Delta Air Lines Changes the Rules of the Game

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So those that know me, know I am big fan of Delta Airlines.  This is the airline I have flown more than any other and I’ve been an elite member of their frequent flier program and the Northwest Airlines program that preceded it for over 13 years.  Delta has been in the news lately because of the changes that will take place next year in their frequent flier program (Skymiles). Delta will be the first of the big three US airlines to convert to a revenue based program where miles earned will no longer be tied to how far you fly.  I’ve had some time to digest the news and for the most part the news is not good.

As a customer of Delta,  I am exactly the kind of customer that Delta does not want.  I fly on cheap airfares and do my best to get upgraded to First class on their flights.  I knew this was coming as rumors of this have been out there for several years.  Now that the changes are announced, I can make some decision on what I will do.

2014 will be the last year for mileage runs on Delta.

So that being said I might still go out with a bang.  One of the goals I wanted to reach on Delta was flying One million miles.  I’m currently at 883,000.  So there is still a little while to go. While the opportunity is still available I may choose to do more mileage runs on Delta.  I’m actually contemplating going for their top level this year (Diamond) which would require 125,000 miles of flying.

There is a slim Chance of a Silver Lining

So I’ve been slowly moving away from Delta well before this all happened, mainly because I recognize that Delta’s frequent flier miles are less valuable than miles from its competitors. One possibly positive effect of the changes announced is that the miles you earn may become more valuable.  I’m currently holding onto about 330,000 delta miles and I will probably continue to  hold on to them until next year.  I am holding so many miles because, they are really hard to use for tickets that require the lowest miles and for international trips.   Delta already raised the amount of miles your need to redeem a ticket earlier in the year.  Hopefully the changes announced will reduce the supply of miles and will result in the availability of more free tickets.

So do I hate Delta now?

Not really.  I know it seems that Delta has forsaken me.  But Delta is not a friend or a family member.  I like flying Delta because their planes are on-time and staff do a good job and are happy.  Delta does these two things much better than United or American.  The also have really good management making hard decision like this one about their frequent flier program.  They have made a business decision to close a loophole I have exploited for a very long time.  I’m sad I will soon not be doing any more mileage runs on Delta, but apparently this was business that they no longer want.  Game over.

-TK

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