Frequent flier miles becoming less rewarding

Delta program to now reward travelers for how much they spend, not how far they fly

By Eryka Washington - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Airlines are cracking down on everything from luggage to frequent flier miles.

The changes are making it tougher for you the consumer to reap rewards. Some airlines have made flying the friendly skies a little less friendly with recent changes. 

Delta just announced how consumers rack up miles is changing. Instead of how much you fly in a year, it's all about how much you spend.

"So really what that means for most consumers is if you pride yourself on getting cheap airfare you are going to earn a lot less frequent flier miles with delta," said Brian Kelley a national travel expert.

Redeeming those miles for flights may change too. So not only are you going to be earning less miles, it may become much harder to use them as well.

Kelley suggests taking your business to another airline that rewards the leisure traveler.

United and American Airlines still reward miles based on how far you fly.

You can also post your displeasure on social media.  Airlines are paying close attention to Facebook and Twitter and don't want negative messages out to your network of friends.

Or you can transfer your miles to an airlines partner. For instance, Delta is partners with both Alaska Airlines and Air France.

"You can actually fly Delta and bank your frequent flier miles to one of their airlines that might give you more miles," explains Kelley.

Airlines are also cracking down on carry-ons.

United will charge you at the gate if your bag doesn't fit in the sizer, so make sure you know the dimensions of your bags or you will be paying a fee at the gate.

Another change American Airlines is no longer offering bereavement fares. 

"I think they should make it easier especially at that time in someone else's life I feel like it's taking advantage of a bad situation," said one traveler Local 6 spoke to at Orlando International Airport.

Kelley suggests if you have to purchase any kind of last minute ticket use frequent flier miles.

"Last minute is the best time to redeem miles for availability at the lowest level so never discount using those miles or points last minute," Kelley said.

Kelley also recommends flying Southwest airlines because they are the most flexible airline with no extra charge to change your flight.

They only charge increase fare for flight not $200 per change fee most airlines charge.

And there are no fees to check your bags.

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