Why Award Redemption Increases Should Not Be Done Without Advance Notice

“J ust like the unannounced change change from USA to Israel that my fellow blogger Gary from View From the Wing blogged about, it seems the same change has hit trips to Australia that is the price has JUMPED by 30,000 SkyMiles round trip. Thanks Delta. Honesty, Integrity and Respect is sure what we are seeing here”, according to this article written by René de Lambert of Renés Points. “This should not really surprise us. Delta shamefully and unapologetically hides award charts (that they still uses and clearly update) and also says because of ‘legal’ reasons can not tell us about award changes when all the other airlines on the planet inform us in advance of changes. Disgusting and this complete lack trust an honesty makes me just physically ill.”

I would not go to the extent that I would get “physically ill”; but René is absolutely correct about the lack of trust and honesty — although I have heard people argue that there is no difference to a grocery store raising the price of an item it sells without advance notice; so why should the frequent flier loyalty program of an airline be any different?

Why Award Redemption Increases Should Not Be Done Without Advance Notice

My answer is because it is different. When you shop at a grocery store, you typically use a form of currency issued by the government called money — whether you use a credit card, check or cash. If the grocery store raised the price too high for your taste, you can shop around at competitors in an attempt to find a better deal and use the same currency there if you are successful.

That scenario is not true with the use of frequent flier loyalty program miles or points, as you are at the mercy of the whims of the airline. In the case of Delta Air Lines, they can raise the redemption rate of SkyMiles on any award ticket they want — any time they want — and you have no recourse. You cannot take your SkyMiles and shop around to redeem them for a flight operated by any other airline directly, hoping to get a better deal by bypassing Delta Air Lines. You are obligated to follow the rules set forth by Delta Air Lines if you want to redeem your SkyMiles for any award. That is the main reason why I eschew affiliate credit cards which earn frequent travel loyalty program miles and points: because as generous as some of those offers might be, the company which issues the “currency” can change the rules at any time as to how you can use it.

More importantly, my trust in doing business with many of the frequent travel loyalty programs has been eroding over the years — especially with several scenarios which I am currently experiencing. Two of them involve frequent travel loyalty program miles and points not being credited properly or at all to my respective accounts; and I have had to go through a lot of time and effort — and the issues are still not resolved after almost a year. More details will be forthcoming in future articles.

Summary

Any company can conduct business any way its managers want, as long as they operate within the law. That does not mean that what they do is right. I believe that shortsightedness amongst executives — many of whom can leave their respective companies at any time and be compensated enough to never have to work again for the remainder of their lives — is a significant part of the blame. Another factor is that they often implement or approve policies which will never affect them.

“We want people to be able to use those miles not to fly for free but to control your experience,” said Glen Hauenstein — who is the incoming president and architect of the revenue plans of Delta Air Lines — and he wants to end the mindset of using its SkyMiles for free flights and free upgrades; and get you to treat those SkyMiles as a form of currency.

For the aforementioned reasons, I must respectfully disagree with Glen Hauenstein, whom I have met in person. SkyMiles are not a real currency. They never were a true currency. They never will be a true currency…

…and I must also correct his statement: he wants Delta Air Lines to control how you “control your experience” — whatever that means.

René de Lambert closed his article with the following statement:

“What can you do? Not much other than either spend your $kyRules on over prices drinks in the $kyPubs or book trips before these unannounced changes kick in. If you think things are going to get better you are living in a dream world. Burn your SkyMiles as fast as you can folks!”

I may just do that; but if I do, I intend to redeem them carefully and still try to get the most out of them…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Why Award Redemption Increases Should Not Be Done Without Advance Notice”

  1. Jason says:

    You are 100% correct that the executives are implementing policies that don’t affect them one bit. Not only that, they are only concerned about short term performance numbers that will boost their bonuses and raises. It’s that simple. They are not trying to make their company a great company for the long run, nor do they care about the long term welfare of their employees. The only thing that matters is short term profits and then they move on to the next money making gig for themselves.

    The air miles and loyalty program is nothing more than a scheme to lure people into doing more business with them. It is a short term scheme to optimize their profits, which they will constantly tweak to generate bigger and bigger profits at the expense of their loyal customers.

    Anyone who does not understand the above is just a sucker letting themselves get hoodwinked.
    I look at the loyalty programs as Disloyalty Programs since they are not loyal to their customers, and therefore I am not loyal to anyone of them.

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