Yesterday ThePointsGuy (TPG) Brian Kelly had a post about a new Delta Air Lines test program you can read more about HERE. I also reached out to Delta CORP about this program and was told:
“We are testing an Upgrade with Miles option to offer customers the ability to redeem miles for upgrades in select markets on Delta.com. All of the SkyMiles accrual rules apply as currently described on Delta.com.” – Delta CORP
Now that sounds very fishy to me since, as we all know, the use of any Skymiles to pay for a ticket will VOID your chance to earn any Skymiles or MQM’s. And, if we look at the internet “way back machine” we will see this was the wording on Delta.com very clearly.
“Pay with Miles tickets booked in First or Business Class are eligible for mileage accrual, Medallion Qualification Segments, and Medallion Qualification Miles.” – Delta.com
This alone is shocking and major news. We now must all run the numbers to see if it is worth spending Skymiles to book an award ticket, OR, to use them to pay for a ticket with Pay With Miles, thanks to our Delta AMEX card that you need to have to do this in the first place, and then be able to EARN Skymiles and MQM’s for a trip we paid for WITH Skymiles. It makes the head spin!
Now back to the test upgrade program. With this, a flyer can earn HUGE class of service bonus Skymiles and MQM’s. Notice what TPG said yesterday in his post:
“I wanted to test out some the routes where this was offered, so I randomly checked Atlanta-Cincinnati on April 12. The lowest coach fare was $262 for this one-way flight, and Delta was offering upgrades for either $59 or 5,900 miles. This route can be rough for complimentary Medallion upgrades, but for 5,900 miles I could confirm the upgrade at booking.” – from TPG
Well DUH! And think about this. Say your employer is willing to reimburse you for ONLY a coach class ticket; ANY coach class ticket as long as it is coach. You can sometimes find a full “Y” class ticket for almost the same price as first class. But, your employer will ONLY let you buy coach. No problem, you burn a few Skymiles, ride up front, and earn a bunch more Skymiles and MQM’s on top of that. Easy peasy!
Oh, but one thing, you can do this as a general Skymiles member and you have just taken a “free” upgrade away from a medallion member. Think how many times this will happen each and every day. Now, think about the heavy medallion routes. Can you see a situation where when you are NOT buying an upgrade with Skymiles just about squashes any possible chance for an upgrade?
Notice what else TPG had to say:
“The bottom line is that Delta is trying to sell more upgrades, whether with miles or money, instead of upgrading elites. Over time I expect Medallion upgrade percentages to drop as less seats become available for last minute complimentary upgrades. United has also been aggressively marketing upgrades and I know many elites have been disenfranchised by the process, but I’m curious how much business Delta and United have lost as a result. I’d bet less than the amount of revenue they are bringing in- that’s what I suspect the hacking of elite upgrades will continue as airlines seek to squeeze as much revenue from paid upgrades. Great news for shareholders- frequent flyers? Not so much.” – from TPG
I agree with most of this. I am about as PRO Delta as any blogger in the blogosphere but as of late, it is getting very hard. The MQD move, while unpopular, will, I feel, have the positive affect of opening up some 1st class seats as so many either jump ship and go over to AA or UA or drop down from DM to PM or lower and on down the chain. This, will have the exact opposite effect if it comes into play fleet wide as it is being tested now.
On top of all of this, with many more seats being sold and upgraded with points, just how many less business class seats will this make available for Skymiles redemption at low, medium or high level? I just don’t see this policy resulting in an increase of award seats being opened up by Delta.
This one is a hard one. There will be fliers who are just over the top in love with this one and it will have an impact for Delta as I think many will be happy to burn Skymiles for this perk. But for others, the chance for an upgrade will be even lower than it is now. So what do you think. Do you like this idea? Is it one more potential “enhancement” you love or hate? Comment below please! – René
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