So Delta has put together a chart comparing their status levels to other programs’ status levels, which is rather misleading, to say the least. First of all, any airline that thinks it’s the best in everything (according to a chart like this) is full of it. Second of all, I find it interesting that US Airways is missing. Not that I really consider them to be all that much of a competitor, but they do have a decent elite program and they are a legacy airline.
Anyway, let’s go through these one by one:
Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades for All Elites
Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades on Award Tickets*
*Will be implemented for members in the first quarter of 2010.
Fair enough, although comparing your program in the first quarter of 2010 to other programs as of September 10, 2009, seems a bit unfair.
No Co-Pay on Any Upgrade
Conveniently they leave out the fact that only the top three fare classes can be upgraded on Delta, while that’s not the case on any other airline. Also, they say all of this is true as of September 10, 2009. On what fares does United have co-pays as of that date?
Complimentary Systemwide Upgrade Certificates for Top Elites
Yes, they put themselves in the same group as American and United, but conveniently leave out that you’re paying close to full fare if you want to upgrade internationally with Delta, while you can buy a $500 ticket to Europe on American and upgrade.
500-Mile Minimum per Flight for All Customers
50% EQM and Mileage Bonus On Top Three Coach Fares
Fair enough, although most other carriers offer a 50% EQM bonus for the top two fares.
Rollover Elite Qualifying Miles*
OK, now this is where it gets really fun, where Delta claims they have “the best redemption options,” which is single-handedly Delta’s weakest point (and very few people are crazy enough to dispute this).
Three Distinct Levels of Award Availability
While it’s true that Delta is the only carrier with three tiers, it’s laughable that they are trying to market this as them offering “the best redemption options.” The middle tier has basically become the equivalent of the low tier at all other programs.
Combinability of First / Business / Coach Awards
Ability to Pay With Miles
Fair enough (for those crazy enough to use that redemption option).
Extensive Merchandise Redemption Program
Expanded Award Seat Availability for All Elites
And conveniently they leave United out of that group, since United does offer extra coach award inventory for 1K’s.
Four Published Elite Tiers
Please help me understand how this results in “the best levels of service.”
Anyway, I’m just not a fan of these types of charts. I’d much rather they add a few categories where they show they’re not the best (like most other programs with a similar chart do), instead of pretending they’re the best in everything. Here are a few of the things I’d love to see added to the chart:
- Lounge access for mid-tier elites flying internationally, which American, Continental (as of October 27), and United offer
- One-way awards, which American offers
- Three cabin first class alliance award redemptions, which all the other carriers offer (starting October 27 for Continental)
- First class lounge access when traveling internationally for top tier elites, which American offers
- Confirmed regional upgrade instruments for top tier elites, like United offers
And those are just a few of the things that come to mind.
I’m not meaning to rag on Delta, but they’re asking for it. From calling the combined SkyMiles/WorldPerks loyalty program “best in class” to this chart, I feel obliged to opine.