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Here is why they will get away with it in the short term

Here is why they will get away with it in the short term

Old Oct 10, 2023, 6:43 pm
  #1  
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Here is why they will get away with it in the short term

I flew RNO-SLC-JFK today (a Tuesday afternoon October 10) Booked 8 days out it was a Q fare (read, expensive) and there was 1 J seat available for sale at like $2900 each way SLC-JFK. No thanks.

In SLC I stopped by the Sky Club and it was not a line outside, but still QUITE packed, at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I stress again, a Tuesday, historically the deadest time of the week for air travel. In October, which is usually a slow month. SLC in general was VERY busy.

The JFK-SLC departed with me, a DM / Reserve / Business traveler / MM at #7 on the upgrade list. There were no upgrades to J and one upgrade to C+ that I think was a no-show. A full flight that went out with a lot of standbys not boarded on a Tuesday.

Despite all the devaluation and nonsense, DL is selling the heck out of airfares on full airplanes, driving a ton of volume through a fortress hub. On Tuesdays in October. I think it’s overly restricted capacity on their end (less premium seats and smaller gauge compared to competitors- if this was UAL they’d be flying a 777 SLC-JFK on a hub-hub route with a lot of premium seats). But I’m sure the margins are terrific.

Historically I have tolerated the rather crappy SM program because Delta was just a better airline and when it hit the fan, as a DM, you got taken care of. In the last few months that has NOT been the case, and despite it all, they are selling the heck out of everything.

In my case I usually do RNO-LAX-JFK; despite the extra 500 miles or so I’ve found it much more resilient - a lot more flights on a lot more airlines on both segments so I can always make it home whereas I’ve spent too many nights stuck in SLC, but in this instance the schedule won out.

The challenge is, I’m not a hub captive, but switching is painful even for me. B6 isn’t year round, UAL REALLY likes to route you through Denver (which is basically the same drawbacks at SLC- near monopoly on each leg limits flexibility) as their LAX connections are less frequent, Southwest (with whom I maintain A-List mostly for personal reasons) is, despite good people, NOT GOOD when it hits the fan over there. And AA- just no. Same drawbacks as UAL, plus a LOT more.

Other options are constructing weird routings flying LUV or DL or B6 RNO-LAX and then United LAX-NYC. But that will blow up in my face too.

I think it will take a travel downturn to actually turn Ed’s head off of this course he is on. Because it’s printing money. And given how resource constrained they are on planes, staffing and otherwise (Ed’s fault, but spilt milk at this point) squeezing harder does make business sense. They will walk back some of the recent changes of course, but still, we’re going to get squeezed until there is some demand destruction. Or maybe the FTC gets serious.

Le sigh.

Last edited by PupManS; Oct 10, 2023 at 6:59 pm
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Old Oct 10, 2023, 8:10 pm
  #2  
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So looking at RNO-JFK Coach fares for travel this Thursday, here are the lowest fares on DL:




And here are the lowest fares on AA:





With just mid-tier elite status on AA (or AS), you'd be able to select a Main Cabin Extra (extra-leg-room) seat free of charge at time of booking. MCE seats also include free alcoholic drinks and dedicated overhead bins. I take it that this is similar to Comfort Plus.

But if AA is a hard "No" for you, so be it.
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Old Oct 10, 2023, 8:53 pm
  #3  
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that $180 is Basic Economy; AA Main is $225


it’s also in N, which only earns 50% if crediting to AS
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Old Oct 10, 2023, 9:53 pm
  #4  
 
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Today was like Monday in a normal week, in that yesterday was a federal holiday.
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Old Oct 10, 2023, 10:30 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by jrl767
that $180 is Basic Economy; AA Main is $225


its also in N, which only earns 50% if crediting to AS
That's true, but if one has status with AA or AS, you still get free checked baggage and free MCE on a Basic Economy fare. You do lose refundability (i.e., credit towards a future flight) and earn fewer miles.

