There will be no saving of the old Skymiles program. The Delta people that I immensely respect and praise at each chance I get, the hard working pilots, the fight attendants, the rest of the Delta people just don’t care about Skymiles2015 one bit (they should, but they just don’t understand the impact)! The company, no matter how much we beg or plead, just doesn’t care what we want. There is something they do care about and that will be the only thing that could cause them to backpedal and it will be virtually in real time if it happens. Let me explain and try not to confuse you as I do.
Numbers are amazing. Real time numbers even more so. When it comes to airlines, they track, in real time, so much data. They can see that what is happening over hours, translates over to days and so on. Trends show very quickly in numbers and real time numbers outside the norm can show either positive or negative trends. Interesting, but so what you may say. Hang on, follow with me.
SDC, that is Same Day Change. What is that? It is something very important to business frequent flyers. Same Day Change is finding your meeting has ended sooner than planned or canceled all together and rather than spending 8 hours in a Delta Skyclub you can “SDC” to a flight that gets you home to your family sooner than later. Priceless. Well maybe not priceless, but I can tell you first hand that many business flyers have departed Delta over this issue. Many more are ready to jump ship over Skymiles2015.
You see, back in the day, that is about 1.1 years ago, that is before the end of April last year, if you had booked ANY seat in coach, i.e. fare class did not matter, and there was a coach seat on an earlier flight, you could change. Depending on your elite level there was or was not a fee but let’s not worry about that for now. The point was you could, even with possible connections involved, get home sooner than later. The problem with this was it was a lost stream of revenue for Delta. Call it what you will, but many business travelers were unitizing this feature quite often. So Delta changed the rule to require a seat in the same FARE class, not just cabin. The result of this for many is either paying a huge price to change or stuck spending those 8 hours in an airport waiting to fly home.
Now I said just a bit ago the fee did not matter, but in real time it did. Initially Delta deiced to charge everyone to change even under the new restrictive rules. My guess is in real time Delta saw some very negative feedback a.k.a. less bookings by high spending passengers as nothing makes them more crazy than to have to pay for something they expect to get for free. So Delta rolled back this fee but left the rest of the “enhancements” in place to SDC.
Time goes by and Delta must have again been looking at the numbers and seen those who were booking 1st and business class tickets were choosing other airlines due to the SDC rules that also apply to the 1st class cabin. While less of the alphabet soup of fare codes, 1st class is also broken down to many categories and under the SDC rules that had to still be available. Apparently that did not sit well and was costing Delta money as now fare class, at least in 1st, does not matter and for those buying 1st the SDC rules are back to where they were before the change a year ago. That is to say, Delta backpedaled and undid what it had done at least for 1st class tickets.
Thanks for hanging on so far and for this background as we look to Skymiles2015. Delta is concerned that this major project is going to, for lack of a better word, fly. You can tell by the surveys they have been sending out to elites that they want to know if how many Delta points you earn will impact your business and leisure choice to buy tickets. They have little real time data on this as not all that many are buying tickets into 2015. Sure some, but so many, especially business travelers, are not buying until weeks or even days before flight. So real time data as to the impact of travelers truly seeing the impact of Skymiles2015 on their frequent flyer account will not be known until the end of January 2015. Personally I think most, unlike those who read DeltaPoints.com, just have not taken the time to understand how badly they will be impacted by the new program.
But I think when the “stuff” hits the fan next year and reality stares them in the face, I think that real time data will begin to impact Delta. They will then see bookings start to drop off by business travelers. At first a trickle and people may attribute the numbers to the slowdown in winter travel or such, but then as February and March hit and the numbers of bookings begin to decline at alarming rates it will be evident that both business and leisure flyers do care about their Skymiles. That is when either small or several changes to soften Skymiles2015 will be put in place.
Always understand, the only thing that will have any impact on the company is what we do with our wallets – not what we say in 2015. – René
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