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Forbes Story on Skymiles Redemption on Premium Class Award travel

Forbes Story on Skymiles Redemption on Premium Class Award travel

Old Aug 29, 19, 11:37 am
  #1  
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Forbes Story on Skymiles Redemption on Premium Class Award travel

Just saw this: https://www.forbes.com/sites/garysto.../#57be3ae75985
I think this is very true. I will confess that I was never buying premium fares consistently enough to qualify as a high value customer... but I was a loyal customer and a Diamond Medallion since the very beginning. With the changes to the program, I have been spreading my spending across different airlines more, and even dropped the Delta AMEX when they went to a $250000 spend for DM qualification. I understand Delta's point of view but also believe that loyalty is a two way street. If it is true that they are seeing a steady increase in Medallion membership, good for them. It would be interesting to see what happens at the next recession, will the "loyal" high value flyers alone be able to see them through? Just my two cents worth!
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Old Aug 29, 19, 11:56 am
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And oddly enough I found a HSV-LAX-HSV First Class award last night for 52K miles, which is just barely above the legacy low level award. Even more astoundingly, it is straight single connects unlike the options being offered on other days to connect through AUS of all places.

Of course it was one lonely 52K award in a sea of upper middle and lower triple digits, but it was there.

And the award calendar search worked!
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Old Aug 29, 19, 12:16 pm
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Most of the destinations shown as examples in the article -- SYD, JNB, Hawaii -- have long had issues with decent premium cabin awards. Not trying to defend DL here, but there are definitely other markets where the deals are not so terrible or difficult to find. Here's the flexible dates calendar for roundtrip Delta One flights between 4/29 and 5/8 on SLC-LHR. Don't know where the guy was getting 400K miles. No these aren't all non-stop's, but then AA/UA do not have non-stop's this route so how is it valid to compare to DL non-stops??

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Old Aug 29, 19, 12:35 pm
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Also not to defend DL, I'd guess that some of those AA redemptions were on BA metal, meaning huge surcharges.

But my experience does match up with the author of the article. I spend more $$ on Delta, but miles on AA and UA. I'm sure Delta is just fine with that.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 12:53 pm
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Originally Posted by spc354 View Post
If it is true that they are seeing a steady increase in Medallion membership, good for them.
The spokeswoman (Steele) is not quoted as saying they are seeing a steady increase in Medallion membership; rather she says they are seeing a steady increase in SkyMiles membership. This is just more people signing up for the free program - not achieving Medallion status. Nowhere does the article say their Medallion numbers are increasing.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:08 pm
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All I know is, if you stopped redeeming miles for long-haul premium awards in 2008 or 2009, and woke up today and took a look at current redemption values, you'd think it was some kind of joke.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:20 pm
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I had no idea you could pay for drinks in SC with miles, nor would I. Now the 10k expiring drink coupons I have in my possession which I have absolutely no use for would definitely get unloaded at the SCs .. Too bad they donít take those!
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:20 pm
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Premium cabin awards are definitely higher, but coach is a mixed bag. I did DTW-MBJ this past winter for 18K RT. Rates were definitely not that low back in 08/09. Recently found DTW-LHR for 46K miles RT and NYC-LHR for 20K RT this fall. I believe that low-level TATL awards had increased to 60K RT by 08/09. The reality is that people FT are heavily skewed to people mostly/only doing premium awards. Outside of FT, there are lots more people/Medallions who don't have a problem with doing coach awards.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by xliioper View Post
Premium cabin awards are definitely higher, but coach is a mixed bag. I did DTW-MBJ this past winter for 18K RT. Rates were definitely not that low back in 08/09. You can currently do DTW-LHR for 46K miles RT and NYC-LHR for 22K RT this fall. I believe that low-level TATL awards had increased to 60K RT by 08/09. The reality is that people FT are heavily skewed to people mostly/only doing premium awards. Outside of FT, there are lots more people/Medallions who don't have a problem with doing coach awards.
Agreed that FT focuses on the premium class awards, and the truth is that those were BY FAR the best way to get value out of your miles in the past. Of course there was always debate about the "real" value you were achieving, because most of us would never consider paying the $8k r/t in cash for a 100k US-Europe ticket that calculates at $0.08/mile in value. Or one of the most egregious examples would be JFK-HKG on Cathay in First Class using AA miles -- I think it was maybe 155k give or take on a $25k r/t (!) ticket (though you could do a 1-stop for like $16k). 16 cents per mile!

