Northwest Introduces Award Booking Fees

Northwest announced several more changes to their WorldPerks program as they proceed with their merger with Delta Skymiles.  They’ve introduced elite qualification by flight segments (good) and are removing Saturday stay requirements for saver-level redemption bookings beginning January 15 (also good).

As I’ve previously suggested, it will become possible to move miles between a WorldPerks and Skymiles account in February (good). And they’re introducing a three-tiered award structure like Delta and raising the price of many awards (very bad).

But here’s the whammy from today’s e-mail:

Also effective January 15, 2009, Northwest will introduce a new award ticket redemption fee and will increase our award reissue and redeposit fees from $50 to $100.

Award Ticket Redemption Timeframes
(WorldPerks Platinum Elites are exempt from this fee)
Award Ticket Fees
3 days or less prior to departure date $150 per ticket
4 – 7 days prior to departure date $100 per ticket
8 – 20 days prior to departure date $75 per ticket
21 days or more prior to departure date No Charge

I should point out that management believes they need to align the Skymiles and Worldperks program if they are going to permit members to move points back-and-forth.  Otherwise members would have an opportunity to arbitrage the benefits of each, e.g. moving Skymiles over to Worldperks to avoid last minute booking fees.

I don’t think that result would be so terrible, and most members wouldn’t be savvy enough to do it.  But I certainly understand why they don’t want to permit members to circumvent the restrictions of one program by moving their points to another.  And allowing points to be moved and thus combined prior to full integration of the program is in fact a benefit, as more members will thus have the critical mass of miles necessary in order to secure the awards they want. 

May the WorldPerks program rest in peace…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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