And, of course, even the $225 Main Cabin fare is cheaper than what DL is offering that day.

Last edited by guv1976; Oct 11, 2023 at 12:34 pm
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 8:47 am
  #6  
 
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Meanwhile my experience: I end up frequently on DL, even though it is my last choice of the 4 legacy carriers because DL is very often the cheapest by a margin to big to ignore (especially when others are paying). The last ticket I bought was $812 on DL and $1500 on AA or UA. The time before that I had choice of $872 on AS or $475 on DL (all cheapest non basic fares).

I think the numbers do show that overall DL does have a fare advantage, but it is very small.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 8:53 am
  #7  
 
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As fun as it would be to go all stumpy feet and totally cut all activity with Delta and their credit cards, unwinding a relationship is more often a slower process- the vast majority of people who are unhappy with the changes are going to go ahead and fly tickets already booked- most folks don’t buy a fully refundable ticket so cancelling just gets you an eCredit to be used on another Delta ticket and all. Moving spend around on credit cards isn’t instant for most folks either- it’s been a couple of weeks since the announced changes and it was only yesterday that I sat down and changed over a couple of autopay bills from my SkyMiles Platinum card to my new Everyday Preferred card.

I think you don’t really start to see any impacts show up until 1Q 2024 if they’re going to show up. And with an even bigger drop in 1Q 2025- if people know they’re going to lose a benefit, they’re probably going to ride that horse while it lasts even as they strategize the next step for when status and lounge access runs out.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 8:55 am
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Originally Posted by Aliquot
Meanwhile my experience: I end up frequently on DL, even though it is my last choice of the 4 legacy carriers because DL is very often the cheapest by a margin to big to ignore (especially when others are paying). The last ticket I bought was $812 on DL and $1500 on AA or UA. The time before that I had choice of $872 on AS or $475 on DL (all cheapest non basic fares).

I think the numbers do show that overall DL does have a fare advantage, but it is very small.
😂

Only examples that fit the predetermined narrative are acceptable.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 8:57 am
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by beachmouse
As fun as it would be to go all stumpy feet and totally cut all activity with Delta and their credit cards, unwinding a relationship is more often a slower process- the vast majority of people who are unhappy with the changes are going to go ahead and fly tickets already booked- most folks dont buy a fully refundable ticket so cancelling just gets you an eCredit to be used on another Delta ticket and all. Moving spend around on credit cards isnt instant for most folks either- its been a couple of weeks since the announced changes and it was only yesterday that I sat down and changed over a couple of autopay bills from my SkyMiles Platinum card to my new Everyday Preferred card.

I think you dont really start to see any impacts show up until 1Q 2024 if theyre going to show up. And with an even bigger drop in 1Q 2025- if people know theyre going to lose a benefit, theyre probably going to ride that horse while it lasts even as they strategize the next step for when status and lounge access runs out.
Generous signup bonuses can be clawed back if you dont keep the card for a full year. Plus the companion cert comes just before the one year anniversary and you can keep it without renewing. Shrewd cardholders keep the card in a sock drawer until renewal time. Acting with emotion can be expensive.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 1:32 pm
  #10  
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Perhaps this thread title should be "Delta has peaked, and here is why."
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 1:52 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by PupManS
I flew RNO-SLC-JFK today (a Tuesday afternoon October 10) Booked 8 days out it was a Q fare (read, expensive) and there was 1 J seat available for sale at like $2900 each way SLC-JFK. No thanks.

In SLC I stopped by the Sky Club and it was not a line outside, but still QUITE packed, at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I stress again, a Tuesday, historically the deadest time of the week for air travel. In October, which is usually a slow month. SLC in general was VERY busy.

The JFK-SLC departed with me, a DM / Reserve / Business traveler / MM at #7 on the upgrade list. There were no upgrades to J and one upgrade to C+ that I think was a no-show. A full flight that went out with a lot of standbys not boarded on a Tuesday.

