Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Delta Ail-lines SkyMiles:

As a preface, and as most readers know, I have earned well over five million miles with Delta Ail-lines. That's since they started counting in the early nineteen-eighties. I'd flown another million or two miles on Delta before that.

I also want to thank Joe Brancatelli for bringing this matter to my attention. Even as a Lifetime Platinum and Five Million Miler, Delta did not send an email notification of these important SkyMiles changes to me, and I did not notice the announcement on their website.


We had a good run with SkyMiles, the Delta Ail-lines frequent flyer program: over twenty-five years. In its heyday, it was the best!

But SkyMiles is now worthless and Delta Ail-lines' new management cannot be trusted.

With its newest announcement, Delta's new management has made it plain that the program is being fatally devalued by taking away your right to use your miles when you most need them.

Furthermore, Delta's new management will do this as and when it suits them from behind a curtain, with no knowledge on your part of when or where your mileage may not be used, and with no recourse to you.

Their actions effectively kill the SkyMiles program.

Here's what's been recently posted on the SkyMiles website under "Changes To Award Travel":

... [E]ffective December 1, 2007, SkyChoice Award Ticket Reservations will no longer be available on every Delta flight in which a seat is available for sale.

SkyChoice Award Ticket Reservations will continue to be available on most Delta flights, but seats will be limited and possibly unavailable on some flights.

Our SkySaver Award Ticket Reservations will remain unchanged.

In other words, the SkyChoice double mileage award which has up to now guaranteed that you could get an award seat any time that (a) a revenue seat was available, and (b) you were willing to pony up two times the normal mileage, is no longer guaranteed.

And, in case you missed it above, you will not know when SkyChoice seats aren't available or on which routes. Because Delta has suspended your rights and mine to use twice the normal hard-earned mileage for a guaranteed award seat whenever it suits their fancy. But they won't tell you on what routes or on what dates.

And there is no recourse, either, such as making us pay three times the normal mileage instead of two times. You just won't be able to get a seat. Period.

Which means your Delta SkyMiles currency is worthless and the new management at Delta cannot be trusted.

It's as if the U. S. Treasury suddenly said that the dollar will no longer ALWAYS be accepted for payments, but it wouldn't say when the dollar's no good, and it wouldn't say what places won't accept it. That would effectively make our currency worthless. If that happened, would you trust our Treasury Department ever again?

While they were gutting a core value of SkyMiles, the geniuses at Delta Ail-lines also threw in this change for good measure:

Some airline partners impose a surcharge on Award Travel redemptions for travel on their airline. These charges will be collected at the time of booking.

In so doing Delta has shifted part of the payments they make for award seats on "partner" airlines to you. They are making you and me pay for a portion of the partner award seats that were previously included. Another devaluation.

These new Delta managers are not sensitive to us and the promises the airline made us in the years in which we earned those miles in good faith and anticipation of use as long stated in the SkyMiles program. They cannot be trusted.

What to do? Well, some thoughts come to mind. I certainly have even less incentive to fly Delta now. What with the current difficulty to find any upgrades on mainline flights and the plethora of uncomfortable RJs on their routes, my yearning to book Delta has already waned. With the SkyMiles devaluation, I can't see any reason to fly them when any other alternative is available to me.

Then there's my American Express Membership Miles. I have always dumped those miles into my SkyMiles account, but no more. At least using them for a new washer or dryer at Lowe's yields a precise and definite value. By contrast I don't now know WHAT my Delta SkyMiles are worth since every day new holes in their program open up quicker than holes in caved-aged Gruyere.

How about writing to their CEO? Used to be that worked well. Nowadays, however, though I have a thick sheaf of "Delta Million Miler" stationery that's supposed to fast-track Delta's best customers' issues to the top guy's attention, it's pointless.

Alas, these days all I get back from a note on Million Miler stationery is an aloof boilerplate letter from some nameless boob (bearing a pompous title like "Executive Assistant To The CEO") with an utterly insensitive, sanctimonious justification for their latest customer takeaway, the clear subtext of which is that they wish I wouldn't bother them and would just go away.

It took me awhile to get the message, being the loyal customer that I was, but I have decided that, well, they are right, and I WILL just go away!

So rest in peace, SkyMiles. You were great to us once, as was Delta Airlines (before it became Delta Ail-lines), and I will remember those days. I hate to see you sink beneath the waves.

It pains me, too, to see Delta Ail-lines itself not far behind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've been thinking that all of these programs are destined to morph into something way different than they are now. It's hard to believe, but AAdvantage is about the only program left (in my experience) that has seats on any kind of semi-consistent basis available at the "restricted" level.

I was disappointed to see this from DL as I've recently had a spate of travel on them, and have really enjoyed it.

I was on the edge of getting myself one of those DL Skymiles cards from Amex, but once I read this news a few weeks ago....I changed my mind.

10/19/2007 8:34 AM  

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