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DELTA RETHINKING SKYMILES RULES

Published Sep. 1, 2005

Delta Air Lines frequent fliers may be getting a few more breaks from the No. 1 carrier at Tampa International Airport.

Delta angered some veterans of its SkyMiles rewards program by cracking down on perks when they flew on cheap, nonrefundable tickets. A group of unhappy travelers launched a Web site (www.saveskymiles.com) and wore buttons that read "Driving Every Loyal Traveler Away."

Delta executives are telling employees they're committed to winning back high-paying business travelers that left for low-fare carriers. Vicki Escarra, chief marketing officer, told the Dallas Morning News last week that means reversing changes that rankled frequent fliers.

Details aren't complete, she said, but Delta plans to relax a policy that makes nonrefundable tickets worthless if travelers don't show up for their flight without rescheduling their trip beforehand.

Delta is looking at letting business travelers' nonrefundable tickets hold their value for 90 days or more, Escarra said. The airline might waive fees when customers change nonrefundable tickets under special circumstances.

Also, Delta could liberalize the number of upgrades for SkyMiles elite-level fliers. That would put the carrier more in line with alliance partners Northwest and Continental, which give their best customers unlimited upgrades as space allows.