Delta Rolls Out Platinum Upgrades For Top Republicans

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by sobore, May 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.wsbtv.com/news/27914705/detail.html

    A Whistleblower 2 investigation has found that Delta Air Lines gave some of Georgia's most powerful political figures campaign contributions that lesser flyers would love to have -- upgrades to platinum or gold frequent flyer status.

    Channel 2's Richard Belcher looked into whether Delta grossly undervalued the contributions.

    Channel 2 consumer advisor Clark Howard said a platinum upgrade is worth $10-15,000 a year, which is far more than Delta's valuation.

    Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and five top legislators were on the receiving end for either platinum or gold upgrades, plus one legislator who's no longer in office. “Platinum medallion! No, way!” said Howard.

    Howard knows those free medallion upgrades are a huge bonus for anyone who's had to put up with air travel's long lines, security checks and add-on fees.
     
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  2. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    I find this a very interesting story. Thanks. I'm still trying to digest the valuation thing. $1,600 value for being Gold member ...
     
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  3. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    Doesn't the actual value depend on how much you fly and where/when you fly? Doesn't the value depend on whether you'd have achieved status anyway? If every other airline also gave them status, wouldn't they each be worth less to the receiver?

    Here on milepoint, we could debate the value of a frequent flier mile for days and not come to any agreement. I'm sure that we could do the same for the value of elite status.
     
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  4. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    True, it really depends on the user. A person who regularly checks bags would get more value from elite status vs. someone who does not.
    A person who arrives last minute for a flight would get more value from priority services vs. someone who arrives early to the airport and has time to kill.
     
  5. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    My guess is that DL probably has to pay tax on this- so wouldn't it be in their best interest to ensure the valuation is:
    a) Reasonable from an auditor/income statement perspective
    b) Not extended out to the "maximum possible value received"?
     
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  6. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I'm guessing Georgia because of ATL. I wonder if this is happening everywhere they have a major hub and whether or not this is common practice for all airlines.
     
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  7. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Most likely the latter. All airlines (or the majority anyway).
     
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  8. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    You're probably right.

    And don't get me wrong, I can see the value of extending status to certain people... could be that they use it to move around quicker and take care of business, whatever. Of course this is ripe for abuse, and there's obviously a problem when you start receiving perks from an industry that you're supposed to regulate.
     
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  9. jmrich1432
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    jmrich1432 Silver Member

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    Good point on the regulation viguera. I'm just trying to figure out how I can get them to offer lowly accountants status :p

    Guess I'll have to make a run for office....
     
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  10. SC Flier
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    A person who regularly checks bags would earn status on their own pretty quickly. So free checked bags can't account for a very big part of the value of gifted status.

    Top politicians could get VIP treatment anyway without it being part of the Medallion program. Frankly, I'd like to know that my top politicians are not having to kill lots of time at the airport when I'd really prefer that they be doing work for the taxpayers. (However, I would also like to know that my top politicians are also getting a decent bit of the TSA experience so that they understand what their taxpayers have to suffer through.)

    I challenge Spirit Airlines to give VIP membership to the same politicians. And while they're at it, why not throw in a free membership to their $9 Fare Club so that they can save some of our tax dollars on their flight prices?
     
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  11. MSPeconomist
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    I don't think it's a matter of DL paying tax but possibly filing forms for the recipient to pay tax.

    The valuation also matters for the requirements that officials report gifts received and restrictions on gifts that are permitted.
     
  12. MSPeconomist
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    I would imagine that many politicians (unless they don't fly commercial, like Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, etc.) would easily earn elite FF status. Many fly back to their families and home districts almost every weekend. They rack up even more miles while campaigning and fundraising unless they only participate very locally (local and some state governments, some members of congress but not the senate and not those who aspire to higher office).
     
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  13. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well I would certainly hope that they're paying for those flights out of pocket, but I know that's probably not the case. And if it's my tax dollars getting them those miles, the miles (and any status associated with them) should come to me instead. :)
     
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  14. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    I wonder if they are flying on government fares that do not include RDM miles? If not, I guess they are the redeemers of the RDM’s. :confused:
     
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  15. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    I know there used to be government fares that did not include RDM miles, but I have not seen any gov't fares not accrue RDM/Elite miles in the time I've flown on gov't fares at least once a year (since 2003).
     
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  16. MSPeconomist
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    I've flown on government fares on NW/DL at least once a year since 1998 and I get both MQM and RDM every time, including elite bonuses. I've been explicitly told that it's government policy/law that government business travellers are entitled to keep their miles, VDB compensation, etc. However, there are lots of rules about carriers, per diems, etc. and many government employees are required to use a specific credit card.
     
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