A slightly eclectic and tongue in cheek look at SkyMiles’ latest enhancement – I’m not an accountant, but I work with a lot of them. They’re kind of like lawyers in that they are difficult to love until you need one, but I digress. One thing about accountants is that they love to count things. Most of the accountants I know are really good people, but sometimes struggle with “the big picture” or seeing beyond “the audit trail.” You could be forgiven for asking what my pontification on accountants has to do with Delta SkyMiles eliminating around-the-world mileage redemptions come January 1, 2015?

Well, Delta, like all airlines nowadays, is run by finance people and bean counters accountants, and that’s not necessarily bad news…with some exceptions. They’ve been doing a little counting, and I’d bet you a dollar to a donut that the number of redemptions for RTW itineraries is in the hundreds (not even thousands) out of ever how many million SkyMiles members there are….or how many hundreds of thousands of awards are redeemed every year.

I have no idea what problem SkyMiles was trying to solve by eliminating RTW award on January 1, 2015. Apparently the cost of a SkyMiles RTW redemption compared favorably to others. It seems you’d solve that by raising the cost in miles, but I’m just a guy who writes things on the internet. My guess is that these redemptions had a real dollar cost that needed to be controlled, and the accountants saw this as an easy hit. I don’t really care, as the likelihood I’d ever book a RTW award is about the same as MrsMJ joining me on a cruise to Alaska. There’s a bit of griping online about the change, but not that much which may be telling. On the other hand, a RTW redemption could be seen as an aspirational redemption….something someone does everything they can to show some semblance of loyalty to amass the miles needed for that one award they really want. The trouble with aspiring for a redemption and a “semblance of loyalty” is that both are hard to quantify. In other words, the accountants counted the numbers and they did what comes natural. YMMV.

-MJ, October 7, 2014