Yes, there really are some winners in there. And it isn’t just the people who are buying premium cabin fares. At least not based on fares available today.
A lot of people have theories on who will win and who will lose with Delta‘s revenue-based earnings scheme. I have some as well. But I figured that some objective data might not be such a horrible thing to look at with all the talking going on. After all, some real numbers might be useful, right? So I spent some time gathering real data. And, as expected, there will be winners and losers with the new scheme.
I based this first round of analysis on 15 routes. It is, undoubtedly, a biased selection, but it is biased based on routes which are very commonly flown in the USA, routes where Delta is carrying lots of passengers and the routes which are popular based on one end or the other’s DoT data (see “assumptions” below). Some of these are routes I’ve flown as part of my own work life. Suffice it to say that apparently I got screwed back in the day.
The routes in this data set are:
Here’s the earning rates under the old program (round-trip travel, 100% earning rate):
And the comparing the “old” scheme to future rates based on current published fares. Green means it is better for the customer in terms of earning rates.
21-Day Advance Purchase
7-Day Advance Purchase
Trailing Twelve Months’ Median Delta Fare
So, what conclusions can be drawn from the data? I’m going with the theory that there are going to be more than a few folks very, very, very happy with the new earning rates. And these just so happen to be the same folks who generate the lion’s share of Delta’s revenue. They are the truly HVCs.
It was clear when Delta announced the changes that they were looking at a different group of their customers to reward. Can’t really say that I blame them with numbers like these.
Some assumptions used to generate the data:
- It is Thursday afternoon right now. My Project Manager just told me where I need to be for my next work trip (Monday-Thursday). I’ve chosen three different levels of notice from the PM: leave on Monday (“walk-up”), leave next Monday (7-day advance purchase) and leave in 3 weeks (21-day advance purchase). For these searches I’m using 20 March 2014 search/purchase date so the travel dates are 24-27 March, 31 March – 3 April and 14-17 April.
- No flights leaving before 9am or after 9pm. I need my beauty sleep.
- Assume only 90% of the total fare counts towards the points earning. That might be a bit high or low in any specific case, but it should be a reasonable threshold and I don’t think it skews the results too much.
- Routes chosen were based on a mix of my prior life as a “road warrior” living in NYC and on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ collection of airport data, including the most popular routes from major airports.
- TTM fare data was taken from FlightAware.com (e.g. MSP-DEN). I have no idea how accurate it really is. I’m pretty sure it is based on the fare data airlines are required to file with the DoT on a monthly basis.
- I’m ignoring CC-based earning as that doesn’t really change.
- All of the fares I searched – even the “walk-up” rates – were 100% earning, not 150%. I suppose I could do another table for M fares at some point.
Also, of the 5 routes where the TTM was clearly favorable under the new charts I used to commute on two of them. And I know my fares on two others would have been decidedly better. That’s 5+ years of “road warrior” life where my earnings were worse. And that’s only some of the routes I bothered to check.
Got other city pairs you want to see compared? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll pull some data together. Or completely ignore it. You never really know with me, do you??
- Why did Delta bail on the big hotel bonus booking engines?
- Why the Delta SkyMiles changes don’t really matter
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.