Tag Archives: Delta Air Lines

Cashing in frequent flier miles – how likely are you to get a seat?

Frequent flier miles are great, but they’re becoming increasingly more difficult to cash. The 2nd annual ezRez Reward Seat Availability Survey by IdeaWorks Company found low fare airlines fare best when it comes to redemption of frequent flier miles.  However, U.S. airlines fall short compared with worldwide airlines.

In the U.S., Southwest Airlines took the top spot. It was behind GOL, a low fare carrier in Latin America. Still, Southwest did well earning a score of 99.3%. That means Southwest had two reward seats available on the outbound and inbound flight 99.3% of the time for the queries searched.

Interestingly, Southwest is merging with Air Tran and Air Tran was one of four airlines that saw a drop of 10 points  compared with 2010.  Hopefully, the Southwest culture will live on in the merger.

The next American carrier was Jet Blue at eighth place. The difference between the two carriers is the difference between an A and a C. Jet Blue earned a 79.3% for availability. The large, legacy carriers United and Continental ranked 11th and 12th respectively.

“Consumers continue to feel the pinch of a difficult economy. More than ever, they expect a tangible reward for their loyalty to an airline,” John Swanciger, Chief Commercial Officer for ezRez Software said. “Rewards of all types, such as air travel, hotel accommodations, and retail merchandise, are the tools airlines use to fill that expectation. Social media has made the frequent flier world less of a mystery and savvy travelers have a better awareness of which airlines truly reward loyalty and frequency of travel.”

Delta Air Lines and US Airways are the two companies that might give you the most problems booking a reward ticket. Two reward seats were available on both legs of the trip only 27.1% of the time on Delta and 25.7% on US Airways.

One takeaway from this survey is that the U.S. based airlines are not doing as good a job as worldwide airlines. Overseas carriers took eight of the top ten spots.

The survey was based upon 6,720 booking queries made by IdeaWorks at the websites of 24 frequent flier programs from March to early April of 2011. The researchers looked at 20 top routes to see if reward seats were available from June to October.

Last minute reward trips not out of the question
The survey also looked at the number of last-minute reward flights that are available for booking. It’s thought that the industry releases seats at the last-minute. To test that theory, the survey looked at reward seats for travel just 5 to 15 days in advance. Eight queries were made this way on American, Delta, United Airlines, and US Airways.

There weren’t as many seats available as there were when the search was done months in advance, but the numbers weren’t always that different. United had 65% total availability just a few days in advance, compared with 71% months in advance.  Delta actually fared better with last-minute reward booking compared with booking in advance. So, don’t get disgusted if you can’t book that reward trip months in advance. You may get it last-minute, but that could be risky because if you can’t find the flight you might pay top dollar to book that ticket at the last-minute. The bottom line – keep trying to book.

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Check-in for Delta flight on Facebook

Delta is the first airline to allow you to check-in for your flight through a Facebook app called, Delta Ticket Counter.  No need to go to Delta’s website to download or print your boarding pass.

In August, Delta began to offer flight booking through its Facebook app.  The flight check-in is the latest feature for the app.

You’ll also be able to share your itinerary right from the app with friends or family instead of having to email it separately.

While convenient, it raises questions about privacy.  I see people post pictures and daily updates while on the road. While it’s great to update friends on your whereabouts, status updates have been suspected in home break-ins.  Just make sure any app you use truly makes your life easier, and doesn’t post anything on your wall making it easier for criminals to know your whereabouts or know too much about you.

Airline lets you name your price to bump

Delta Air Lines's flagship, the Boeing 777-200LR.

Image via Wikipedia

As I sat at the airport on the way home from visiting family this holiday, I heard an airline announcement over and over asking for volunteers because another flight in the gate area was overbooked.  The deal started rather modest considering the price of tickets for holiday travel. They used to give you a free airline ticket with the first announcement. As a poor college student, I accepted that a few times. Now, there is a dollar price associated with it.

I think travellers are less tempted to bump because the payoff is not worth it. Often it means connecting through other cities, a much later arrival time, and you often don’t get enough money to cover the cost of your flight.

As it got closer to departure time, the airline sweetened the pot, and offered about $100 more. They were desperate to do anything to get someone to bump.

These endless and fruitless announcements may be a thing of the past in the future.  Delta is asking for volunteers when you check in, and you get to tell the airline how much value you put on rebooking.  The consumer names a price, although the airlines says in its blog that the value is based on “typical values offered to customers during the volunteer process.”

Then, the gate agents review the offer and if they accept the offer you are rebooked. It’s a good idea. It may prompt more people to volunteer because they haven’t already been through security and the other inconveniences associated with flying.  With all the headaches that come with flying, it’s hard to find a volunteer at the gate unless a lot of money is at stake.

If you bump with Delta or any airline, make sure you aim sky high.  I’d request  at least the value of my ticket if not more.

Even with this policy, there is still the possibility of involuntarily being bumped. Know your rights if you’re in this situation. Ask for the maximum compensation. If your arrival is delayed 1-2 hours domestically or 1-4 hours internationally, the airline provides up to $400 compensation for that involuntary bump.  If your arrival is more than two hours later within the United States or 4 hours late internationally, you get up to $800.

Delta says it’s rare that a passenger has to involuntarily give up a seat, and that the carrier has the best rate among major U.S. airlines.