now let’s hope that the world’s second-largest carrier sparks an industry-wide trend.

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