Delta will act with impunity and there is no way to stop it or even prepare for it. But we are still stuck using Delta SkyMiles. In many cases, there is no smart alternative…
Yesterday Delta again devalued partner awards instantly and without notice. I appreciated View from the Wing’s peppery analysis, particularly this–
They rolled this out while their entire airline operation is in meltdown. Their IT broke down such that customers couldn’t even pull up itineraries on the Delta.com website, but they managed to spend time and resources finding a way to deliver even less to their customers.
It truly amazes me that Delta can be so bad at all things IT except for its devaluations. Then again, maybe the workaround is merely just an IT glitch.
But it doesn’t matter. If we “vote with our feet” where will we go?
Guess What, We’re Still Stuck Using Delta
If we are going to “hand it to Delta” we are going to need to find a better alternative. For many regions, I cannot find one.
Certainly, there are some areas where SkyTeam partners do better. For business class to Europe, Flying Blue offers for 62,500 miles what Delta now offers for 80,000. Even better, Flying Blue gives you access to far more fights on Air France, KLM, and Kenya Airways than Delta.
Want to fly first class? Korean Air is your go-to Skyteam partner. But you need Chase points for that.
How about Asia? If you have Korean Air points you get a slightly better deal, but if you are dealing with AMEX, you have three choices: Flying Blue, Alitalia MilleMiglia, or Delta. Flying Blue charges 100K one-way in business to Asia, Alitalia charges 95K, and Delta now charges 95K.
Book with Alitalia and you essentially cannot change your award and must deal with a horrible and inept call center. Book with Flying Blue and you can route through Europe to Asia, but have higher fuel surcharges and also an incompetent call center and draconian account audits. But book with Delta and you can likely quickly complete your booking online.
So what’s it going to be?
How about Africa, Australia or the Indian Subcontinent? Same story. I’m still sticking to Delta.
Until Delta devalues its Skymiles program so bad that it is a worse value proposition than its competitors, people will still use it. I booked five tickets for clients yesterday on Delta despite the devaluation. It just made sense. And so Delta will continue to act with impunity, even as each devaluation moves it closer to a point in which it truly loses its comparative value to competitors.
But here’s one important thing to note: my Skymiles balance is zero. You should aim for a similar balance, stocking up your points in American Express instead. It may well be the case that booking with Delta may still make sense, but you do not have to transfer your points to Delta until the moment you are ready to book.