Earlier in the year there were significant rumors that Delta would be moving to a revenue-based frequent flyer program.
There have been job postings describing positions to drive a change to a revenue-based program, and a leaked memo about no longer displaying distances flown on trips and replacing it with a calculator of how many points a customer would earn based on the price of their ticket, along with eventually aligning the mileage cost of award tickets with the price that the tickets are selling for on a given day.
I understand that when word of these potential changes leaked, that a firestorm was let loose in Atlanta. They were freaking out at Delta headquarters.
And then things went silent. The rumors were that they were going to be releasing details on the new program early in the calendar year, but that didn’t happen.
As we know from Delta’s changes to its award chart this week, they don’t believe they owe their customers explanations of changes they’re making, or advance notice of those changes either. Delta still hasn’t posted any sort of notice that they’ve changed the cost of some awards, they simply changed the award chart for a handful of award routings as though no other pricing previously existed.
Today it seems that the Delta website was showing reduced mileage and elite qualifying mile earning on discounted tickets. The bottom fares, and mind you this is on domestic flights were earning displaying that they would earn 25% of flown miles and just 25% of those miles being elite-qualifying (in other words, 25% of 25%).
Now, last month (and they did give two weeks’ notice!) Delta announced that certain unpublished fares would no longer earn full mileage although it’s not always made clear which fares those are.
So reducing earning on inexpensive fares is hardly new for Delta. It’s something they tried to do back in 2003, and gave up on — in part due to a customer revolt that included roving billboards outside shareholders meetings declaring that Delta stood for “Driving Every Loyal Traveler Away.”
Delta apparently says that what’s been going on with mileage crediting is incorrect. It seems there’s an IT error, but no word exactly on what that error is. It could just as easily be that something like this is rolling out early rather than that nothing is happening at all. Put a different way, they could have tested changes on a live site by mistake (and still gotten it wrong, I really don’t expect lowest fares to earn 25% of 25% of mileage flown towards status).
At this point we don’t know what’s going on, there’s only speculation. But I’m willing to speculate that something is up over at Delta, and that a majority of customers will not like what it turns out to be.