Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – October, 27 2006

Randy Petersen's Opening Remarks – October, 27 2006

I suppose I shouldn’t get all worked up over the following since it does not effect me. But I am worked up and it involves Delta SkyMiles again. As some of you will recall, I was none too happy with them as they went back on their word about miles that never expire. And as of this December, the old grandfathered miles of the Frequent Flyer program will join the newer SkyMiles (more on that in InsideEdition). Their word is an ad they ran on national TV-the Super Bowl no less-in which they stated with no fine print that their miles will never expire.

Okay, so my team lost that year, but their latest move simply points out again that this airline may not be trustworthy. Heck, I love my SkyMiles and have supported them through their tough times. But I’m starting to question whether any loyalty exists in Atlanta any more.

Case in point: For some years, SkyMiles members have been told that their SkyMiles will be valid for a period of three years during which certain types of activity can extend those miles for another three year period, in essence, as long as you have some sort of activity over a three year period your miles will never expire.

Okay, now comes news they want to change that. They want to move to a two-year period of expiration. That is their privilege and they apparently have some plan to make life simpler for all of us. On their Web site they state their goal: “We plan to make the SkyMiles program easier to understand and award seats easier to redeem.” If changing their expiration policy will help achieve point two of this plan, then they have our support and attention.

But the way they are going about this leaves me angry. They are saying, “Effective Dec. 31, 2006, miles will expire after two years without any account activity (e.g. earning or redeeming).” Again, if they deliver on their plan I can live with this change and suggest all our readers can as well. My problem is this: They also go on to say “Mileage balances of members who have had no SkyMiles activity within the last two calendar years (2005 and 2006) will expire on Dec. 31, 2006.” Excuse me. Did not Delta just say that effective Dec. 31, 2006 that miles will expire after two years without any activity? Then why, oh why are they as well retroactively expiring the miles of those members with no activity over the PAST two years when these members have been lead to believe all along that they had three years?

I just don’t understand how anyone in that organization, from the legal counsel to the administrators, can look at this situation and be proud of themselves. To earn loyalty from the passengers of Delta Air Lines, you first have to champion that loyalty. Would it really have been all that bad to let these members live out what it was they were first lead to believe? Again, I have absolutely no problem with the change — going forward as they say.

This apparent mistake had to go through a number of staff in the Delta organization and they all apparently are too blind to note the issue of fairness or they are so far gone with running loyalty by the numbers. I am almost positive that they will say “The decision was made not to extend the current rules to these members because we don’t have the capability to manage anything more than two years of expiration after Dec. 31. And this applies to such a small number of our members that we thought it would add additional confusion.” What do you think? Have I read enough of their press release to know how they talk?

All I would ask of Delta is to remain fair to those members who are within their current three-year policy of maintaining a Skymiles account.

Now, on to other topics. This particular issue of InsideFlyer won’t portray the changes that are taking place behind the masthead here at InsideFlyer-that will take a few more but let me give you some idea as to my giddiness in the months to come. Within a week last month, I lost both my managing editor and research director. Jeff had been with us for five years almost to the day and Elicia was much newer but gaining on trying to figure all this out.

The changes were for the right reasons for both of them, a hardship case on the family farm in South Dakota and a change in lifestyle for the other. And while the job market is fairly rich for journalism types, the learning curve for understanding the topic of miles and points is a daunting one. But out of the blue two former employees reentered my radar and both eagerly rejoined the madness we call frequent flyer programs. First of all welcome back to Lynda Young who was one of my original managing editors in the early 90s and who served us all well when she opened up our London office and lived in London for several years as we covered the spreading globalization of frequent flyer programs. And we welcome back Brigid Dines, researcher and writer extraordinaire who we lost several years ago when her husband took a military transfer to Europe. Just back in the states, we connected within days and she is back where she belongs. Both employees are among the very best we’ve had and I look forward to their contributions to both you the reader, and myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *