9 Responses

  1. Oliver
    Oliver at |

    “The cash rate on that ticket is just over $8000 r/t right now, suggesting a redemption value of 1 cent per point. A cash-back card can beat that rate, but the reward also isn’t always at 375k points nor is the fare always $8000.”

    Excellent point to highlight and consider.

  2. Bill
    Bill at |

    For most American consumers/travelers, award travel is done in Economy. For these Americans, the fact of exorbitant rates for premium class, especially longhaul, awards is not likely a big factor. So DL can play this game with less slippage in its loyalty than many herein may otherwise assume.

    For those of us who aspire to travel longhaul in premium classes, however, the DL approach is justification for abandoning DL altogether–unless you’re living by a DL hub and trapped into only or largely flying DL as a result. I thankfully live near SNA/LAX, so I’m not trapped…and I avoid DL like the plague unless I have a trip to a DL hub city that permits me the nonstop flight.

    I continue to earn points/miles using credit cards/spending that works with UA and AA and avoid all programs/credit cards that earn only DL Skymiles. I just dumped almost all of my AA miles on Business Class awards to Tahiti on TN and First Class LAX-MIA on AA in their 772s–since I expect the AA program to devalue in the coming months once the AA-US merger is completed or near completion. But that was a lot of value for those AA miles. There’s nothing even remotely comparable to that value with DL.

    Say what you want, but I find UA and AA to be quite comparable to DL in flight experience based on the routes I fly from SNA/LAX. And I find UA and AA to be far superior to DL in terms of route maps and award availability/value for where I want to go from SNA/LAX. To me, there is no question that UA and AA are the ways for me to go. DL is for suckers.

  3. Layne
    Layne at |

    I think the reality is that Delta’s High Value Customers, as they refer to them, are not telling DL that outsized premium class redemptions drive their loyalty. Clearly the airline feels it is being overly generous. Otherwise why would it incur the expense to radically reshape a profitable loyalty program?

    We have long read and known that the heaviest spenders and business travelers value upgrades and other perks of loyalty over air redemptions. And Seth’s point about the preponderance of domestic, low value awards seems to indicate the points and miles insiders’ obsession with cheap premium class redemptions is a minority position.

    We may have sensible arguments for why DL should not gut our favorite awards, but most of us are not customers the airline cares that much about. To them the risk is alienating high spenders and although they have devalued them modestly, they have been savvy about obscuring that fact.

    United may have said frequent flyers are over entitled, but Delta has done far more to manifest that belief. They are operating in a competitive landscape, loyalty-wise, and they seem to be winning even though competitors offer better award redemptions and more generous loyalty perks. Expect more of the same.

  4. carl
    carl at |

    Who benefits from the changes?

    Ultimately this weakens DL’s credit cards as there are certainly better places to put your spend than Skymiles. Will customers figure that out?

  5. D-Train
    D-Train at |

    @Bill I wouldn’t say suckers. I get really good (north of .02/mile) value out of domestic redemptions on Delta that has a nonstop on what is a very expensive flight to visit family that I take with the mrs. about 3x times a year. I’ve always found good value in that, I use Delta as saving me real $$$ on trips I would be out of pocket several grand per year, as there are really no direct route or quality alternatives.

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