Delta Boeing 747-400 tail seen from a Dreamliner – Photo: David Parker Brown
This week, Delta Air Lines announced a major change to their Skymiles frequent flier program, while many in the industry speculated was coming. The changes to the Skymiles program will see an end to their current (and, some would say, traditional) points earning process, to now be a revenue-based model.
Similar to airlines like Jetblue, Southwest, or Virgin America, it no longer comes down to how far you fly, but rather how much you spend.
As of January 2015, Delta will move from a “1 mile flown = 1 point earned” model, to a new revenue-based system where for every dollar you spend on your airfare you will receive 5 points (though they are still using the term “mile” for some reason). As with the current program, the higher your elite status, the more miles you get as a reward. By using a co-branded Delta credit card, you can earn yourself a few extra points as well.
But we wanted to share our opinions from both the perspective of a miles and points junkie (Mal) and someone who doesn’t really care about miles (David).
Delta unveils special “Spirit of Seattle” livery on a Boeing 737 in Seattle – Photo: Delta
There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about Delta Air Lines. They have been doing many good and smart changes, a few not so good things, and some crazy things that makes me wonder what the heck is going on. I wanted to take a look at the last few month (and maybe a bit beyond) to try and figure out what Delta has been up to.
If you wind the clock back a few months, what Delta was up to seemed to make a bit more sense than they do now. Expanding their west coast presence was a good thing. Turning the Los Angeles to San Francisco route into the equivalent of the Delta Shuttle on the west coast was smart. Adding more services to Seattle to turn it in to a new focus city is good as well, but also a little crazy. Why crazy? Well, Delta is partners with Alaska Airlines and it seems the two of them have decided to publicly show their competitive side, while still trying to be “friendly” towards frequent fliers.
Delta flight 2014, the final scheduled DC-9 (reg N773NC) flight, pushed back from the gate at MSP – Photo: Chris Spradlin
It was a cold day in Minneapolis, the coldest in decades. Despite the bitter temperatures, spirits were high at Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport (MSP) as Delta Air Lines was preparing to operate their final scheduled McDonnell Douglas DC-9 flight. As the aircraft touched down after the first flight of a two-leg ceremonial routing, the sendoff began and the DC-9 would soon be history.
A small gathering of Delta pilots, flight attendants, and tech ops were on hand to say goodbye to an old friend. A banner commemorating the DC-9 was hung on the wall for all to sign as passengers and employees indulged in the decorative DC-9 cakes. Before boarding, a ground operations employee shared some final thoughts about the DC-9, slipping up and saying “on behalf of Northwest Airlines,” which really sums up the history of the DC-9 at Delta.
Born 48 years ago, the DC-9 has outlived many other fleet types since its introduction with Delta in 1965. The DC-9 was once before retired from the Delta fleet in 1993, but was introduced again in 2008 after the merger with Northwest Airlines. Northwest also inherited their DC-9s via a merger, this time with Republic Airlines in 1986. The airframe which operated the final flight, N773NC, started its life with North Central Airlines in 1978.
Say hello a freshly-painted Delta Boeing 717! Photos: Delta Air Lines
Two months ago a number of folks broke news that the much-anticipated Delta Air Lines Boeing 717-200 had finally started showing up in reservation systems. For aviation enthusiasts, it’s an exciting time when an airline brings on a new aircraft type, especially one like the 717. The 717 holds a special place in many hearts for a number of reasons, chiefly because it’s an ultra-modern descendant of the Douglas DC-9s and MD-80s which have a cult following with pilots and AvGeeks alike.
In 2011, Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran, a 717 launch partner who also happened to fly the largest fleet of 717s in the world. Aviation enthusiasts questioned whether Southwest would go against their all-Boeing 737 business model that had served them so well over the decades. Much to the surprise of many aviation industry analysts and insiders, Southwest announced they would indeed incorporate the 717 into their fleet. However, those plans never came to fruition. In 2012, Southwest and Delta announced a sweetheart deal which would allow Delta to take possession of the former AirTran birds, allowing them to retire a number of older DC/MD variants and giving Southwest the ability to maintain fleet uniformity.
After digging around on Delta.com, I confirmed the first scheduled 717 flight was supposed to be 2343 on 9/19 from ATL to EWR. I had already booked a mini-vacation to the NYC area for that weekend, so the timing simply could not have been better. I almost canceled my outbound leg and booked this flight instead…almost. Understanding that new equipment is often subject to last minute changes, I decided a call to Delta was in order.