Southwest Eliminates Award Charts

Discussion in 'Southwest Airlines | Rapid Rewards (w/ AirTran)' started by MX, Feb 13, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    As some bloggers reported (e.g. Frequent Miler here), Southwest is following in Delta's footsteps and dropped its award charts effective 04/17/2015. Anyone willing to speculate what travelers can expect from the coming lack of transparency?
     
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  2. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    I think WN fixes the value of the award by a fixed number of points per dollar of a ticket, so it's not like they had much of a "chart" to begin with.

    Not liking the recent lack of transparency for award pricing though.
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Correct, though the current (until 17 April 2015) version has fixed rates in each of the three fare families. The new policy will have those rates plus a variable and unpublished premium added if the company feels like doing so.
     
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  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    So basically, from the customer's perspective it is now pretty much like using https://www.random.org
     
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  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Yea, I'll speculate...

    The yanking of the award charts enables the pricing of award tickets to be truly dynamic, just like the pricing of revenue tickets. Charts are static and are thus an impediment to dynamic pricing. The two cannot coexist without major headaches for everyone, but especially for the carrier. Therefore, the demise of the award chart and, hence, of transparency is the clearest signal yet that WN and DL are moving to where the number of points/miles required for an award would vary dynamically in direct proportion to the number of revenue tickets the carrier expects to sell. It sort of makes sense: when you are not selling very many revenue tickets is when you'd like to fill the plane with people on award tickets, so price these cheaply; and when you are selling many revenue tickets is when you'd like to discourage people from redeeming points/miles for award tickets, so make it [too] expensive to redeem.

    Based on the above and what WN just did, there is little doubt that DL is moving to a fully revenue system, on both the earning and redemption sides of points/miles...
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
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  6. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    WN award prices have always been variable, and based on market demand. Do not confuse them with the fixed value legacy charts. However, Southwest limited the ratio of dollar to point prices to 3 categories (i.e. the dollar value of points). That part is going away. The future value of points may be changed at Southwest's whim with no notice.
     
  7. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I am not sure that we are saying different things. The award prices were variables because the ticket prices were variables not because the worth of the points varied. The categories had a fixed point to $ value. Now they have pulled that chart so that the ratio of point to $ can be anything, but more likely is that they'll make it favorable when they wish to encourage redemption and make it unfavorable to discourage redemption...
     
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  8. Lifelong Pilot

    Lifelong Pilot New Member

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    Historically, Southwest built loyalty with their easy and predictable Reward Coupons, as they built their system network. It was a HUGE success!! I believe they finally looked at their Reward liability ($'s) and figured they could gain complete control and reduce their Reward liability by the Points system they have recently implemented. My concern is their new points methodology is s***wing their most loyal base of flyers - frequent business flyers, especially small business flyers. Have you seen the "cost" of a Reward flight when booked a few days advance? It's insane robbery! I predict business flyers will wake up and shop other airlines. Sure, SW flies to many destinations, frequently, but for flyers who have to make short advance decisions, other airlines now cost a lot less than SW in many cases. Two remaining perks are still great: Companion Pass and Free luggage. SW stock is very profitable, but there's two ways they could still cut their costs. sssssh, don't tell them.
     
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  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    But that's not what the business travelers are redeeming for.

    I took ~4-6 r/t flights from NYC to BNA last year on AT or BS fares because they were all purchased within 7 days of travel. I earned WAY more points than the old coupon system would have granted me and now can redeem for personal travel at WGA levels to a spectacular return.
     
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  10. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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  11. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Enough theory. I just redeemed on WN again and in my case at least, there's no comparison to DL SM robbery. I booked this itin (short-haul W-Coast one way) before April 16th but then had to make a change last minute on Monday - the evening prior on a LAX service. I did so online, in a hotel lobby in fact, in three minutes. In spite of this last minute change, the points/taxes were identical and I received an equal exchange. No issues, easy to change, no problems checking in at the airport, all exactly as advertised. Even managed a B30-ish boarding position.

    The lack of grief and hassle is a major plus for WN and as legacies cut their FFP and reduce access to their F cabins, they bring their overall biz travel product more inline with WN's product. There's going to be a clear winner when that happens. We're already seeing it to some extent from the other side in that WN fares that are usually reasonable but can no longer generally be called LOW. I notice from the non-sale fare levels for W Coast routes I fly that WN are also beginning to benefit from the existence of the new US air travel cabal and so it might be up to operators like NK and F9 to exert real market pressure.
     
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  12. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    I'm always amazed when I check some routes on short notice, usually short and non-stop and see fares well over $300. I do get some competitive fares well in advance but its clear that WN has the same pricing strategies as everyone else. I get the feeling that for last minute fares its probably lower cost to fly one of the random big boy carriers. I'm sort of surprised that people keep flying them at those prices. Maybe they just have their customs trained to use their website..
     
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  13. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Perhaps so, there are plenty of WN loyalist kettles, but it's not just about customer training. Look at the recent WN advertising campaigns. I don't detect emphasis on low fares as much as smiley service (which was true on the two sectors I flew last weekend), free wi-fi (a good benefit), two checked bags (likewise) and changeability of tickets. Those aspects of WN product are now premium features. Compared to what is becoming the norm of E- and non-status travel on OAL's, WN actually does offer a PREMIUM Y service. It is positioning itself as such and can charge accordingly.
     
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  14. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    A blogger mentioned that today's sale includes points, I checked on an Oct reservation and saved about 3k points out of 25k on a quick flight to Chicago from DCA. It may just be that three weeks ago it was not on sale and now it is - or it could be dynamic points, but regardless it saved a bit on an expensive short nonstop. Looked at a July 4th reservation to STL and it was a few k more than prior.

    The moral is check your itineraries to see if its cheaper during sales and rebook as needed.
     
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  15. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    @iolaire, a good point. That's another huge benefit of WN RR - nobody needs any status to execute a free award change. In fact, I did exactly that as described above and I should have included that chageability as one of the benefits. Especially because on legacies that's a top-tier benefit (you have to be 1K on UA; EXP on AA; or PM/DM on the mejor en su clase airline for comparable waiver).
     
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Just like all the others for the past few years. The points are still tied to fares. Not necessarily 100% lock-step but still tied to them.
     
  18. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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