Posted on December 3rd, 2014
Sixteen years or so ago, when I really started traveling lots for work, I actually kind of enjoyed it. I was seeing new places... meeting new people... experiencing cool stuff... it was a whirlwind of wonderment that made life fresh and exciting.
After a few years the excitement wore off (as it was bound to do) and I had gone from "Yay! I get to go to Milwaukee!" to "Argh. Milwaukee AGAIN?" But I still enjoyed it. The more miles I traveled, the more perks I got as a frequent flier. Travel had become a chore, yes, but not a terrible one. I got bumped to first class most of the time. I had access to private airline lounges. I had premium support problems popped up. Free handjobs in the first class lavatory.* The list goes on and on. Unlike the horror story most people experience when traveling, mine was a fairytale.
For the most part.
I mean, yes, there were delays, lost luggage, missed connections, and spending hideous amounts of time away from family and friends, but it was mostly better than a poke in the eye.**
But then the perks started to fade away.
I can't pinpoint the exact time they began vanishing... I want to say five years ago... but I honestly don't know because it seems like forever.*** I can, however, tell you when they died out completely.
That would be today.*****
For me at least.
After Delta Airlines decided that the amount of time you spend in the air with them didn't mean shit compared to how much money you spend... my days were numbered. I always fly the cheapest fares I can find out of obligation (to my day job) or necessity (for my charity work) so my importance to Delta went from being huge to practically zero. It didn't help that Delta started screwing over their partner airlines by making it so that you earn way less miles (or nothing at all) for non-Delta flights.******
And that was just the beginning. It seemed like Delta was devaluing their frequent flier program more and more with each passing week. So I switched my mileage plan from Delta to Alaska Air at the beginning of the year. Meaning this is my final year as a Delta Platinum (and former Diamond) flyer. And given how expensive it is to fly Delta now... and how little I get in return... this will be my final trip with them as a willing participant. From now on I fly Delta only when it's my only option left.
Which means next time I need to go to Portland, Maine like today (a city that Alaska Airlines does not serve) I'll instead be flying to Boston, Massachusetts (a city they do serve) and taking a two hour drive up the coast. I may not have huge status with Alaska Air, but they seem to value the time I spend with them a bit more.
And so on.
Which will be fine... until Delta buys out their SkyTeam partner Alaska, which is obviously their goal. Delta is adding so many flights out of Seattle that pretty soon you'll be able to fly direct from Seattle to Peoria. It's their way of squeezing Alaska out of their very own hub city, and Delta is getting pretty ruthless about it.
Oh well. It will be good while it lasted.
Delta must think so too, because this was my upgrade status flying out of Seattle this morning...
Missed it by this much.
My thanks to the many, many, many Delta employees who took such excellent care of me all these years. You will be missed. Though I'll still see you from time to time. Alaska Airlines doesn't service Amsterdam, for example, so I'll probably see you again in the Spring.
When I'll be earning a pathetic 50% of miles flown now.
Damn. Shouldn't we have Star Trek transporters by now?
* I may be exaggerating about the free handjobs. But I did get warmed nuts and free alcohol, which is almost the same thing.
** Unless you're a person that likes getting poked in the eye, then it's better than a Justin Bieber CD.
*** Not literally forever. I'm trying to be illustrative here. More like the time it takes to get through the line at the DMV.****
**** Also forever.
***** Actually, it's probably more like next Thursday... I'm getting ahead of myself here.
****** Even when purchased through Delta! For my trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos last year, I flew Delta "SkyTeam" carrier Korean Air. At the time of my reservation, I was told I had to pay a higher fare in order to get any miles credited to my account. So I did. Then they changed their mind and said I'd be getting no miles at all. It took a month of arguing before they gave in, and even then they shamed me for making them do it... even though they made me pay extra for exactly this purpose.
Posted on January 18th, 2013
I fly a lot.
And flying a lot means that I get benefits and privileges which help to make my constant flying suck less. I've laid it all out here before but, in summary, it involves things like First Class upgrades, early boarding, free luggage allowances, etc. etc.
For as long as I've been flying, these perks have been earned by flying a certain number of miles within a airline partner program. For example, to earn "Platinum" status with the Delta SkyMiles program, I have to fly 75,000 miles. That's pretty easy for me to do, because I can add up the miles from Delta, Alaska Air, Korean Air, Air France, or any other SkyMiles partner airline.
But all this changes in 2014.
In order to qualify for Platinum status with Delta I not only have to fly 7,500 miles, but I ALSO have to spend $7,500 on Delta flights that are in my name as shown on the following chart...
Which means none of the money spent on Alaska Air, Korean Air, Air France, or other partner airlines means shit (well, unless they are Delta-coded flights, and most of the ones I fly are not).
The upshot of all this is that I'm fucked.
I don't spend $7,500 on Delta flights because Seattle isn't a very big Delta direct-flight hub, which means I will be lucky to make Gold status in 2014.
UPDATE: After complaining about the "Million Miler" changes (which I talk about below) to a Delta rep, I was told that the $2,500 does not apply to Million Miler Silver status, and I would enjoy Silver benefits no matter how much (how little?) I would spend. I sincerely hope this is true, as it really is the right thing to do... but the below information was posted to a frequent flier forum after another SkyMiles flier had asked a Delta rep, so I dunno which is true. I guess we find out in 2014.
But the bigger problem for me is when I reach Million Miler status... probably in 2015. Once I fly a million SkyMiles, I get permanent Silver status, which I was looking forward to using in my later years when I'm not flying as much. But now that permanent Silver status ain't worth shit unless I spend $2,500 each year. And that probably won't be happening when I've retired and am living on a fixed income.
Which means the goal I've been working towards for decades is now practically useless.
Over the years I've flown with Delta even when other airlines were cheaper because I thought I would be rewarded for my loyalty down the line. My million mile payday. But companies just don't give a fuck about their customers any more. The only thing they give a shit about is how much money they can squeeze out of you right now. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Delta screwed me... that's all companies do any more.
Now we get to sit back and wait for all the other airlines to follow suit.
They are, after all, companies too.