Delta Skymiles — already the least generous major airline frequent flyer program in the U.S. — has deservedly earned the nickname Skypesos. Nonetheless, the program leadership has announced that they believe the program is too rewarding today — notwithstanding that they already announced that they were making it less rewarding for travel June 1 oneward. (Delta announced award chart changes effective immediately, for travel beginning in June, back in mid-August.)
Sure, the changes went into effect right away, but only for travel in summer 2014. The clear implication of announcing changes for travel beginning June 1 was that travel up until June 1 could be booked at the ‘old’ rate.
And by setting the travel date about 9 months out, that meant that members could still earn miles and redeem them at the existing lower price, as long as their travel was done before June 1.
So three months later, after members perhaps even accelerated their earning to make the most of points before the change, Delta has announced changes again — an interim higher-priced award chart for travel between February 1 and May 31.
Here are a few of the changes:
- Domestic saver first class goes from 45,000 to 50,000 miles; 60,000 to 65,000 if internationally-configured
- Coach Hawaii awards go from 40,000 to 45,000 miles; first class from 75,000 to 80,000 (85,000 to 90,000 when internationally configured)
- Coach Southeast Asia awards go from 80,000 to 85,000 miles; business class from 120,000 to 140,000
- Coach Middle East awards go from 80,000 to 85,000 miles.
These are just the ‘saver’ increases, medium and high level awards (cough — standard or peak) go up in some cases too.
My problem with this is two-fold:
- This was done with no notice.
- This was done in direct contravention of the message they sent in August when they announced price increases for travel starting in June.
That, to me, makes Delta Skymiles’ leadership disingenuous and untrustworthy. I do not usually ascribe ill motives to those I disagree with, but I have to be honest with this: I do not trust them one bit.
We already knew we could not trust what Skymiles leadership said about their program, and what changes meant. We were assured that ‘high’ award pricing would only happen during extreme demand dates like the Superbowl. It turns out it is common.
And here they just couldn’t wait to start charging their members more for awards. Apparently their broken pricing engine isn’t already stealing enough miles from their members by mispricing awards. (Although here’s how to price awards properly and the best strategic uses of their points.)
Any program that respects its members gives them advance notice of these sorts of changes. But Delta has concocted the bizarre excuse that they are legally precluded from giving their members advance notice of changes to their award chart (so presumably they believe that United’s devaluation, announced last Friday but not going into effect until February, was so customer-friendly as to be illegal).
Lucky writes, “I think that anyone that cared about the value of their miles likely left Delta a long time ago” and that’s pretty much right — both because the miles are worth less than in other programs and because the people running the program are, in my view, completely untrustworthy.