When Delta removed all the award charts from their website without any notice (indeed, just weeks after they went into effect and less than 3 months since some were even posted), their initial story was that they had improved website award search enough that they were no longer needed.
[W]e did remove Award charts today. Delta’s expanded search capabilities and calendar at delta.com offer more flexible and accurate view of Award prices.
Of course, that was disingenuous at best.
- The website’s award pricing was still very broken
- It still doesn’t support many of Delta’s airline partners
- There’s no mutual exclusivity here, having a functional award booking site and having an award chart go perfectly well hand in hand. (Cf. United Airlines, Aeroplan, ANA, British Airways to name a few.)
Now — after changing terms and conditions of the program without notice — Delta changes its story. The new reason for pulling the award charts?
Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta, downplays the impact. He says that shopping for a reward flight will simply be like buying a regular ticket — plug in the days you want to travel and see how much it will cost.
This too is disingenuous in the extreme.
- There is a ‘published’ value of cash. Delta doesn’t tell you anywhere how much your miles are worth towards paid airfare.
- You can use cash equally with Delta or any other airline (or to buy anything you wish). You can only use delta’s proprietary currency in whatever manner Delta proscribes.
- Forget award tickets for a moment, how much do upgrades cost?
Frequent flyer miles are not like cash. If you try to turn them into cash, you create a poor substitute. And you undermine the very thing that makes them special to members.
Miles aren’t mere rebates. They hold the promise of going places, of experiencing things, in a way that you wouldn’t if you were spending cash. They capture our imagination.
If they’re just going to be airline funny money, then the alternative of federal reserve notes is clearly superior. There’s no reason to accrue points, say, through a co-brand American Express card (they’re really throwing American Express under the bus after tricking them into a $2 billion commitment). There’s no reason to chase the points. Sure, by all means, join the program and enter your number and take the points because it’s better than not taking the points. Just like you’ll get your local sandwich shop to punch your ticket and get every 10th sub free. But there’s little reaosn to decide what to eat because of a punch card (not least of which because all the other restaurants have better programs).