I really enjoyed psychology and sociology in college. So much so I minored in sociology. I just love people and culture. I have found knowing and studying both of these has been a huge advantage in travels as well as in business over the years of my life. Interesting – but so what, you ask?
Enter Skymiles2015. I am really getting tired of folks (Hi Eric 😉 ) saying things like Skymiles2015 will be good for some. Hogwash – they are mistaken. Let me show you why the choices by our monthership are some of the dumbest moves any airline has made in 50 years.
First the company’s “idea” behind the change. They say:
“When you pay a higher price, you’ll be rewarded with more miles” – Delta.com
But the big catch is that it is only up to $6,818. After that the higher price you pay means nothing at all. The bottom line is they are saying we will love you more the more you spend with us, but only to a point. That just sounds peachy on paper but let me show you why this is just the height of stupidity and what is SURE to happen come 2015.
Elites, even big spenders, will be upset next year. I have said this before but most flyers are happily oblivious as to just what is on the way. Sure they got the company e-mails, have seen the notice on the Delta.com home page about the new program, but really have not taken the time to look because for now everything is still status quo (maybe it will not affect ME after all). Come February of 2015 they will see their Skymiles statement and start yelling FOUL! As long as American Airlines has not yet destroyed their frequent flyer program by then expect to see a BUNCH of flyers requesting status matches over at AA. Then we have the big spenders, that is those who are overpaying for tickets, that are smugly saying Skymiles2015 will be so great for them. Oh, did you all happen to miss this little tidbit?
“The updates to the 2015 SkyMiles program will not impact how you earn Medallion status.” – Delta.com
AKA there are going to be just as many medallions fighting for upgrades as EVER (unless a ton go over to AA that is). Delta was sorta smart to not yet decimate this part of the program because then the backlash would have been so much worse than it has already been at this point. So congratulations you 2%ers, you will have lots more Skymiles to spend! Let’s just hope Delta has been honest that more low level seats will open up under Skymiles2015 (but if not you at least will have more points to spend for seats, right?). And don’t think Delta is done cutting. When there is no more to be made on the rest of the 98% of us, just who do you think revenue management’s focus will change “altitudes” toward? We should ALL be VERY afraid of what is next.
Now let’s look at what Delta should have done to really effect change and what I think they will eventually do. They will change MQMs earnings over to be 100% tied into spend (and elite levels). This WILL have a huge impact and dramatically thin the medallion “herd”. The downside is they will succeed in infuriating the rest of the business travelers who really don’t care about Skymiles at all but stuck with Skymiles2015 because they DO care about status and upgrades. Then, other than the 2%ers, everyone else will be relegated to leisure travelers and be scrounging and fighting for the “best” coach seats. Upgrades will consist of exit row and aisle seats or maybe Economy Comfort seats if you are lucky (what a great name for yesterday’s reasonable coach seats for everyone). The other funny thing is doing this will have unintended consequences to Delta earnings. With dramatically fewer top level medallions, Diamonds & Platinums can then buy the cheapest ticket on the market and know they will score an upgrade (that will surely make revenue management happy).
Why do I think destruction of Skymiles is sure to happen? Delta culture! Delta has been hitting home runs for years now and making more money than ever. They can do no wrong. Every choice seems to be working great (and they quickly change the ones that don’t). Worst case they can just “park” planes if they need to and still fly 100% full. Plus, at this point, the cuts to the frequent flyer program have been tolerable or not yet come to full fruition. Also, management wise, many key people who were in place during this rise and the path they charted have moved on. Those filling their shoes must ALL think the choices were the reason for this rise and follow the same great course not knowing they are inheriting the IMPLEMENTATION of these choices that will be very different from the pre-implementation reality. Those folks in charge now will have to decide next year if flyer outrage will simply fade away like a jet stream in a clear sky and Delta numbers will continue to soar or if they need to quickly “divert” to an alternate airport and fix what is clearly a broken 2015 frequent flyer program! – René
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.