A New Easy Business Class Award to Asia, Hackers Hit American, and Where Presidential Candidates Stay

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • United will again allow planes to taxi while waiting for takeoff weights. Other airlines do it, United used to do it, now they won’t delay at the gate until receiving final computer calculations anymore.

  • Philippine Airlines plans to launch Los Angeles – Cebu service three times weekly. (HT: Reid F.) Philippine Airlines flights are the business class awards to Asia you can always get.

    They’re partners with ANA (Amex transfer partner, call to book and try to find an agent familiar with it) and with Etihad (Citi transfer partner, has a stake in the airline). But I haven’t heard anything about replacing business class seats on their Airbus A340s, which will operate the route — I seem to recall they aren’t even angled flat but old-style recliner business seats!

  • Chinese Hackers Hit American, Sabre

  • Delta loves to tell its own story, but frequent flyers don’t believe all they hear. The argument is that for all of the amazing progress Delta has made as an airline, their frequent flyer program undermines the brand and reputation.

    The influential blogger Gary Leff, best-known for coining the dismissive sobriquet “SkyPesos” for SkyMiles, has relentlessly covered Delta’s shenanigans.

    Leff’s critiques caught the eye of Ron Lieber, the savvy personal-finance columnist for The New York Times. His blast at Delta went viral, even earning Delta a derisive retweet from CNN correspondent and frequent flyer Jake Tapper.

    Does bad press about one awful component of an otherwise well-run airline impact the carrier’s reputation and ability to become the “investment-grade” company Anderson so wants Delta to be? A half-dozen branding experts I consulted in recent days think so. More telling, five responded with some variation of “awful frequent flyer program” when I asked them for the first thing they thought of when they considered Delta.

  • The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel was ground zero for Republican candidates in their primary debate

  • Delta’s new inflight safety video:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I don’t care if you coined the phrase or not. Just keep hammering them. I am glad to read it may have some impact. They have been the only game in town where I live for years. I now travel an extra 1 1/2 hrs out of my way to avoid them solely because of their frequent flyer program.

  2. I just love and laugh whenever you are being firm with Delta. I love to fly them but hate to collect their miles. So your “bad mouth” is a therapy for me. Pls keep it coming.

  3. Sometime before December 2009, some of us on FT critical of SkyMiles’ customer-unfriendly changes were making efforts on and off FT to come up with a nickname for SkyMiles that would better indicate the value of the program. Skypesos was one of the words/phrases that came about, but I had ruled it out due to the fact that the Mexican peso had held
    up relatively well against the USD, due to the relatively frothy oil prices during the GW Bush years. Gleff was the first to use it consistently and repeatedly in public to make it a meme. I am less sure that he was the first to mention the term to me, as I had references to the Delta peso from before 2009.

  4. Gary,

    You know what? Delta might not win the “battle” in the long run. Airline operational statistics are something that only the nerds can cite off the top of their head. What was DL’s on time performance rate, their completion rate, and how does it compare to their competitors? Easy numbers to get, but numbers few people care about. They only care about “their” route. All they know is that X carrier made them late. Also, it’s much harder to compare performance on “your” route(s) against multiple carriers.

    But what people remember is that when they went to redeem their miles, they 1) Couldn’t, or 2) It cost how much??????

    DL is making a risky move by sacrificing their FF program. Because UA and AA still have decent ones, DL is actually my last choice of carrier.

  5. GUWonder-

    I have a lot of respect for you on FT. Thanks for speaking the truth; I had doubted Leff had created the term but rather found an opportunistic way to use it.


  6. @GU Wonder – interesting to see “Delta Pesos” I don’t doubt others used that term as well, I’ve never found an instance of Sky pesos or Skypesos that predates my own, but not sure it matters either way. Point is that it’s a currency whose value is ‘less than par’ i.e. worth less than 1:1 to other major currencies. That was always the point 😉

  7. John,

    As the Argentine peso is less rooted in popular American culture than the Mexican peso, I would agree that the SkyPeso reference is an insult to the Mexican peso. 😀

    The Argentine peso, well that is another story, and the managers of DL SkyMiles remind me of beloved Argentina with its crooked political class mucking things up for those whose are stuck with more Argentine pesos than they want.

