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SHOCKINGLY accurate mainstream press NYT piece about Delta SkyMiles devaluations

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


nyt piece on delta frequent flyer program changes skymiles

Most in the mainstream press just don’t get it. Most, when I talk to them, still think that Delta elite status is based on how much you spend with the airline (it is not btw, it is based on distance plus fare class). Then, in addition to that most think you earn more elite points if you are an elite (you don’t, you only earn more SkyMiles). But this piece from the NYT is very accurate and spot on. Much of this due to the source for the piece, that is, Boarding Area’s own Gary Leff.

For a long time “View from the Wing” has been VERY critical of SkyMiles. Until about a year ago I enjoyed “blog fights” showing how in many areas he was taking it too far because there was true value to be had with SkyMiles it just took a lot of work to find that value. Now, it is truly simpler to find how many devaluations Delta has made over the past few years compared to the number of improvements they have made for flyers.

But here is the thing, folks, and what everyone needs to understand:

Delta does not care!

Delta jets are full. They are convinced that the award program is irrelevant other than acting as yet one more source of revenue for Delta. It has ceased to be a loyalty program. End of story.

Personally, I think Delta would very much like to simply dump SkyMiles altogether, but it is such a source of revenue that they cannot lock, stock and barrel end it.

I think the NYT piece’s most revealing and well focused statement  was:

“But Delta also hasn’t moved to a transparent miles redemption system that is based entirely on the cash price that the “free” ticket would otherwise cost, as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways do.” – NYT

And that is the rub of the matter and I think the reason for this is AMEX and SkyMiles. Moving to a transparent, say 1 cent or even 1/2 cent, value for SkyMiles would make it simple. But it would do one other HUGE thing – it would make earning SkyMiles worthless (more so than it already is now, that is).

us penny cut in half delta points blog less than one penny now

I mean, there are literally dozens of other cash back, not to mention other airline credit cards, that offer a much greater value to a card member when it comes to redeeming their points for COACH travel. Thus the need for Delta to carry on with this current silly hybrid system that confuses everyone and helps no one but Delta.

Personally, I respect those who simply fly Delta for the seat, product and service and never ever look at their frequent flyer account other than their elite point standing. At least those who do this and are willing to pay for 1st class tickets often as well as purchasing high priced and high fare class coach seats (thus netting more upgrades with top status and the high priced Delta Reserve card) will enjoy what Delta has to offer at the time of flight.

What did you think of the New York Times piece? Were you surprised to see such an accurate story for a mainstream press article? – René

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

11 Comments

  1. I agree that it is surprising that the NYT can write much of anything accurate. I guess they couldn’t see much to spin politically and the fact that this is basically anti corporate or anti “big airline” they just let it ride on facts. I think it is spot on, unfortunately.

  2. Don in ATL Reply

    I liked the article. Calling it a “Frequent-Flier Magic Trick” is one step short of calling it a scam. Read the comments in the NYT article. Very interesting.

  3. Sky Miles is a scam at this point. If we want change we all need to cancel any Delta Amex cards. I suspect they care more about that than whether you actually fly with them… Perhaps we need a campaign where we all cancel our Amex Delta cards and post on Social Media?

  4. I ditched my Delta credit card 6 months ago and I will avoid flying with them. How can you run a loyalty program when you have no transparency and have eroded any form of trust?

    The DOT should have NEVER allowed all the mergers all that talk about more options, lower fares … all Bunk.

  5. Exposure and the truth can only get damage reversed and make changes for the better. Love that it was written in such a big media outlet.

  6. I agree totally with Don in ATL that the article title make it sound like a scam. The one truly pertinent point (IMO) that was missed is that the article seems to imply that airlines are losing gobs of money from the programs, when the opposite is true. I doubt they “rue the day” that the process for all this extra money began. Otherwise, good article.

  7. Finally reached my limit with Delta’s devaluation of Skymiles in addition to changing the fare structures. The new fare matrix has driven upgradeable fares from Asia to the USA making the ticket overpriced. United has consistently beat Delta, even when including a Mileage Plus upgrade. Last week I received my status match with United and am switching. Sad, because Delta does have a superior product, but with the Skymiles devaluation coupled with increased pricing, my loyalty is waning.

  8. The New York Times article was excellent and to the point: especially the complete absence of transparency. And as you point out, Delta does not care.

  9. Did NYT change the headline of this article?

    It now has “Guesswork in Cashing In Delta’s Frequent-Flier Miles” as the headline instead of the “In Delta’s Frequent-Flier Magic Trick…”

  10. Pingback: Will all this "unwanted" nonparty line attention have ANY impact on Delta SkyMiles? Or does this validate what has been accomplished? - Delta PointsDelta Points

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