Skymiles: Race to the Bottom

A few hours ago I received an email from Delta in regards to update to Skymiles.  The email reads:

Over the past year, more than 1,000,000 Award Tickets were canceled or changed within 72 hours of departure. As a result, almost all of these seats departed empty as other members did not have enough time to book them.

In an effort to make these seats available to others and to improve Award Travel availability, we need to implement a policy change. Effective for travel on or after August 15th, you now must cancel or change Award Tickets at least 72 hours before your scheduled flight departure time. However, you will still be allowed to use same-day standby and the same-day confirmed program on the day of departure.

We know this may be difficult for those who make last-minute Award Travel changes; however, we believe it is necessary in order to open up greater availability for all members.

Please note that we are not modifying any other Award policies for changes made more than 72 hours before your flight — Diamond and Platinum Medallion® members will continue to receive complimentary fee waivers while a fee of $150 will continue to apply to other members. In addition, Delta remains the only U.S. carrier with fee-free Award booking within 21 days of your departure.

Upon reading the fine print, the rules state:

Miles for Award Travel are nonrefundable for flights canceled or changed within 72 hours of the original flight departure time. For cancellations made at least 72 hours prior to departure, Diamond and Platinum Medallion® members will continue to receive reissue and redeposit fee waivers, and fees will continue to apply for other members. Changes and reissues made to Award tickets must be made at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled flight departure time. This applies to both outbound and return flights. Award Tickets booked within 72 hours of departure are nonrefundable and cannot be redeposited or changed.

For me, I tend to make lots of changes on rewards and I often don't know until the day of if I'm going to move forward with a trip or not.   Delta has just taken this flexibility away from me.  What's particularly interesting is based on the verbage, Delta is including the Diamond and Platinums in this decision.   One of the biggest benefits of having top tier status is the flexibility you get wirh mileage rewards and this is a huge benefit to lose.

Rather than making inventory available and admitting they are stingy, Delta has decided to lay the blame on its customers for rewards not being available.  Way to isolate your customers Delta.

Delta just convinced me not to chase status with them for next year.  Perhaps it's time to bring back the Save Skymiles campaign.


Matt August 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

"What's particularly interesting is based on the verbage, Delta is including the Diamond and Platinums in this decision. One of the biggest benefits of having top tier status is the flexibility you get wirh mileage rewards and this is a huge benefit to lose."

I would go so far as to say that this is pretty much targeted at Platinums and Diamonds. Terrible move and cuts deep into one of the biggest benefits of those status levels. As a newly-minted Plat out of MSP, this hurts.

Gene August 10, 2011 at 07:33 am

This is the last straw for me. I won't be accumulating anymore SkyDung.

Hunter, where are you when we need you? In mourning?

Nick August 10, 2011 at 08:57 am

While I do understand Delta's stance on this because of the number of last minute changes by Platinums and Diamonds (granted that is because of their poor advance availability for saver award space) my main problems with this change are how closely they announced it before implementation, and the fact that it is retroactive to all previously booked itineraries.

Unfortunately this is par for the course, as they really just want to print miles, and is actively trying to make them as worthless as possible without dropping the price that companies pay to buy them.

I have to admit based on my recent experience with @deltaassist I was considering maybe delta was an airline that I might move some flying over to. After this announcement, that will not be the case.

Matt August 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

If there's any truth to the recent rumors, looks like UA wants a leg up in this race.

I have no idea what to say about this, other than a) I almost never use awards, so this really doesn't affect me, but b) what a really, really terrible move for Delta. The product worked for me when I was in the US, it obviously is OK now, based on accrual from partners. All short term partners are essentially equal where I am. That said, the grass is always greener: there are plenty of product and accrual issues with the other two mainline carriers, especially when using their partners.