Update: Since I posted commenters have found a few routes where there’s some inventory. The first several I tried where I found some turned out to be on Alaska Airlines routes (of course) but there are some Delta routes out there still showing award space within 3 weeks fo travel. Every route I tried at first was consistent, but I didn’t try every route! Something is definitely afoot here and it turns out that it’s been going on for at least a week. Very different inventory philosophy for releasing award space.
On Friday (you always dump bad news on Fridays), Delta eliminated their award charts — just pulled them off the website — without telling anyone. When asked they said that members now get all they need to know from the award calendar.
Instead of telling you in advance what their price list is, Delta will just tell you what a given flight is going to cost when you go to book it.
To me this is one of the worst things an airline frequent flyer program has ever done. Not only does it take away the goal-oriented nature of a program (what awards are possible and what might they cost me?) but it prevents you from appealing when an award is mispriced (something Delta’s IT does frequently in my experience) and it means they don’t have to ever announce devaluations.
The suggestion that hidden devaluations were in the cards was purely hypothetical — and while this one isn’t strictly related to the removal of award charts, even I’m surprised to see that Delta has apparently already implemented one: a major, secret, unannounced devaluation.
Nothing new for Delta, perhaps, but this one will affect a lot of members.
Per Cranky Flier, it seems that Delta no longer offers awards at the lowest saver level within 3 weeks of travel.
For Los Angeles – San Francisco you don’t see saver award space until more than 3 weeks out:
But then of course it’s available most days:
It’s the same pattern for Los Angeles – Las Vegas.
And indeed more than 3 weeks out you can generally find saver awards.
Cranky when through a bunch of routes like Atlanta – Savannah, Seattle – Spokane, New York JFK – Syracuse, New York JFK – Buffalo, Salt Lake City – Denver, and Detroit – State College and finds the same thing. He declares,
The news just gets worse over there.
Delta may have a fantastic operation and a good onboard experience, but it is quickly establishing itself as the airline that has an absolute disdain for transparency. While I like flying the airline, actions like these certainly make me think twice when I look to buy tickets. Delta has earned itself another Cranky Jackass Award with these latest moves.
This is a huge change in strategy for Delta, who used to make the best award space available close to departure (which is what was so frustrating about their unique rule of no changes within 72 hours of travel — that’s often when flights would get cheaper, and before the rule you could convert a higher priced award ticket down to the lowest priced one and save miles).
Just like removing all information about Delta fares from Expertflyer, the airline has moved to eliminate transparency and keep members from having the tools or information to be well-informed customers. Their strategy seems to be that a good customer is an ignorant one.
I can only say that given recent moves, expect more unannounced changes, expect those changes to be negative, and expect Delta to tell you that you don’t need information and that changes are for your own good — or at least a part of rewarding their best customers.