Last night I spent an hour on the phone listening to Delta’s take on their frequent flyer program changes. Their spin on the media coverage is that they’re happy with the messaging — the stories aren’t all positive, but that their core message is getting out (“business travelers benefit”).
I don’t think that message is entirely correct. You have to average paying 20 cents per mile in airfare just to break even in miles earned across the entire year. And 20 cents is a lot (remember that the minimum average revenue to earn elite status is just 10 cents per mile — $2500 spending for 25,000 mile status, etc).
Since business travelers are also leisure travelers that’s a pretty high average fare, and business travelers won’t benefit until their average is above that.
What’s more we don’t even know that earning more points will be better under the new system, since we don’t know very much about what redemption is going to look like. Delta hasn’t told us yet, and they say they won’t until the 4th quarter. Each mile could well be worth less.
Despite Delta’s claim to me that they’re happy with the coverage, I don’t think I’ve seen a positive story about the impending frequent flyer program changes yet.
Here are a few pieces that I was involved in in some way and haven’t linked to previously (so excludes ABC’s World News Tonight and my interview with WTOP Radio), some are just a straight-up retelling of the facts (though perhaps a straight up retelling just sounds bad, to me).
- My ABC News Good Morning America appearance talking Delta frequent flyer mile changes. They just had me explain more of the ‘what’s going on’ than offering insight into winners/losers or how to play the game going forward.
- Big Changes to the Delta Skymiles Program: What You Need to Know – my contribution to Conde’ Nast.
- Yesterday’s post on Delta program changes was reprinted at Business Insider.
- Joe Brancatelli‘s column is on the Delta changes and he thinks it’s crazy that Delta shared details of their new planned mileage-earning structure but not its mileage-redemption structure. And he adds:
It’s not for nothing that Gary Leff, a well-known blogger who specializes in points and miles, called the program SkyPesos and the derisive moniker has stuck.
And as an added off-topic bonus, a couple of months later my TV interview on airline fees is still bouncing around and airing on local television stations around the country. Syndication can be better than network, I think! And NPR links to my post yesterday pointing out that despite articles about first class envy, the world trend is away from first class and towards business instead.