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Delta Obfuscates Award Pricing

SmarterTravel

Airline mileage programs can be viewed as the relationship between two key components: the earning rate (the number of miles earned per mile flown or dollar spent) and the award chart (the number of miles required for award flights).

For 2015, Delta switched earning rates from the traditional flown-miles scheme to a revenue-based system that awards miles based on the price paid for tickets. The move devalued the program for all but the biggest spenders.

On Friday, timed to attract the least notice by the media and the traveling public, Delta removed the SkyMiles award charts from its website. Despite the cagey timing, the move did not go unnoticed. A firestorm of outrage and suspicion was unleashed on travel forums like FlyerTalk.

Among the comments:

Seriously Delta!?? Really getting fed up.

One of the most important things in a FFP is transparency. Sure they can increase the requirements for an award, but at least tell us or give us some sort of advanced notice. Loss of transparency is probably one of the top ways to lose their most valued customers. It’s too bad they have a decent hard product because their FFP is absolutely rubbish.

It’s a garbage move by a dishonest bunch of cronies.

This was the final straw. Just donated the remaining balance in my account to charity. Then called SkyMiles and had them close my account. The representative was obviously not used to that sort of request and didn’t even ask me why.

Also kind of like how the medical industry works in the U.S.; there are no price sheets at all. Doctors will charge whatever they feel like and you aren’t supposed to know the cost of the service before-hand. Same with SkyMiles, you aren’t shown any list price.

Since Delta had made no effort to alert SkyMiles members in advance, or indeed to clarify whether the award charts’ removal was intentional or just a technical glitch, I queried the company on its intentions. The email response from a Delta representative confirmed that the charts’ disappearance is permanent: “No, we do not plan on returning the charts.” As to the company’s rationale, there was this: “Why? Delta’s expanded search capabilities and calendar at delta.com offer more flexible and accurate view of Award prices.”

The idea that the award prices displayed on the booking calendar can replace the award charts is preposterous. For planning purposes, SkyMiles members need to know how many miles, minimum and maximum, are required for prospective award trips. The award calendar simply doesn’t do that. Which leads to the inevitable question: What are you hiding, Delta?

Reader Reality Check

How does Delta’s latest move affect your loyalty to the airline?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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