|by Jason Steele|
Delta’s SkyMiles are often referred to as SkyPesos as their value is in steady decline. Part of the reason is because they are handing them out like candy, and part of the reason is because their award availability is dismal. While these two conditions are probably two haves of the same coin, there is a third factor that further diminishes their value, Delta’s abysmal online award redemption calendar.
It Has Been A Problem
Delta’s problems, which were well know to the frequent flier crowd, were documented in an article in the Wall Street Journal in May of 2010. The Journal disclosed the result of a study showing Delta as ranking last in a survey of award availability among major carriers. At that time, the article said:
Delta says that award inventory has been too skimpy….”We have listened very closely to our customer feedback with respect to award availability,” said spokesman Paul Skrbec. “In order to have an effective loyalty program, we need to have an adequate number of award seats available to make it attractive.” Starting later this month and through 2011, Delta will be rolling out tools on its website to make it easier for customers to find travel awards, he said.
Translation: “We stink, and our award system is broken, but we are planning to fix it next year.
Delta Announces It Is STILL Broken
Delta has a nice blog where they announce all sorts of new and improved things with their company. Today, Delta announced some new features to their award calendar. Buried in the announcement is this sentence: “Functional award calendar improvements are coming to the SkyMiles award calendar soon. ”
Translation: We added some features, but we still haven’t fixed what was broken.
What is still broken? The first commenter to the blog seems to have summed up their shortcomings nicely:
Please consider the following often requested functionality..much of it that used to be in the old NWA platform that could possibly be reinstated here:
1. Able to see miles needed per segment during multi-city award ticketing, rather then just getting the final number at the end of the booking process.
2. Added partner availability options online. Can/will Delta add back Korea Airlines and other Asian partners for award redemptions oN Delta.com
3. Comprehensive award chart showing milesage redemption from points originating and termination outside the USA
4. Fixing the award calendar display to show LOW level when LOW is selected rather then defaulting to medium or high for various reasons
Number four is the real issue. As it currently stands, LOW awards are almost impossible to find. They exist, but you need to employ all sorts of tricks to find them. There is an entire thread on FlyerTalk that explains how to find LOW award space in their BusinessFirst class.
Until Delta and their IT department get serious about making LOW tier awards actually bookable, you do not have to be a cynic to conclude that Delta is fraudulently giving away loyalty points with the false expectation that they can be redeemed for low tier awards.