What began as one of the most compelling changes to the role of partners and frequent flyer programs looks to be coming to an end very soon. It began in June 1988, when MCI partnered with Northwest and began offering miles for telephone service. Over the years that followed, MCI purchased more than a billion dollars worth of miles from a variety of frequent flyer programs.
Now it appears MCI’s tenure as the king of all telephone partners may be grinding to a halt, no doubt driven by the tenuous situation that WorldCom finds itself in. Already two major programs have “de-listed” the participation of MCI as a telecommunications partner, though no official announcement has been made. Delta SkyMiles has noted that existing members will continue to earn miles until Feb. 28, 2003. The program has not set any announcement for a new telecommunication partner, though AT&T is thought to be an early leader to replace MCI (AT&T was once a partner of Delta SkyMiles when it was know as Delta Frequent Flyer). United Mileage Plus no longer features MCI as its telecommunications partner and is also likely entertaining pitches from AT&T as well as Sprint. Where this will all end is anyone’s guess, though it wouldn’t surprise us to see MCI out of the mileage business entirely by years end. As this story unfolds we’ll provide you with the advice you need to maximize new sign-up bonuses and where the right decisions to make miles from your phone calls are likely to be.
Note: Don’t be surprised if other telecommunication companies like Verizon (Can You Hear Me Now?) try to make a run for this big piece of the pie. Surely AT&T and Sprint are likely to be thinking the same thing and will more than likely try to lock them out.