Well, what a week this has been. I think we all knew it was coming, but when the Delta hammer finally came down, it still took a lot of people by surprise. I’m not surprised by the reaction from most quarters. You know my thoughts on this specific action by Delta, and on mileage programs in general. I by no means think “the end is near,” but things are probably going to change for all of us eventually.
Other airlines will be watching the developments with great interest. I do not expect any drastic changes from American or United in the near term. We all know that American is at the beginning of its integration with US Airways. In short, they’ve got bigger fish to fry right now. That said, I expect the consumer reaction to Delta’s move to figure into planning for the new combined AAdvantage program. It’s generally known that there was some interest in moving to a revenue based program in Tempe. It’s hard for me to imagine that thinking has changed very much, bigger fish to fry or not. As for United, I doubt they are technologically capable of such a project at the moment. Further, they recently made some big changes with their program, and it might be a little soon to rush out with a brand new revenue based MileagePlus.
As for my unsolicited advice – Delta has changed the equation without giving us all the factors. I “get” the argument of releasing the award chart in advance being tantamount to signaling pricing, even if I do not agree with it. One wonders why Delta’s lawyers have reached a conclusion that no other airline has on this question. Rolling out such a big change with only half the picture was bound to be troubling for many. Conspiracy theories abound. My unsolicited advice for Delta would be to make darn sure the new award calendar really works, that availability really does improve, and that improved availability not all be at stratospheric levels. And give us the darn award chart already.
-MJ, March 1, 2014