Randy Petersen and I have an ongoing disagreement over whether it’s reasonable for American Airlines and Southwest to block Award Wallet from helping members track their accounts. (Randy even devoted his September editorial in Inside Flyer to refuting my arguments.)
See, I believe that making it less convenient for members to track their account balances doesn’t help a program, it makes those members less engaged and ultimately less profitable. And I don’t believe excuses over security, since having more engaged members seeing changes in their balances each day is the best way to notice quickly when an account has been compromised.
But now that Delta has jumped on the bandwagon and blocked Award Wallet as well, it may be a step too far.
Delta miles are already the least valuable among major US frequent flyer programs. Making Skypesos even less convenient for members isn’t helpful to the program.
And now Randy seems to be coming around a little bit, his October editorial chides Delta’s tactics.
Delta SkyMiles hired either a second-year law student or a pre-law intern to draft up their cease and desist letters. Not trying to be too cute, but stating the reason for the cease and desist as being, “This activity directly affects the stability and performance of Delta’s information technology systems,” is simply out-of-touch, unrealistic and a joke. Are they saying that if members should look up their account themselves it doesn’t do the same? What we are talking about is simple access to a member’s account, which the member has approved of as a limited power-of-attorney, for the member’s convenience. Frequent flyers are busy people. They share many loyalties in travel to Delta and their partners such as hotel and car rental companies. I can defend the thought that there are security concerns and similar concerns with the data, but sorry Delta SkyMiles, you are on your own with this one. And really, who could not have seen this move from Delta coming? In a Wall Street Journal article from last October, a Delta representative was quoted as saying, “We do not support these sites as they do not adequately protect the customer and tend to cause a great deal of confusion.” Confusion? I guess. We don’t know if Delta’s information technology systems can handle their members’ interests in their account balances. Delta, either refuse to pay the legal bill for the cease and desist letters you authorized or don’t invite them to your company Christmas party this year for making you look … not so good.
..And Delta, please get your story straight … and find new outside legal counsel.
And now even Randy is saying that the programs need to find a way to work with sites like Award Wallet, resolving any true security concerns that they have.
For some suggestions on how they might do that, see previous coverage from TechCrunch. And there I mean creation of an API, not the “suggestion to the airlines about building brand loyalty: stop sucking so much.”
Airlines, you’re taking things too far here, and losing one of your staunchest defenders. Time to take note!