profchiara

Sinkholes - Loyalty (for real people) no more

Discussion created by profchiara on Mar 1, 2014
Latest reply on Mar 3, 2014 by stelzer001

In view of both the horrific changes Delta has made for 2015 and the ones Marriott made last year, I am questioning all loyalty programs.  (And there have been a lot of sinkholes that swallowed up houses and cars lately which gave me the title.)  I'm starting to see loyalty programs -- most of them -- as sinkholes.  I have been a Delta cheerleader, Platinum Medallion Elite Plus member for many years, Skymiles member for about 40, and my travel is not cheap since it's all international. Even with my Amex Skymiles Reserve card (which will also go by the wayside if Delta does reconsider and I've used up all my miles and am no longer PMEP), I pay a hefty $450 a year, though the lounge access free is the key ingredient.  It's currently now cheaper -- or will be -- to have a SkyClub membership through the Amex card (if you're alone) than it is to buy access.  But somehow I am pretty sure that will change.

 

I don't think the grass is greener with other loyalty programs, airline or hotel.  That is why if I'm at an airport or in a new country for the first time, I'm still likely to stay at a Marriott.  But I am not going to be staying there for the points, and may even book it on one of the travel sites.

 

I think all most of us assumed because of the length of the FF and Hotel Loyalty programs that they'd always be there.  I think most of the hotel chains were the canary in the coal mine that gave us an early indication that wasn't so when they started changing things a few years ago.  Airlines had started making changes but they were more incremental and less obvious (at least if you were a high elite).

 

I think I only have 68 Marriott points left.  I still have 200,000 FF miles after booking over 400,000 for my five business class trips to Europe this year.  (They are cancellable without fee -- at least this year -- within a three-day window, so if things look like they could possibly change, I can always cancel and book a coach ticket and continue to get miles.)

 

I know from a revenue standpoint this is smart business for the airlines (maybe it was for hotels too, though now I am so happy with independent hotels I won't go back), but smart business has many components.  And when you start really attacking your Platinum and Diamond members (or their equivalent) who pay about $15,000-$20,000 a year and have an Amex card (which let's face it, subsidizes most airlines) in favor of the short haul last minute business travel who pays top dollar (or rather their company does), there will be backlash.  I could not have imagined even thinking I'd ever leave Delta.  But it could happen as soon as next year.  I might try going straight to KLM or Alitalia or FlyingBlue and see if they match for a period (EU rules may prevent such enormous changes), but otherwise I may let tripadvisor, trivago, or kayak plan my trips.

ProfChiara

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