I’m loving Joe Brancatelli’s latest column on why Delta feels that it can devalue its SkyMiles program…and why the airline is wrong.

Delta is convinced that its most loyal flyers will be okay with this gambit, the higher award prices, the reduced earnings and peek-a-boo award pricing. After all, Delta insists, it is a “better” airline so you shouldn’t be so interested in being better rewarded for loyalty.

He also devotes much space to the elimination of complimentary upgrades.  He notes that in 2013, 45% of customers paid for their first class seat, compared to 57% in 2015, and Delta’s estimate of 70% in 2018. He remarks on Delta’s outright bragging that they will continue to increase the number of sold first seats as SkyMiles customers find it harder and harder for their upgrades to clear…or potentially purchase the upgrade to avoid not clearing the list.

The biggest SkyMiles devaluation is yet to come as Delta strives to effectively eliminate complimentary first class upgrades, the most prized perk of frequent flyers. Delta isn’t positioning it that way, of course, because Delta specializes in obfuscating SkyMiles changes. But we know the perk is disappearing because Delta is publicly crowing about its ability to sell first class seats rather than give them to elite SkyMiles customers, the same elites who’ve been promised complimentary upgrades as a benefit for being loyal to Delta.

Check out the great read here.

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