Most in the mainstream press just don’t get it. Most, when I talk to them, still think that Delta elite status is based on how much you spend with the airline (it is not btw, it is based on distance plus fare class). Then, in addition to that most think you earn more elite points if you are an elite (you don’t, you only earn more SkyMiles). But this piece from the NYT is very accurate and spot on. Much of this due to the source for the piece, that is, Boarding Area’s own Gary Leff.
For a long time “View from the Wing” has been VERY critical of SkyMiles. Until about a year ago I enjoyed “blog fights” showing how in many areas he was taking it too far because there was true value to be had with SkyMiles it just took a lot of work to find that value. Now, it is truly simpler to find how many devaluations Delta has made over the past few years compared to the number of improvements they have made for flyers.
But here is the thing, folks, and what everyone needs to understand:
Delta does not care!
Delta jets are full. They are convinced that the award program is irrelevant other than acting as yet one more source of revenue for Delta. It has ceased to be a loyalty program. End of story.
Personally, I think Delta would very much like to simply dump SkyMiles altogether, but it is such a source of revenue that they cannot lock, stock and barrel end it.
I think the NYT piece’s most revealing and well focused statement was:
“But Delta also hasn’t moved to a transparent miles redemption system that is based entirely on the cash price that the “free” ticket would otherwise cost, as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways do.” – NYT
And that is the rub of the matter and I think the reason for this is AMEX and SkyMiles. Moving to a transparent, say 1 cent or even 1/2 cent, value for SkyMiles would make it simple. But it would do one other HUGE thing – it would make earning SkyMiles worthless (more so than it already is now, that is).
I mean, there are literally dozens of other cash back, not to mention other airline credit cards, that offer a much greater value to a card member when it comes to redeeming their points for COACH travel. Thus the need for Delta to carry on with this current silly hybrid system that confuses everyone and helps no one but Delta.
Personally, I respect those who simply fly Delta for the seat, product and service and never ever look at their frequent flyer account other than their elite point standing. At least those who do this and are willing to pay for 1st class tickets often as well as purchasing high priced and high fare class coach seats (thus netting more upgrades with top status and the high priced Delta Reserve card) will enjoy what Delta has to offer at the time of flight.
What did you think of the New York Times piece? Were you surprised to see such an accurate story for a mainstream press article? – René
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