Monday, August 4, 2008

Delta has a new three-tier award system.

Delta flyers, rejoice! To hear the airline tell it, the decision to go from a double-tier system to the new three-tier system that allows you to redeem miles for travel is a dream come true.

Under the old redemption plan, flyers could either redeem 25,000 miles on a virtually empty plane (i.e. very limited availability for these tickets) or 50,000 miles for miles of a largely full plane. The new plan, which I'm sure everyone has clamored for, changes those tiers to 25K, 40K, and the new 60K level, which comes into play depending on when and where the flight is booked.

Much celebrated is Delta's promise that this new, highest tier will again allow you to book the "last seat" on a plane, meaning that there are no capacity restrictions for this level of redemption.

But if I sound overwhelmed, it's with good reason: several other airlines, including United and Continental, allow you to book that last seat at 50,000 miles. And forget about a free ticket; Delta decided in July to put in place a "fuel surcharge" for award tickets, which runs $25 for domestic flights or $50 for international travel.

Whatever Delta's propoganda department wants to put out, this change has nothing to do with giving customers options. Delta has been handing out miles like candy, and there aren't enough seats to go around.

At least you won't be paying $2 for water with the U.S. Airways crowd. But then, that fee may or may not get collected anyway.

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