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Opinion
Matthew C Klein

Is Airline Elite Status Only for Elites?

Delta is making its frequent-flier program more exclusive. That might not be a bad thing.
Pay more at Delta, get more at Delta. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg
Pay more at Delta, get more at Delta. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Starting in 2015, Delta Air Lines Inc. will award frequent-flier miles to customers based on how much they pay, rather than how far they fly. The idea is to redistribute scarce resources toward those with the most money. In this case, that's probably for the best.

Southwest Airlines Co. already distributes Rapid Rewards points according to ticket prices rather than distance traveled, and Bloomberg Businessweek reports that other major airlines are likely to move in a similar direction. Delta and United Continental Holdings Inc. also recently established minimum spending requirements to qualify for various levels of rewards status, in addition to the existing mileage requirements.