My theory was that Delta had already ‘spent too much money’ buying award seats from Air France, compared to their budget or what they were comfortable with, so they had turned off the spigot.
I was careful to call this speculation, but it seemed reasonable because they had done something similar in the past.
I rejected the idea that it was Air France making a permanent policy change. It makes no sense that Air France would close off business class award space, across-the-board, on an ongoing basis — when there’s clearly seats that they expect to go unsold, and when they’re even in a joint business venture with Delta.
And I rejected the theory of a temporary technology problem. It’s also not likely a temporary IT problem, since it coincides with Delta telling its agents that availability would be reduced. And it coincides with a policy change, that upgrades from premium economy to business class are no longer available on Air France (at least for now).
However that alone doesn’t make my theory correct. I haven’t had time yet to systematically collect the data to get beyond conjecture. But I at least wanted to lay out a path to do so.
If my theory is correct that Delta turned off the spigot of space, because they didn’t want to pay for it (the same way that they did in 2005 with a summer-long blackout), then the change in space should only affect Delta.
Other Air France partners should continue to have access to the same seats they were seeing last week.
I did ring up Alaska Airlines earlier in the evening. They weren’t seeing all of the space that I could find on the AirFrance.us website. But they were finding space, seats that Delta could not book.
None of which is truly dispositive, you don’t get access to transparent online inventory with Alaska and I spoke to only one agent, I’ve had Alaska agents fail to see availability that I knew existed (hence: hang up, call back).
What would be a useful test is to check award space for Air France business class award space through Korean Airlines, perhaps, and Alitalia.
- If nobody has access to the seats, then it’s something on the Air France side.
- If everyone but Delta has access to the seats, then it’s something on the Delta side.
Either way I expect the situation to be temporary. If it’s a Delta issue, they’ve overspent their budget, things will loosen up (at least somewhat) in the future. If it’s an Air France issue, clearly they do not intend to stop all of their partners from booking any business class award space. Whatever is causing or motivating the issue will be temporary.
Regardless of fault, it’s customers who lose, so the airlines need to figure this out, quickly.