The above photo is a “guess” from Inside Flyer here on boarding area (or leaked info) about what we will see in 2015. The price pulled is for international round trip travel in coach.
That is all well and good but not that much information. The above is the Delta chart ONE WAY with the same idea with red lines for the awards between the low-med-high award making our 1,2,3,4&5. So, for example, one way domestic coach should be:
1 – 12,500
2 – 16,250
3 – 20,000
4 – 25,000
5 – 30,000
Then for a round trip just take them 2x and you get a number. OK but the REAL question is how will Delta determine what price goes where. This, I think, is very simple too given the love of all things revenue based as the point to consider (boy my post from 2 years ago about EOS has become a popular read again).
But just what do I mean. The group 1-5 could be simply broken down by the price of the cabin and seat open at any given time. This would make for a 100% every seat open and a fluid quick way to change the points needed for any seat on the plane. For example, look at this one way flight from DTW-LAX:
Now again this is just a simple scenario but it shows the concept of what we could see. The lowest “25,000” point round trip is open if there are seats at this price level. If not, since there are only 2 seats open, and you want to book 3, then you go to level 2 to be able to pay for this award and on and on as each seat is sold either cash or with points (so we would still have to search for just 1 seat at a time like now to spend the least points)
The funny thing about this is it could turn 180* the notion of not booking as far out as you can as when a flight first loads into the system all the seat are open. Thus, if my guess is right, the most seats will at that point be open at the lowest rate and go up as more and more book.
From a revenue side, Delta can 100% control the number of seats at levels 1-5 by price and fare class and from a marketing standpoint say and show every seat is wide open and the point price is fair and a great value compared to buying the same seat (but “price” controlled). This will be especially useful around say holiday travel dates. They can brag that every seat is open around the holidays but as we know these seats sell fast so the points seats will very quickly rise to the level of open seats likely in the 4 & 5 level.
The good and bad side for business class award travel would be this – low level seats would still be available. Partners would not be an issue, just the price. If partners jump the price, you jump to 2, 3 etc.. Peak summer times and best travel days cost more now; same thing would go for points. Travel on off days etc. you could score a better award price.
Is this what is going to happen? It could be and it is a realistic guess. The other reason I say this is say a fare war starts. Say Delta offers DTW-LAX for $99 each way. This still loads lots of seats in at 12,500 each way. They can then reward those with a Delta AMEX to “Pay with Miles” that is buying a ticket with miles at 1 cent each and they can save a few miles buying this “deal” vs. the wide open redemption at low level 1 award.
Perhaps a better way than price is fare class but still similar to what I have outlined with price (not just what I have above but the basic idea). This could be so much cleaner than prices and simpler to do. Plus this addresses some other issues in a simple way as well.
What issues? It is well established that the higher up the medallion “food chain” you go the more availability you will have to low level seats. How does Delta do this? I am not sure but the difference between logging in as a Diamond compared to logging in as my wife as Gold or not logged in looking for seats is often a bunch! Same goes for those with the Delta CO-branded AMEX cards. Sometime those flyers will get more access to low level seats! How can this be implemented in the new Skymiles2015?
The computer would look at the request say from a silver medallion, they, since they are not really loved “that much” by Delta, only get a drop of one fare class “letter”. A Gold, maybe 2 or 3 and so on up the chart. The result could be a drop into the lower bucket of award space or it could NOT drop you depending on what fares classes they stick in each group of 1,2,3,4 or 5. As to AMEX, if you have the card, all those could get a +1 bump down the fare class chain for lower award space. This could be so simple to do that even the Delta IT department could use an “if then” statement to make this work (yeah I took “basic” back in school in the 80’s).
One up side for Delta but down side for us would be if say a medallion cancels an award. Delta could all of a sudden sell that lower price or fare class seat that has just opened up at the lowest price it came from. So, if we cancel say a group 1 or 2 award seat the rest of us who could want that would be competing, not just against other medallions, but against the rest of the flying world!
Again, I have no idea if any of this is on point. I think these could make a nice “bell curve” of what seats are open at what level of redemption. But one thing we need to keep in our heads, unless things change, each and every move Delta will ever make will be driven by the cost to the company’s bottom line in every choice and what it means to you or me is a very distant 2nd place! – René