The advantage of SkyMiles is the fact that it has so many partners. In many ways, it is much like any other mileage program. Where it really is beneficial is the reciprocity of the program in terms of on which carriers you can accrue and burn miles. There are a lot of options, both in and outside of SkyTeam.
Of course, like most other frequent flyer programs, it is hard to use your miles. However, Delta has the capability in one search to check ALL
its SkyTeam partner airlines for availability, so you don't have to call everybody to check each carriers for space. This is a major advantage over Mileage Plus, because in some cases, United must request the space from the other partner.
Of course, the tie to American Express is the big factor. With Membership Rewards, you can accrue 1 point for each $1 in spending and in some cases 2 points for every $1 in spending. These points add up fast and there is no limit on what you can accrue. You can transfer those points to Delta and use them in SkyMiles. So if you travel frequently AND
use your American Express card for travel purchases, you will very quickly accrue points and miles and be able to combine them for fast accrual of points sufficient for domestic and international free tickets.
Finally, it is very easy to work with SkyMiles. One phone call to Delta's SkyMiles desk and you pretty much have everything done for you. The Customer Service at SkyMiles (in my experience) has been quite good and the mileage awards I have been able to use with them have been easy to obtain and easy to use.
My recommendation, therefore, is SkyMiles, hands down.
Second would be OnePass...followed by MileagePlus.
Stay away from AAdvantage and the OneWorld partners. The program is heavily focused on using American and if American is not available, it is hard to get partner seats.
If you are only going between Florida and New York and that is only your ambition, then look at JetBlue's program. You can accrue pretty fast, but spending it is a little tougher...but then again, JetBlue is worth the effort.
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998