Delta to reward its most frequent of fliers

Air travel » New diamond level is added for passengers who fly at least 125,000 miles a year.
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Delta Air Lines is adding a fourth tier of benefits for ultra-frequent fliers who make the equivalent of 41 cross-country trips a year.

The carrier will provide a "diamond" level of perks for members of its SkyMiles Medallion program who fly at least 125,000 miles, or 140 flight segments, a year, beginning in 2010, Delta announced Tuesday.

As of now, the medallion program has three benefit levels -- silver, gold and platinum -- for SkyMiles members who fly 25,000, 50,000 and 75,000 miles a year, respectively. The levels are also available to passengers who fly 30, 60 and 100 segments.

Requirements for reaching the first three levels aren't changing. What's different is the diamond level.

"The new diamond level recognizes our most loyal customers and rewards them with the richest benefits of any airline, which they deserve, based on their frequent travels and loyalty," spokesman Anthony Black said in an e-mail.

Passengers with diamond status also get free memberships in Delta's airport SkyClubs, unlike silver, gold and platinum members, who get discounts.

Diamond, platinum and gold medallion members will have ticketing fees waived for all bookings made by phone, online or in person.

Diamond and platinum members will get to choose from a list of benefits such as upgrades, gift cards and bonus miles. Diamond members can choose two benefits; platinum members can pick one benefit.

Delta has also modified its policy on frequent-flier miles.

For the first time, miles accumulated beyond the threshold for membership in each medallion level will be rolled over to the following year instead of being voided.

For example, a passenger who accumulates 70,000 frequent flier miles in 2010 will be qualified for gold medallion status. The 20,000 miles that exceed the 50,000-mile threshold will be rolled over, giving the passenger a head start on earning status in 2011.