The world of award travel and elite perks continues to shake and shift.
Delta, which like United, has switched for next year to awarding flight miles based not on distance but on price paid for ticket—a move that hurts many frequent fliers, but not the frequent buyers who earn their miles through credit cards—has now put a further crimp in benefits by changing the rules on international awards.
Starting next year, travelers on those awards will no longer be able to get a free stopover along the way (fly from NY to Rome, say, with a week stopover in Milan, and then home from Rome to NY). Open jaw awards (fly NY to Paris, then home Berlin to NY) will no longer be treated as simple round trips; they will be priced as two one-ways, often requiring more points. DETAILS
United and Delta have both also raised by 20% the amount elite members need to spend in 2015 to keep that status in 2016. For really frequent fliers, the elite perks can be more important than free tickets. MORE
On the other hand, American, which has so far stuck with the per-mile rather than per-dollar model, is also again offering members with elite status who fall a little short of earning it again the opportunity to keep elite status by paying a fee. The program also allows those who are close to the next higher level to get there with a supplemental fee. Program DETAILS here