It is always fun to do this kind of a post and to try to guess what is in store from our beloved airline of choice each year. Next year is unique in so many ways with so much about to change for us all (most of it not in a good way).
Since I am just a little “plugged in” to Delta I thought I would take a stab at what I think could / will / might happen and what we can expect. See what you think and if you agree with me.
Follow the “SkyDollars”. Every move or “upgrade” will reach for our pockets. Just look at the selling of upgrades in the Fly Delta APP. Everything is for sale including more food options and drink choices. I expect onboard seat upgrade sales will begin in 2015 as everything is in place. How many, say on a 3 hour flight, would not be thrilled to pay $50 (or more) to move from middle seat back row to an EC or exit row? They really are starting to run out of things to sell us but I will not be shocked at the “next” fee they do dream up. Oh and do expect prices to go up for everything from food to wifi. After all, once you are selling everything the only way to make more is to charge more for what you already have!
Skymiles2015. There are few topics I love to discuss more than Skymiles2015 with my fellow blogger MJ on Travel and he likes to point out he will do “better” with the changes. That is just in raw numbers and the improvement is nominal and even HE is looking at Alaska as another choice for loyalty. I think the program is going to make people nuts! I mean really crazy. The program is confusing and convoluted and has been so poorly explained that folks will be shocked when it is in full swing. Will this cause Delta to change course? Doubtful. Delta is “all-in” and I think it will take a dramatic drop in bookings and numbers before that happens. But I do think it could very well happen plus American & Alaska staying NON-Rev based could have a bigger impact than many think.
Jets & seats. We know Delta has at long last placed an order for new wide body jets. They have more 737-900s on the way still but a “little birdie” told me this jet is NOT living up to all the routes it was hoped to fill (despite the fuel savings). 2015 will see the rest of the old AirTran 717s feed in and that will help to retire more of the CRJ200’s as they feed 717’s into CRJ900 routes and so on down the food chain. Could we see a “new” form of seats that are better than EC and maybe one of the reasons for Delta trademarking EC+? Maybe they will share some exciting news on investors day this Thursday the 11th (or not). Or, since revenue is always on Delta’s mind, just take even MORE space from coach and give MORE space & recline to such a row of seats (that is the same seat as the rest of coach). With slim line seats anything is possible; just expect less and less room in the “way back” of Delta jets.
Other company tie-ins and promotions. Delta has SPG with Crossover Rewards. What else can they do? How about UBER? Why not earn Skymiles when using UBER. AMEX already works with them now allowing more earnings with AMEX Membership Rewards cards more and more so it could be a good choice. I mean we have to earn Skymiles some way since flying is no longer a good option for most of us. Plus, when you can market your customer list to another company, why not take another cut of the pie.
2016/2017 Medallion program. This one is really interesting. I wish I could be optimistic about this one and the sad part when I even start to think about this one is that I immediately think about what Delta can cut next rather than add to the program. Like what? Low level elites should be the most afraid. Delta wants to differentiate the top elites from “the rest”. Ways to do this could mean an end to free upgrades for Silvers (the least loved status from Delta). Golds should not be complacent as Delta would much rather you spend a bit more to make Platinum so why not motivate you by cutting some Gold perks. Lastly we already have Basic Economy E-Class as a non-upgrade fare; the next step for this one is to remove MQMs or MQSs. I will never book this type of ticket but some business flyers may find their company has put them in it either directly or via the travel agency they use (or in house one as well). Anything good on the horizon? Thinking NET=NEUTRAL there is not much they can do. Delta has tinkered with boarding and could let Diamond board with 1st class and this would not cost the company money. They could improve the Global and Regional upgrades to make them simpler to use, that is if there is a seat you can get it, but that is more a wish than an expectation. I do expect some tinkering with the Choice Benefits of just what and how much is offered.
I don’t know about you, but I think next year is going to be just fascinating to watch. Yes, somewhat like watching a NASCAR race as there is sure to be much excitement on the way (just not all of it good )! – René
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