First up, the good news: This isn’t likely to affect most folks on most tickets.
Now for the bad news: Effective September 1, 2012 Delta is slashing earning rates on a number of fare classes for tickets sold as "unpublished fares." Unpublished fares refer to tickets sold through certain 3rd party outlets but should not affect tickets booked through regular OTAs like Expedia or Orbitz. Some examples Delta provides of what unpublished fares might be include:
- Student fares
- Consolidator fares
- Flights included as part of a cruise package
- Discounted tour packages
- Group fares
Here’s what the new earning chart looks like for these fares:
These new rates will not apply to fares purchased in the Asia/Pacific region.
There are two areas where I think the numbers are more significant than not. The first is consolidator fares. Then again, that consolidator fares earn anything at all is somewhat surprising as historically that’s been a mixed bag depending on carrier. The second one which is somewhat concerning is the "Discounted tour packages" category.
It is not entirely clear what will be included in that designation but often times the OTAs will sell vacation packages including air+hotel or air+car at a decent discount. The way I’m reading it those fares would now be included in this new earnings scheme. That means severely discounted earning rates. Not good at all.
Delta isn’t alone in restricting earning rates on unpublished fares, though the broad classification of unpublished might be more significant than of other carriers. United Airlines, for example, precludes earning on "Unpublished fares, such as priceline.com and Hotwire." Consolidator or group fares are not specifically excluded by name. American Airlines says no earning on "unpublished fare tickets, including consolidator fares."
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