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Delta turned the screws on its airline partners this week, it is devastating to my Asia-centric travel patterns, while others, such as US domestic travelers and the Rick Steves travelers (Western Europe only) are less affected. Other changes this year have hurt them, though.
“It is basically just a teaser,” I recall a frank gate agent once telling a young woman who had just qualified for Silver Medallion status and was inquiring of the benefits.
The new, 4-tier ‘West and the rest’ model, is exceedingly complex. The carriers with which Delta has the strongest financial partnerships are no worse off than the March 1 devaluation, while carriers in EMEA and Asia are shunted to the lower tiers explicitly to de-incentivize travel on them by Delta flyers, except when buying codeshare tickets, when applicable. My current trip to Shanghai, if I had gone with China Eastern I could have had the codeshare for the low, low price of…$3,000 more. Any Delta traveler seeking to utilize SkyTeam partners now must do complex research to hope to avoid getting hosed. In contrast, Delta also wants a hand in your hotel decisions with the recently launched Crossover Rewards with Starwood, which is innovative and a positive incentive. Nice to have these points rolling in, it has not impacted my hotel decisions, but may for others.
Wandering Aramean and Cranky Flier both have great analyses that I will not repeat, I especially enjoy Cranky’s pyramid graphic with the base “Screw Off” level. See comments on Cranky’s piece for Double Diamond Maarten’s take.
Delta has been dismissive of its NWA Asia inheritance. NWA’s brand was extremely strong in Asia, especially Japan. Hardly a travel agent in the region did not have a NWA sticker in the window, most still do. Toyko-Narita would ring with the familiar PA announcements starting, “North-e West-e koku…” Since the merger, other than the failed courting of JAL from OneWorld, Delta has focused elsewhere. With Korean and the strongest China presence of the alliances, Delta and SkyTeam should be leading East Asia and Central Asia.
My ethnic stereotype simplistic analysis is that you put together arrogant, parochial American executives with proud, stubborn Korean executives and you get a meltdown. Chinese carriers are not going to be dictated to, either.
I find it funny that Delta feels they’ve successfully “clarified” the benefits in a new chart that includes phrases such as:
“Reduced” – referring to MQM earning in Groups 2-3
“Up to 100%” – referring to base miles earned in Groups 2-4
“Up to 50%” – referring to class bonus in Group 2
“Up to 25%” – referring to class bonus in Group 3
Finally, now I know that if I fly Saudia, I will earn “reduced” MQMs, “up to 100%” base miles, and “up to 50%” class bonus. That definitely cleared up all my questions, thanks Delta!