It seems that the era of frequent flier programs as the world knows them may be coming to an end. Delta Air Lines just announced that it is making changes to Sky Miles, its rewards program for frequent fliers. Instead of this program favouring passengers who fly the most miles, the program will favour travellers who purchase the highest-priced tickets. According to experts, this is just the start of it. Other airlines are likely to follow suit as the industry pushes travellers to spend more.
This big shift has pretty much killed Sky Miles for the average traveller. Now, the program only really benefits the big business travellers who are still flying first class. The truth is that most of the big business travellers book flights on very short notice. As a result, they do not have time to hunt for bargains like a lot of leisure travellers. As a result, business travellers will be rewarded for the fact that they are spending more.
According to Delta Air Lines, this new shift will take place next year. The company will start giving customers free flights based on the amount of money they spend on tickets. The way the program is currently set up, customers earn free flights depending on how many miles they have flown; it does not matter what kind of ticket a person purchased. Someone in coach is earning just as many miles as someone in first-class.
Although Delta Air Lines is one of the first United States airlines to make this change, other airlines like United Airlines and American Airlines are likely to watch consumer reaction. If people seem to like it, expect to see other airlines offer the same kind of service moving forward. On top of that, other airlines in the world might start adopting the same kind of policy if it turns out to be effective in America.
This announcement by Delta Air Lines should not be a huge shock to travellers. Nearly a year ago, Delta Air Lines announced that all passengers who spend at least $2,500 will qualify for an elite frequent-flier program. Perks that come with this elite status include free upgrades or no bag fees.
Some airlines around the world already reward passengers based on money spent and not miles flown, such as JetBlue and its True Blue frequent-flier program. The only other programs in America that reward travellers based on money and not miles is the Rapid Rewards program from Southwest Airlines. With so many airlines already offering this service, it is pretty easy to speculate that this new change to reward programs is not going anywhere any time soon. So for travellers looking for free trips, it is time to break out the wallet and spend some big money.