I really didn’t think that Delta could make their Skypesos program any worse or less friendly than it already is. But they’ve found a way.
In August they are adding minimum stay requirements for award tickets booked at the usual standard (‘low’ in Delta parlance) mileage price within 21 days of departure.
Minimum Stay (Effective in August 2010)
A minimum of a Friday or Saturday night stay will be required for Award tickets booked within 21 days from departure. Minimum stay will not apply to the following:
•Awards booked by Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members
•Awards booked by Delta Reserve, Platinum and Gold primary cardmembers
•Awards priced at mid or high tier levels
Continental did away with Saturday night stay requirements. It’s not something that United or American have. It was long a feature of the Northwest program, since acquired by Delta.
I remember Randy Petersen telling me a story when I attended the Freddie Awards in Colorado Springs in April, 2003. He said that he had been speaking to United and knew they were about to roll out minimum stays, he suggested that Northwest hold back on a similar announced. United went first, generated massive customer outrage, and pulled back the rule. Northwest, which moved after United, flew somewhat under the radar and their change stuck. It’s possible I have this slightly off, but that’s how I recall the narrative.
Granted now that Delta is resurrecting this rule they’re doing it only on awards booked within 3 weeks of travel. And they’re exempting their co-branded credit card holders, another indication that mileage sales to banks really drive these programs. They’re also exempting mid- and top-tier elites. Like with their introduction of Sky Priority benefits (which weren’t really new at all), Delta doesn’t show much love for their Silver Medallions.
Ultimately this is one more way in which Delta Skymiles are worth even less than before. Hard to imagine, but they keep coming up with new ways to devalue the currency.
(Hat tip to @wchrisburcham.)