Our Air France A380 parked at SFO. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Thanks to Delta, I found a smashing deal to fly an Airbus A380 for the first time, and not in economy! My wife and I were married late last year, but postponed our honeymoon because we wanted to visit Europe during the warmer months.
We lucked out and found a very low fare valid for this past September, from San Francisco to Istanbul, in the Premium Economy section of Delta partner Air France. This would be our first time flying the A380, as well as the first time in decades flying on Air France. I was cautiously optimistic about what flying Premium Economy would be like, and I subscribed to the mantra of, “anything’s better than coach,” or even my flight on a CRJ-200 the day before.
Would I be severely disappointed?
Since the inception of the loyalty program, hotels and airlines have worked together. The relationship has always been more that the hotels just providing you points in the airline program if you stay with them. An announcement by Delta Air Lines last month has changed things considerably.
Delta Sky Priority Check In, now for SPG Platinum Elite members. Photo: Delta
Delta’s SkyMiles program has elite tiers that offer a great range of benefits to their frequent fliers including complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, check in along with much more. Starwood’s SPG Preferred Guest (SPG) program has its own elite tiers that offer bonuses like free upgrades, late check-out or complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel & airline programs have always been similar that they reward their frequent fliers/guests with all the goodies that you want for being loyal.
As of the 1st of March, Delta & Starwood are coming together to create “Crossover Rewards”.
Crossover Rewards allows the Delta & Starwood top tier elite members to get similar benefits. If you are a Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Diamond Medallion member you will be able to get extra benefits at a Starwood hotel including late check-out & Free Wi-Fi access. If you are an SPG Platinum member you get benefits with Delta including a free checked bag, and also priority check in & boarding. The biggest alignment in the programs is the points earning ability.
A Delta Airlines 747-400 – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
Normally if you fly, you can only earn points with one airline or program, the same with hotels. However with Crossover Rewards you get to “double dip”. If you fly with Delta and have the SPG status you get bonus starpoints AND Delta miles. Delta fliers get the same when they stay at a Starwood property.
“Crossover Rewards is another example of Delta’s commitment to making the travel experience more beneficial and enjoyable for our customers,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s senior vice president of marketing. “For our loyal customers, hotel accommodations are a vital component of the travel experience, which makes this new alliance with an innovative company like Starwood a strategic addition to the SkyMiles program.”
But then the relationship goes one step further. During enhancements announced by Delta to BusinessElite services on the prime transcontinental market, there was a separate little announcement that seemed to be hidden in the clutter. As of June 1st Delta will be upgrading its Business Elite bedding product to be based on the Westin Heavenly Bed.
What is the Heavenly Bed? In 1999 Westin (part of the Starwood Hotel Group) launched the Heavenly Bed range and then a year later became the first hotel company ever to sell that signature line.
“Delta is committed to providing our customers with the best possible sleep experience in the skies and we’re excited to partner with another leader in the travel category, Westin Hotels and Resorts, who shares this goal,” said Joanne Smith, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service. “The new Westin Heavenly In-Flight bedding product is just one of the new amenities Delta is introducing to ensure customers achieve a restful, rejuvenating in-flight experience.”
A Westin Heavenly Bed at the Element Times Square West – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
The new Heavenly Bed products will be launched on all BusinessElite international flights, along with the usual long haul transcontinental routes (JFK-LAX, SFO & SEA) & Atlanta to Honolulu. The new inflight product includes a Westin Heavenly Sleeping Pillow & Comforter with “extra luxurious loft” and for flights over 12 hours (those ultra-long haul international flights) will get an extra lumbar pillow as well.
These two announcements bring together a new relationship that could be an industry lead in this area. Is this a sign of the future? Are we going to see other hotel chains partner up? Maybe American & Marriott or perhaps Motel 6 & Spirit.
||This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.
Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.
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