Delta Leads the way in Dismantling Annoying Big Carrier Fare Rules
By Kent E. St. John
Senior Travel Editor
With the Cincinnati "SimpliFares" program, which was rolled out in
August, Delta Airlines reduced the number of fares per flight to two in first class and six in economy. It also slashed the highest fares.
For example, the airline reduced the old full walk-up fare to Los Angeles to $499 from $1,202. It also eliminated the Saturday night-stay requirement on flights out of Cincinnati. Now it's open to the rest of the US! As predicted by Time Magazine, GoNOMAD and others, all of the majors are matching Delta, and this is great news for all travelers!
The airline also cut ticket-change fees from $100 to $50, it was reported in Time magazine in December. The changes won't necessarily mean cheaper fares for everyone. Instead, the plan is to streamline fare prices so they won't fluctuate as much, the reports said.
SimpliFares are not the first time Delta has shaken up the industry. In what was considered a major move, Delta was the first US airline to put commission caps on travel agencies.
In retaliation many agencies refused to issue Delta tickets. Soon the other airlines followed suit and the Travel Agency business changed forever. You may also remember that Delta was the first US airline to completely ban smoking on flights. That trend was also followed.
The Bane of Business Flyers
As a travel agency owner, I'll never forget how loudly business travelers complained about the Saturday night stayover rule. Now that Delta has pulled this off, the other carriers have followed suit. And it means that Delta is seriously going after the business travelers, who many of us might have assumed no longer were as active as they will be in 2005!
Gerald Grinstein, Delta's CEO, said one of the things they want to avoid is people talking across the aisle about how much more one person paid than the other. That's not good for business! We all know that this kind of chatter makes people angry when they find out how much more the flight cost them than the other guy.
Delta recently borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from American Express to keep flying. That makes the mileage if you buy tickets with an AMEX card that much better!
Arlines often pull back on announced price cuts if their competitors don't follow suit, but not this time.
There was no public reaction yesterday by the other airlines making up the "Big Six" — American, Continental, Northwest, US Airways and United.
New Service too
Besides the pricing changes, Delta is adding new service from several destinations, including Kennedy Airport, where the airline is offering more flights to North Carolina, Florida and Pittsburgh. In December, Delta reached an agreement with its pilots that will cut wages by 30 percent. Like the unhappy campers at US Air, there was not much they could do to stop the slide.
Delta is also proving to be thinking not just on corporate moves but in humanitarian ones also. Delta is donating one million Skymiles to be split between three charities involved with the Southeast Asian Tsunami relief. It also has set up a site for Delta Frequent Flyers to follow suit. Members can contribute miles to CARE, UNICEF or the American Red Cross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The miles will be used to send relief workers to the affected areas. There is currently a 5000 miles minimum donation in place. For more information on donations go to delta.com/skywish We heartily approve Delta’s swift action.
Visit ourKent E. St. John Page with links to all his stories.
Max Hartshorne GoNOMAD Editor,
live on CNN Tuesday January 4, 2005