When you look at the trends we’ve seen among legacy carrier loyalty programs the past couple of years, I think it goes without saying that Delta SkyMiles has been a trendsetter. Almost all of the changes have been negative, but there’s no doubt that Delta has been “innovating,” and other carriers have been following their lead.
Early last year, Delta announced that they would be adding a spend requirement for status, whereby you basically have to spend an average of 10 cents per mile (pre-tax) to qualify for status. There were a couple of ways to get around this, like having a SkyMiles account registered at a foreign address, or by putting $25,000 of spend on one of their co-branded Delta American Express credit cards. United quickly followed suit.
Then this year Delta announced something truly radical among legacy carriers. Starting next year Delta will be awarding miles based on how much you spend on a ticket as opposed to how many miles you fly. While United seems to be copying everything Delta does, interestingly this is one area where they haven’t followed suit quite yet.
Meanwhile I’m not surprised that American and US Airways haven’t matched either of these changes yet. That’s because they’ll likely be announcing a combined program next year, so there’s no point in making too many individual changes before the programs merge (which is why I was kind of thrown off by their changes last week).
Anyway, it seems that exploring these options isn’t limited to the “big three.” Admittedly some low cost carriers already have revenue based frequent flier programs, but it looks like Alaska is also at least considering it as well.
They’ve sent out a survey to select Mileage Plan members, which in part offers the following scenario:
Most interesting is the last section:
Elite Tier Status
Now all of the points you earn through flights, in-flight services, Alaska Airlines Visa spending, or partner spending will apply toward Elite tier qualification. Elite members enjoy great benefits such as seat upgrades, earning bonuses, priority security lanes, and early boarding.
And then they also seem to be exploring which benefits members value the most:
Anyway, nothing even remotely conclusive here, but it’s pretty clear that Alaska is at least exploring the possibility of a revenue based program…