Jeff Robertson of Delta’s Skymiles program had this to say on Flyertalk about the coming introduction of three-tiered award pricing in the near future:
We are finalizing all of the technology testing right now around the new award structure, and although we’ve had a few hiccups, it appears to be on target for an early September soft-launch.
We also intend to announce the new award structure and award levels in the next 10-14 days, which will include three different levels based on availability. The first lowest level will be similar to the Saver awards today, the second tier will be expanded availability (varies by market but generally around 50% of all available seats systemwide), and a last seat availability level that goes back to “last seat on the plane.”
American, United, Continental and Alaska have all recently announced some award level increases, which we did integrate into the new award structure. We did not however make any adjustments to the D48 – 25K mile award level. Bottom line, there are a couple saver level increases, however the new expanded availability tier is always lower than SkyChoice today, and the new last seat levels are almost always higher than SkyChoice today.
Each award level is combinable, and with availability on a flight by flight basis on our website, we move the pricing of an award seat a lot closer to the pricing of a revenue seat. What we anticipate will happen, is that far less “choice” seats will be taken and far more “expanded” tier 2 seats will be taken in combination with saver seats. Moving forward, the only people who should really be using “choice” are those who plan last minute when the flights are full, or who are trying to find awards seats during the most peak special events (e.g. Super Bowl).
(Additional linebreaks mine for readability.)
So we get 3 award tiers, they’re coming soon, and we get award chart price increases at the same time. Stay tuned…