There’s been a bunch of buzz in the blogsphere about a new program Starwood Preferred Guest had coming out called “Crossover Rewards”. Now, I’m a Platinum member of Starwood Preferred Guest so these discussions perked up my ears.
The rumors flying around yesterday were people who were announcing they had confirmed reports upgrades on Delta were part of the benefit package. And, these were very credible members of the travel writing community.
But, things were made official today by SPG, and as View From the Wing pointed out, that upgrade benefit seems to have hit the cutting room floor.
And, as I read through the T&C of this new promo, it also seems like this is furthering Delta’s push away from online travel agencies:
3.1 Qualifying Delta Flight. A “Qualifying Delta Flight” is a ticket with flight legs that are both marketed by Delta and operated by Delta or a Delta Connection® carrier and that is eligible to earn miles in the Delta SkyMiles program under the Delta SkyMiles Rules & Conditions, except for flights that are booked through online travel agencies including, without limitation, expedia.com, hotwire.com, priceline.com, orbitz.com, Cheaptickets.com, travelocity.com and each of their subsidiaries. A flight operated by a Delta codeshare partner is not a Qualifying Delta Flight.
This notation is in reference to earning Starpoints on Delta flights. This language is much more specific than language Delta released earlier last year about reducing earning on certain tickets. In that release, it was unclear whether a third-party booking engine like expedia.com. The language above makes it clear. Buy a ticket from someone else, Delta isn’t giving you Starpoints.
And, while that’s ultimately worse for the customer, I do understand why an airline might not want to pay a commission to an online provider like Expedia or Priceline. Whether it’s a good business practice to do so is a completely separate matter. Some people (and some very frequent travelers) swear by booking through a third-party for a number of reasons, including some benefits offered for doing so. I’ve always been fine booking through the airline’s website, though I’m not sure if I’m among the minority.
I think Delta elites end up getting the better deal here in that they get miles for spend at hotels plus some pretty decent benefits like 4pm late check-out and free internet.
I’m not a Delta flier, but I’ll appreciate having the early boarding option when I (infrequently) travel on one of their flights. Generally speaking, I’ve only flown Delta when traveling with my family over the last few years, so boarding early with the kids is always a plus, and not something they’ve always honored for me as a non-elite traveling with an infant. The free checked bag is ultimately helpful as well because I have actually paid baggage fees on Delta when traveling with the family in the last few years.
If they had ultimately added the ability to upgrade, even at the bottom of the totem pole, I would see this as significant plus for me. That being said, the travel loyalty world is changing, and there’s a relentless march to programs that are more revenue-based. Since I envision most of that to be a downward spiral in value to most frequent travelers, getting an extra benefit along the way doesn’t hurt.
- Year-End Factoids From Starwood Preferred Guest (pizzainmotion.com)