I’m late to the party on Delta news, but everyone else is doing my job for me this week.
Then yesterday came word that Delta has, in fact, ended those close-in ticketing fees. These are the annoying surcharges for booking award tickets within three weeks of travel, and had been on an escalating scale — up to $150 for redeeming awards within three days of departure. Years ago these were known as ‘expedite’ fees since the airlines had to process tickets quickly, but in a digital world the truth was much clearer — both a revenue opportunity and a disincentive to last minute bookings at a time that revenue fares were higher.
Of course, Delta follows in the footsteps of United, which eliminated those same fees last summer.
What’s more, Delta is going back to fee-free award changes for Platinum Medallions, something United also offers to their 1K members and higher. Perhaps Delta now sees United leapfrogging them as the biggest airline and they realize they have to look to their betters as a model? They took away this benefit but they’re bringing it back..
Meanwhile Scott McCartney reports that Delta has begun reporting award redemption statistics to the SEC. But the data isn’t really very telling.
Scott notes that Delta “reported that its customers redeemed 230 billion miles in the SkyMiles program last year for more than 11 million awards.” That’s 31% more miles than were redeemed via American AAdvantage, and indeed “Delta said awards amounted to 8.5% of revenue passenger miles.” That’s a respectable percentage.
Does this suggest Delta is better for redemption than previously thought? Fortunately, most would be fooled but Scott is not:
The numbers do suggest that Delta customers may be paying higher prices in miles for awards.Yup, Delta members redeem a whole lot more miles in order for Delta to fill an average number of seats with award passengers. That is actually the most telling and damning statistic.