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New Delta Promo Demands Much, Rewards Less

In the world of frequent flyer miles, there are promotions and there are novelty promotions.

Unlike ordinary promotions—which offer extra miles for flying on certain routes during certain time periods, for example—what I call novelty promotions link the bonus to improbable behavior or unnatural conditions.

And they generally position themselves as having a high fun factor, presumably to offset the extra effort required to meet the offers' more demanding requirements.

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The novelty promotion in question is the new Together We Fly offer from Delta. What makes it a novelty promotion is its reliance on teams to earn special bonuses, and its geographic focus. Here's the offer:

First, members of Delta's SkyMiles program band together into teams of up to four people and register (the team requirement). Each team's captain must have a SkyMiles mailing address in one of the following four states: Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, or Washington (the geographic hurdle). Thereafter, through May 15, any flights charged to the American Express card of any team member generate bonus miles for all team members as follows:

  • 2,500 total miles flown = 1,500 bonus miles per person
  • 5,000 total miles flown = 3,000 bonus miles per person
  • 15,000 total miles flown = 9,000 bonus miles per person
  • 20,000 total miles flown = 15,000 bonus miles per person
  • 25,000 total miles flown = 20,000 bonus miles per person

Got that?

My first reaction to such offers is annoyance—way too many hurdles for a modest payoff. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that there are travelers with the time and inclination to play along.

Since there's no special relationship required among team members—they needn't be family members, for example—it should be easy enough to round up a team, one of whom resides in one of the targeted states. It should also be a simple matter to fly Delta, with its extensive network of flights, both domestic and international. What may be the most onerous requirement for many is the credit card condition. If one or more team members already has an American Express credit card, he or she could use the card to charge tickets for the team. But if no one is currently a cardholder, this promotion in effect becomes a sign-up bonus for American Express, and as credit card bonuses go, it's not a particularly compelling one.

As alluded to above, I'm not moved by the supposed fun factor of travel promotions like this. Call me cranky. For less ornery mileage-earners—and especially Delta partisans who already have an American Express card—this offer may be worth jumping through a few hoops for.

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