Part of me masochistically hopes that United Airlines will follow Delta Air Lines and make obtaining top-tier status so prohibitively hard that I will finally be liberated from the status hamster wheel.
Delta SkyMiles Changes Make It Easier Than Ever Before To Become A Free Agent
I’m working on a post that showcases how United Airlines can capitalize on Delta’s big changes to the SkyMiles program to build loyalty and permanently poach Delta customers alienated by the punitive changes announced yesterday.
But I do have to wonder if United will use this opportunity to implement something similar or maybe just slightly less punitive to all but the biggest spenders. United lounges do not suffer nearly the same amount of crowding as Delta lounges do (I’ve never seen a line outside the door, except in Denver, which is now resolved) and I’ve sensed that the top-tier MileagePlus elite ranks have been thinned out quite nicely this year, perhaps in part because United does not offer rollover elite miles.
But with Mr. Comcast running MileagePlus, I do have to wonder what United has up its sleeve.
And if United did decide to double the spending necessary for top-tier status and delete the PQP + PQD combination that reduces the spending necessary to obtain 1K status from $25,000 to $18,000, I would become a free agent and start flying the routes and at the times that made the most sense to me, regardless of carrier.
That’s what Delta seems to be missing here. In a sense, to meet the $35,000 minimum spending requirement through flying, you have to buy only premium cabin tickets. But if you do that, what do you need status for? Shorter hold times? A shiny luggage tag? There actually is no compelling reason.
Loyalty programs are valuable to customers on the margin, those who have discretion in their spending and often spend their own money, and are willing to funnel their spending into one carrier if the cost/benefit analysis make sense. These changes at Delta eliminate the marginal benefit of choosing Delta over other carriers when there is so little benefit for loyalty measured by actual miles or segments flown (loyalty is not just dollars spent…it never has been and the insistence that it should be the sole metric is misguided).
If this is the new way forward for the Big 3, I may well try Alaska Airlines, but the more likely outcome is that I will finally be liberated from airline status and probably be thankful for it looking through the rearview mirror.
I really hope United does not follow Delta and thereby remove any incentive for me to pursue top-tier elite status, but it would be somewhat of a relief if it does. I’ll spend about $20,000 on United/Star Alliance travel this year… sometimes that is inconvenient, but the PlusPoints and domestic upgrades make it worthwhile. But double the requirement and I’m out. And probably all the better for it…
How about you? Same boat?