Gary over at View From The Wing has staked out the position that Delta’s decision to remove their award charts may be the single worst thing to occur in frequent flyer-dom. Ever.
I mean, it’s not like he compares them to the lady that drowned the dog in an airport recently when she wasn’t allowed to board her flight with it. But, it’s a very stark position. And, I’m not 100% sure he’s right.
Now, some of this is tongue-in-cheek. I’m not a Delta fan by any stretch. And, I did think it would be fun to play devil’s advocate on this issue. I’m just not sure how long I’ll get hate mail.
But, before we get to the counter-argument, we need to cover Gary’s position:
When the new year came their pricing engine was charging more for some awards than the award chart indicated. So they changed the award chart to reflect the higher prices they had intended.
Still, their IT systems were broken and would sometimes charge for flights additively (e.g. Cleveland – Detroit – Grand Rapids could price as two awards instead of being treated as a connection). That’s been true for years.
I was promised an answer about what was going on here a month ago. They haven’t fixed the technology to charge what the award chart promised. They’ve taken away the charts.
Once you’ve selected your itinerary and logged into your SkyMiles account, you’ll be asked to pay for the flights you selected.
Within and between the Continental U.S., Alaska and Canada, round-trip Award Tickets will continue to start at 25,000 miles (plus taxes and fees).
They got rid of award charts. And, the outcry is that by removing the charts, Delta is being disingenuous. Gary theorizes some ideas why they might be doing this, and I’ll throw out some thoughts as to why the sky may not quite have fallen.
- If Delta’s award booking engine wasn’t accurately pricing things before, then the award charts didn’t really hold much value.
- There is/was no explicit promise by a program to publish an award chart. Given the advent of multiple price tiers for award flights, knowing that there are 5 different “prices” for an award is helpful, I guess. But, it’s more likely that the average Joe wants to know how much it is to fly on X date (when they can get time off from work, and maybe when their kids are out of school). And, reading a chart with umpteen categories doesn’t actually give him/her that info.
- Gary argues that Delta hasn’t been forthcoming in the past, and there’s certainly evidence to support this. But, there’s no evidence to support that they’ll be any more or less forthcoming without an award chart.
- He also notes that this might be a transition to revenue-based redemption, where Delta would price each award based on the current retail cost of the ticket. I just don’t see them making that move right now.
Breaking down Gary’s summary:
Regardless of the motivation, they’re undercutting the goal-oriented nature of the program (the number of miles needed for an award),
I don’t think they’re overtly doing that. As I said above, a member can use the award calendar to find out how much an award costs. See, I did it (one good price, one really bad price):
Even thought I got one really bad price, having an award chart to refer to wouldn’t have necessarily gotten me a better one in this example (I did find IAD-MIA flights that priced at the 25,000 level). Anyway, back to his big finish:
removing its transparency (what an award should cost),
There’s definitely less transparency, but the old charts didn’t show what an award should cost. It just gave you a very broad range that the price of the award would fall into.
and eliminating any external document that lets us point out when an award price is just wrong (the IT is broken).
Well, yeah. No way to know it’s broken. I’ll give him that. Delta, I can think of no way to defend you on this point. Okay, wait. If the booking engine is broken such that they can’t honor something on the award chart, then isn’t Delta doing you a service by not wasting your time and making you frustrated about an award you’ll never actually be able to book? Just sayin’…..
If I look at this with a broad brush, transparency is better than no transparency. Ask someone if they want more or less information about the price of something they want to buy, few will say they want less information.
But, it’s not clear today’s changes actually mean awards will cost more miles on Delta tomorrow.
The post Schedule Announced For Frequent Traveler University in Dallas was published first on Pizza In Motion.
Don’t miss any of the daily travel tips, tricks and strategies found here. Follow me using one of these options: