Most of you will note that none of the 'good stuff' is new. Most of what is implied is that those of us who don't count as last minute first class flyers from NYC to BOS or MIA to ATL will get shafted, as Delta has started doing on a regular basis:
Whew,.,...talk about confusing! Five Classes of service is just ridiculous. Talk about a way to confuse the average traveler. I noticed now the very base coach fare does not include a seat assignment and Delta always oversells their flights. Definitely sounds like a ploy to get some additional revenue.
Initially, having a Frequent Flyer account with an airline afforded some privileges; then, came categorical achievements, such as number of miles flown, then segments; shortly afterward, the number of miles & segments were increased, and requirements for free tickets increased as well. Airlines, like Delta, then awarded "system upgrades" for those achieving "Platinum" status, now these are no longer available, unless you perhaps reach "Diamond" status, or those who live on a plane.
A few years ago, I concluded having a Platinum status with Marriott was more important than same with an airline; however, I'm not so naive as to think the standards for this will remain the same very long.....
I totally understand that for those who fly a lot and are loyal to one or two airlines the devaluation of benefits stinks. As a person who does not fly at all for work I do not know what it is like to travel weekly like Diamond and 1K and EXPlat elites do. Honestly, from my perspective, they deserve every upgrade and perk they get. I only fly for vacations and leisure trips and it is stressful and annoying enough so to do it in a suit or business atire weekly, fighting lines of idiots at security, idiots in the boarding area, idiots on the plane, they deserve every perk they get. On the other hand, since the airlines in their infinite wisdom got credit cards in the mix several years back and when that happened too many people either became elite, or received benefits like checked bags and priority boarding that elites got without having to fly the actual miles in a seat. I think that it is actually a good thing that the elite ranks are being thinned out. What good is it to be an elite on a particular airline if you never get upgrades because the upgrade list has 47 elites on it trying to snag sometimes 2 or 3 seats. Ever been to EWR on a Monday AM or Friday afternoon? Look at any United flight going to ORD, IAH, SFO, and you will see what I mean. Lets take EWR-SFO for example, usually a 757-200 or a 737-8/9. They usually have 16 seats. So, lets say 4 seats are actually paid for with cash. Lets say 4 are people using miles for vacations. That means that only 8 seats are available. If you have 40 elites on a flight all going for those same 8 seats, guess what, you are going to have Platinums and even 1K fliers being denied regularly. I would hate to be one of those people who are loyal to one airline only to not get upgrades when I really want them. The airline will always make out on the deal because if every airline runs at 90% capacity on average, simply switching to another carrier won't make a difference because you will just see the same thing.
Great insight even for a NJ kid!!
You make some outstanding points that I'd like to add to regarding those upgrades etc. I used to fly IAH-PHL often on the first flight on a Monday morning using a government fare which at the time was required to be a full fare economy ticket. Since I had lofty status with CO/UA I got an instant First Class upgrade when I purchased the ticket. The plane would vary from a B735 or A319 (8 FC seats) to a B739 (20 FC seats) so myself and normal travel partner who was also a higher end Elite already had two of those seats. Here comes the day of travel and you'd check the upgrade list to find something like the 47 you mentioned to 75 Elites hoping for that upgrade which very very few got if any. The airlines marketing folks have a very good grasp on what flights to what location will command the high dollar fares and you won't find very many if any upgrades using miles, quite often during the end of my working days I would have to find a way to trick the system to get an upgrade to just pick a different day/time.
The invention of airline credit cards for gaining Elite status really screwed the folks who had their butts in the seats for 100,000 miles plus a year and is a program I despise to this very day. Okay, give the CC fan a free checked bag or a yearly book of drink coupons, but don't give them status just for spending money. And then we have the famous Marriott/UA partnership that clogs our CL with UA travelers who had never spent one night in a Marriott property until that was rolled out.......what the heck let's ping our pal erc just for fun so he can see my rant!!!
Delta sent me an email that stated their new FF program is designed for people like me. People that buy last minute flights and fly traditional business routes. What they don't seem to realize is that there is competition. I recently went to New Orleans and Delta wanted $1300.00 for economy seating. Ended up booking with Spirit and saved my company $900.00.
Those quilted seat covers do look nice though...
yes I have been saying for a while the big airlines are going where the money is last minute full fare business travelers. Will hotels do the same we will see. I enjoy being a life time platinum with Marriott as I view it as a reward to over 1000 nights stayed and still use around 3-35 per year. I have over two million miles with USAir about to be 2.7M when combined with AA. I am lifetime gold which never gets me an upgrade even on flights as short as Phoenix to LA
I'm sitting at the Tintoretto Lounge in Venice waiting for my flights home and was reading the IHT and an article on "airlines rejoicing" at low fuel prices. A couple lines struck me, especially in view of all the 'enhancements'. (BTW, do you think dictionaries have added a new possible meaning for 'enhancement'?
"During an investor conference last week with stock-market analysis, Delta Airlines posted a PowerPoint slide that illustrates the revenue-management-zeitgeist at airlines. It said, 'HIGHER REVENUE THROUGH BETTER CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION'."
Actually it feels like we've been 'segmented' for at least a year and that they're trying to pull us into smaller and smaller pieces.
1) I don't know about dictionaries, but I'm confident Marriott Rewards has added a new definition of enhancement
2) You have highlighted a little known reality. If you want to bypass the marketing fluff of corporate messages and head to the true desires of a corporation, follow the money. Read what the financial analysts write and even more unfiltered, sit in on an earnings conference call among analysts and investors - that's when you get to the core of the strategy (even more so than Annual Reports or shareholder meetings). This is the audience that goes a long way toward the capitalization strategy of these growth firms and they (quant geeks like myself) get the straight scoop. It's filtered also of course, but with less emotional appeal and slanted more toward the brilliance of the R.O.I. (return on investment) optimization strategy, rather than the touchy feely angle of warm feelings and customer loyalty.