Gary says he’s glad my frequent flyer future is so bright that I have to wear shades. Admittedly, I’ve thought for a long time that change was coming to the frequent flyer landscape, it has just taken longer than I imagined. In a true “Forest Gump” moment almost 10 years ago (gasp…time flies), I was privy to a conversation between some airline people, a few with names many of you would likely recognize. The gist of the conversation – the things that the coming “revenue based” emphasis profess to fix needed to be addressed…..nearly 10 years ago. What took the airlines so long? Fear, I think. Fear of the backlash, fear of the unknown. That, and bigger fish to fry like rethinking their business models, turning the act of selling transportation between points on a map into a profitable endeavor, and buying each other. They also like selling miles, but that’s a blog post all its own.
When I profess joy about SkyMiles 2015, it’s more about generating discussion than amorous feelings. The truth is that as things stand now, I earn more miles under SkyMiles 2015 overall than the current program, that’s a given. The real question is will I be better able to redeem them? And for that, only time will tell. I’ve burned a lot of SkyMiles in the last year. Not because the sky is falling, but because that’s what miles are made for. In the end, it’s Delta’s program and my choice to fly them. Incidentally…or perhaps not incidentally, they make it easy to fly them. They have the most non-stops from the city where I live, they view operating a schedule as something more than a letter to Santa Claus, and they treat me fairly well as a Platinum Medallion. For me, the mileage program is not at the top of my list when I choose an airline. Miles are a side benefit for doing something I’m going to do anyway.
If Delta eliminated SkyMiles tomorrow and if all the airlines followed them, it would not change my need to travel. It could impact my choices when it comes to leisure travel, but then I’m back to picking an airline based on service, schedule, and price. Delta still wins. When it’s all said and done, I do believe that the entire US airline industry will be on some kind of “revenue based” model within 2 to 3 years. The real question is what will American do, and will it carbon copy the others? As the grand-daddy of mileage programs, there is potential for a different take on things. We’ll see what happens.
-MJ, June 19, 2014