Despite all the devaluation and nonsense, DL is selling the heck out of airfares on full airplanes, driving a ton of volume through a fortress hub. On Tuesdays in October. I think its overly restricted capacity on their end (less premium seats and smaller gauge compared to competitors- if this was UAL theyd be flying a 777 SLC-JFK on a hub-hub route with a lot of premium seats). But Im sure the margins are terrific.

Historically I have tolerated the rather crappy SM program because Delta was just a better airline and when it hit the fan, as a DM, you got taken care of. In the last few months that has NOT been the case, and despite it all, they are selling the heck out of everything.

In my case I usually do RNO-LAX-JFK; despite the extra 500 miles or so Ive found it much more resilient - a lot more flights on a lot more airlines on both segments so I can always make it home whereas Ive spent too many nights stuck in SLC, but in this instance the schedule won out.

The challenge is, Im not a hub captive, but switching is painful even for me. B6 isnt year round, UAL REALLY likes to route you through Denver (which is basically the same drawbacks at SLC- near monopoly on each leg limits flexibility) as their LAX connections are less frequent, Southwest (with whom I maintain A-List mostly for personal reasons) is, despite good people, NOT GOOD when it hits the fan over there. And AA- just no. Same drawbacks as UAL, plus a LOT more.

Other options are constructing weird routings flying LUV or DL or B6 RNO-LAX and then United LAX-NYC. But that will blow up in my face too.

I think it will take a travel downturn to actually turn Eds head off of this course he is on. Because its printing money. And given how resource constrained they are on planes, staffing and otherwise (Eds fault, but spilt milk at this point) squeezing harder does make business sense. They will walk back some of the recent changes of course, but still, were going to get squeezed until there is some demand destruction. Or maybe the FTC gets serious.

Le sigh.
In an industry where you can get bailed out by the government or credit card companies and survive a pandemic where you can't fly and people still spend money on your credit cards, it's no surprise that DL wouldn't be concerned with "Getting away with it" over the next 10 or 20 years. Another subject for this post would be "Here is why DL's changes make sense to DL and will work", as much as many people on here (rightfully) disagree or find them distasteful.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 1:55 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by beachmouse
As fun as it would be to go all stumpy feet and totally cut all activity with Delta and their credit cards, unwinding a relationship is more often a slower process- the vast majority of people who are unhappy with the changes are going to go ahead and fly tickets already booked- most folks dont buy a fully refundable ticket so cancelling just gets you an eCredit to be used on another Delta ticket and all. Moving spend around on credit cards isnt instant for most folks either- its been a couple of weeks since the announced changes and it was only yesterday that I sat down and changed over a couple of autopay bills from my SkyMiles Platinum card to my new Everyday Preferred card.

I think you dont really start to see any impacts show up until 1Q 2024 if theyre going to show up. And with an even bigger drop in 1Q 2025- if people know theyre going to lose a benefit, theyre probably going to ride that horse while it lasts even as they strategize the next step for when status and lounge access runs out.
People who primarily have DL Reserve/AMEX Platinum cards for lounge access have little reason to cancel right now, given that they will have lounge access throughout 2024. Of course, I would expect to see more significant cancellations in the second half of 2024 (when people renewing their cards would only be paying for a half-year or less of lounge access) or first half of 2025 (when the lounge access disappears). And I would strongly expect DL/AMEX to have incentives to get people to stay at that time.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 2:15 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by PupManS
4pm on a Tuesday afternoon. I stress again, a Tuesday, historically the deadest time of the week for air travel. In October, which is usually a slow month. SLC in general was VERY busy.

The JFK-SLC departed with me, a DM / Reserve / Business traveler / MM at #7 on the upgrade list. There were no upgrades to J and one upgrade to C+ that I think was a no-show. A full flight that went out with a lot of standbys not boarded on a Tuesday.
Originally Posted by ND76
Today was like Monday in a normal week, in that yesterday was a federal holiday.
I was thinking the same, though I wouldn't say it was exactly like a Monday since it is not a holiday for many businesses (e.g., the stock exchanges were still open).