I think also back then (before the GFC) it was harder to find more "affordable" premium fares outside of the summer/holiday fare sales to Europe, and certainly any time to Asia. But now it's not hard to find NYC-Europe for ~$2500-3000 r/t at nearly any time if you plan right, and even at 160k (award sales aside), that's only 1.5-1.9c of value per mile. Better than many redemptions on DL today, but arguably still a lot worse than in the past.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:43 pm
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
All I know is, if you stopped redeeming miles for long-haul premium awards in 2008 or 2009, and woke up today and took a look at current redemption values, you'd think it was some kind of joke.
I think if someone fell asleep in 2008 and woke up today, mileage redemption would be among the least shocking things
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:52 pm
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Yes, the redemptions stink, but ultimately what I care about most is a good all-around experience on my paid flights. On that metric Delta is performing better than United or American.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by spc354 View Post
It would be interesting to see what happens at the next recession, will the "loyal" high value flyers alone be able to see them through? Just my two cents worth!
The flyers that are most attracted to the best free stuff left DL a while back as DL didn't feel they needed them. But those are also the easiest people to "win" back as they aren't really loyal to an airline, they're just at the airline that values their loyalty the most. (Please note, that I do not feel that there is anything wrong with that strategy) To get many of those people back, they would only need to some combination of increase the number of RUC/GUC, increase the percentage of J seats available for upgrade, and lower the mileage cost on awards. They just don't need to do that right now, but if they feel the need to just put BIS it would be very easy.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 1:56 pm
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
Agreed that FT focuses on the premium class awards, and the truth is that those were BY FAR the best way to get value out of your miles in the past. Of course there was always debate about the "real" value you were achieving, because most of us would never consider paying the $8k r/t in cash for a 100k US-Europe ticket that calculates at $0.08/mile in value. Or one of the most egregious examples would be JFK-HKG on Cathay in First Class using AA miles -- I think it was maybe 155k give or take on a $25k r/t (!) ticket (though you could do a 1-stop for like $16k). 16 cents per mile!

I think also back then (before the GFC) it was harder to find more "affordable" premium fares outside of the summer/holiday fare sales to Europe, and certainly any time to Asia. But now it's not hard to find NYC-Europe for ~$2500-3000 r/t at nearly any time if you plan right, and even at 160k (award sales aside), that's only 1.5-1.9c of value per mile. Better than many redemptions on DL today, but arguably still a lot worse than in the past.
Two things have happened to the landscape of great redemptions on biz class over-water tickets:

1 - The price to buy these went down. You can frequently find decent lie-flat seats from the West Coast to Asia for $2500 RT, for example. East Coast to Europe can even be less.

2 - The redemption costs went way up.

So the "good deal" gap has narrowed considerably.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 6:48 pm
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
All I know is, if you stopped redeeming miles for long-haul premium awards in 2008 or 2009, and woke up today and took a look at current redemption values, you'd think it was some kind of joke.
Don't forget, in 08/09, you could also fly LAX-JFK in Y and expect to get 2500 SkyMiles for it. Now, you get way more or way less depending on your fare. Earning has gone entirely revenue-based so it's an entirely different game.
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Old Aug 29, 19, 8:08 pm
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It's true. DL premium cabin redemption are terrible, in general. They try to redeem themselves with occasional sales, but it is a pretty sad state of affairs. Delta doesn't care and this article won't change things.

I've had DL status for 10 years, most of the time DM, and drop to zero in 2020 because Skymiles has been so devalued, especially wrt premium awards.
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