Last week was a shock to the system of many frequent flyers. I’m not even really impacted by Delta’s changes yet, fully expected what they announced, and still….. I’m trying to figure out how I feel. To say this is a big change would be a major understatement. My airline background is in operations, not marketing, and I do not write a “miles and points” blog even if I do talk about my own experiences with them from time to time. That said, I do care about and owe a lot to airline miles. The truth is that I’ve experienced things I would not have otherwise been able to access thanks to miles, and flown in a level of comfort I could not otherwise afford. Even if I don’t always write like it, trust me when I say I like my miles.
In the near term, my way forward is the same as it has been. I will continue to fly Delta. The airline ops guy in me is quite comfortable saying that Delta is likely running the best U.S. airline. I’ve been nothing less than pleased with the Delta’s reliability and level of care I receive as a Platinum Medallion. On the other hand, their challenges on the SkyMiles redemption side are well documented. My cure for that has been to diversify into other rewards currencies. I’m sure there is nothing groundbreaking in saying everyone should diversify their miles and points holdings. That will continue to be my strategy in the near term.
Longer term, I will watch the developments with SkyMiles and how they proliferate to the other big airline loyalty programs. I cannot imagine that the remaining legacy programs remain untouched longer term. I’m especially interested in what we finally see on the redeemable side of the new SkyMiles program. So much has happened in the last year that one could be forgiven for being a bit suspicious that the award calendar really will be fixed, or that availability really will improve. For now, I am cautiously hopeful.
I’ve always said that miles and points programs are all about doing what’s good for you. Don’t get emotional about it. Take a sincere look at your situation, really analyze the costs vs. the benefits, then act.
Coming this week – my last word on the new SkyMiles until we see an award chart.
-MJ, March 3, 2014