Originally Posted by steveholt
People who primarily have DL Reserve/AMEX Platinum cards for lounge access have little reason to cancel right now
Not sure how unique I am, I have both and I certainly have no reason to keep my DL Reserve once I get my $30k boost in a month or two, I'll downgrade it to a Gold card (it's a business account, so there's no free option).
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 2:21 pm
  #14  
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The challenge with all this (admittedly personal) is that AA is higher risk for me. And for a lot of people because they are very core hub dominant.

From my home RNO AA flies to DFW and PHX. Seasonal to ORD. But I value consistency.

DFW and PHX are both basically fortresses. Leaving NYC you are often delayed; it's how it is. When I fly DL to SLC (or in the past ATL) and misconnect- it can get ugly. Not a lot of frequency and very high load factors in these places IMHO.

The west coast hubs (LAX and SFO, LAX especially) have higher frequencies on more carriers. Slightly longer trip, but much more RESILIENT, and on the longer transcontinental you get a better service offering (for instance on DL I am in PS, which is just as nice as any standard F seat on any carrier). And worst case from SFO I can just drive home if I have to (and have done that).

If AA would connect me to their LAX hublet I would get a lot more serious about it. But with DL and UA having stuck me in SLC and DEN, respectively, more than once in the last year, I'm just very hesitant to connect in these areas. PHX has better weather so maybe less of an issue. Could try that I suppose.


Originally Posted by guv1976
That's true, but if one has status with AA or AS, you still get free checked baggage and free MCE on a Basic Economy fare. You do lose refundability (i.e., credit towards a future flight) and earn fewer miles.

And, of course, even the $225 Main Cabin fare is cheaper than what DL is offering that day.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 3:04 pm
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I am DL Platinum out of TPA. Almost never get upgraded TPA-ATL. When DL used to fly the 767 on the routes, upgrades came. When the downsizing occurred, there is always a HUGE list for upgrades to F and C+. Luckily I get C+ at time of booking, otherwise, would never get upgraded. Been like this for years, even prior to the pandemic. Add on everyone wanting to travel now the pandemic is over and I think you have some artificially high travel volumes.

A big issue with the glut of Diamond and Platinum elites stems from DL rolling over miles / $ for a couple qualifying years due to lower travel during the pandemic. Downsized fleets mean fewer seats, combined with an artificial glut of high level elites has led to HUGE waiting lists for upgrades. Add on all the people who have a co-branded card and you get crowds in lounges too.

While nobody can predict the future, here's what I suspect will happen:

Travel demand will start to stabilize as the 'revenge' travel from the pandemic wanes. Not sure if / when business travel will get back to it's old days due to the number of work from homes and virtual meeting options out there.

Elites numbers will thin out naturally due to the rollovers ending. That will be exacerbated by the actions undertaken by DL in September.

If we see a drop in travel due to a recession, or some other major disruption, DL is in real trouble.

I'm sitting at 850k lifetime with DL and will never hit million miler due to the recent decisions. Between the old CO/NW and DL post merger, I've gotten over 1.5 million split between UA about 650k and DL with about 850k. I have been loyal to DL for a long time now, as I was with CO/NW back in the days, frequently going out of my way to fly a DL route.

After the recent decisions, It's obvious now that a flier like me is meaningless to DL. It's all about what have you spent with me lately. Forget about my many years of loyalty. I think DL will be very surprised at how many people like me there are, not huge, but consistent spenders, and how much of an impact the loss of our loyalty will have. Time will tell.

Funny, Ed talked about rolling back some changes, but so far no progress there. I doubt anything will get rolled back and while DL is a better in-air product than either UA or AA, I'm no longer going to give DL my business. I'll tough it out on the other airlines where at least my miles can get me a decent J award to a far-flung destination at about 10-20% of the cost of a DL award.
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