  8. American is not seeing any type of compromise of their IT systems by Chinese hackers. The news is wrong.

  9. I’m the one you coined the phrase “Mark, didn’t you coin the phrase ‘Didn’t you coin the term SkyPesos?’ “

  10. Tyler,

    Thanks for the kind words. And those are the kind of words which I would apply to the creator of this blog too.I have a lot of respect for the creator of this blog, and I have no doubt that he deserves to be credited for SkyPesos’s widespread public use if not also its creation. In the end it really doesn’t matter.

    Except for his being hooked to carrying the AEI party line on VFTW from time to time and his slow-miles-and-points-news-day flirtations with neo-con appeals, I most commonly find myself in agreement with his take on issues and only come around here often because I am a fan of his contributions to the subject matters of interest to me.

    He is a real credit to the miles and points community, and I owe him a debt of gratitude too for putting himself out there, including on the matter of what DL has been doing to its SkyMiles customers. Without the SkyPesos meme that gleff has been pushing forward, the SkyMiles brand would be stronger than it deserves to be.

    We’re all in this boat together, even if not all of us are going to make money from this blog. 😀

  11. As a brief comment to your distribution of “final-load-sheet” being delivered by the ACARS system, I would not feel to comfy on all flights…
    Certain airports where I have been working, have been quite on the slippery side upon accepting luggage, and all not entered into the DCS (Departure Control System), this could mean up to 2K kilos of luggage not been registered, and could of course impact the flight W&B issues.

  12. @GUWonder For avoidance of doubt I believe this is the very first time anyone has every (very much mistakenly) referred to me as a neocon. I did once attend an AEI annual dinner (2002 I think), also known in conservative circles as ‘the prom’. I never went back. I considered it among the worst events I’ve attended. Everyone drank during the reception, there was wine on the table at dinner, Norm Podhoretz went on for 55 minutes. Then the event concluded. Then dinner was served. It was pretty insufferable.

    In any case, I very much believe in personal liberty, economic liberty, and international peace. In this third dimension I am the diametric opposite of a neocon. I do not however follow any ‘party lines’ as much as I share my thoughts on topics of the day here on my blog.

    Thank you for the other kind words. And as for Skypesos, as far as I know I’m the first to have used that but my opinions in all things rest on the backs of others with whom I’ve had the pleasure to have thoughtful exchanges over the years.

  13. I think “Skypesos” came to be while the Borg was carving up the remanents of our beloved NWA (RIP) I believe GUWonder was one of the most versiferous voices on FT in regard to the fleecing – thanks to Gary for repeating the mantra over and over! It resounds with the MANY Flyers I know at work… No matter who coined the phrase, it still rings loud and true!

  14. @Thezipper Let’s not muddy things though. Someone coined ‘delta pesos’ it sounds like, and as a purely factual matter I originated ‘skypesos’. I don’t think I even knew what I had done when I did.

  15. @Thezipper in fact, this may remind you of the progeny of the term… it’s the reason you got inquiries from the former NW forum lurker about me…

  16. The reason Sabre is a target of state-level hackers is that so much personal data is contained within PNRs. Think DOB, passport numbers, credit card numbers (frequently in plaintext).

    This is just another “big data” source that the Chinese can cross reference with the OPM leak and collect intelligence on Americans. And don’t think the NSA doesn’t currently do the same.

  17. @GUWonder opines: “He is a real credit to the miles and points community, and I owe him a debt of gratitude too for putting himself out there”.


    @all — does anyone really credit DL flights to SkyPesos when there is a perfectly good, even excellent choice such as AS? I guess if you’re hub-captives, you need the status for upgrades but I cannot fathom crediting my “loyalty” to a dysfunctional disloyalty program such as SkyPesos…

  18. Gary,

    I didn’t call you a neo-con. I think we know each other better than that. [

    I have heard the AEI story before. AEI is backed by the same Koch dudes as the ones backing the Mercatus Center at GMU, right? By the way, I’ve been attending some AEI events too; in some cases back from before you or I were even of the age of consent in DC, let alone the legal drinking age,]

    Rather I said something about VFTW blog topics on slow-news days sometimes including a flirtation with neo-con appeals. It helps keep the place lively.

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