Bold Prediction: Delta Announces SkyMiles Devaluation 8/1

So this is total speculation, but I predict tomorrow 8/1 Delta will announce a devaluation to Delta Skymiles.  There has been speculation amongst the bloggers that revenue based awards system is coming.  Gary Leff gives a nice synopsis, here.

Basically the rub is that Delta as part of their continued devaluation of SkyMiles, will change their awards system to one that gives awards fully correlated to revenue spent, not just “miles earned”.  This will take away the aspirational redemption values of business class flights.

Well I am trying to ticket an award ticket with Delta today.  The ticket hold expires tonight, so I need it done ASAP.  Well the agent said the SkyMiles system is down, and will hopefully be back up in another hour or so.  I have a feeling, given that it is the end of a month, and this devaluation is expected to be announced anytime, that the system is down so they can upgrade their systems into production for the devalued revenue based awards system.

We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we.  In the interim, hope that Delta gets its current system up fast so I don’t lose this award ticket on hold!

Aeroflot Enforcing Married Segments on Award Tickets

Everyone knows Delta Skymiles are difficult to redeem.  Aeroflot remains one of the partner airlines that has decent availability on flights to Europe.  I am working on an itinerary now for my parents, and searching Aeroflot availability had confounded me.

The Wandering Aramean has developed a great search that finds Aeroflot availability.  I was using this to look for flights to and from the USA to Russia.  Their first stopover is to be St. Petersburg.  So I used the Wandering Aramean’s search, and saw this availability:

Decent availability JFK to St. Petersburg

Decent availability JFK to St. Petersburg

“J” stands for business class, and “Y” for coach.  So for the 2PM departure on September 10, there are 3 business class seats from JFK – SVO and 2 from SVO – LED.  That is awesome, right?  You can just call Delta, spoon feed them these segments, and *poof*, you have them in there.

So after searching like this, I called Delta and tried to book this.  I gave the agent JFK – SVO, and he said there was no availability.  I said surely you must jest, sir, as I have it direct from the source, it’s available.  So I went back to the Wandering Aramean’s site, which is an accurate reflection of Aeroflot’s offerings, and sure enough, to my horror, this is what I saw:

Where the hell did all the availability go!?

Where the hell did all the availability go!?

So for the same day, typing in JFK – SVO gives one economy class seat on the 7PM flight, and all the other flights have zero availability!  I hung up, discouraged, and started freaking out about computer glitches, other people booking the space, etc.  The crazy part was I looked at multiple dates, and its as if the availability has just disappeared.

After a couple hours of thinking on it, I tried the search again, typing in JFK to LED.  Sure enough the availability was there.  So I realized that Aeroflot is giving away the availability only on flights with connections.  So JFK – SVO, no availability to book.  But JFK – SVO – LED, decent availability.

I called Delta, and was able to get these flights on hold as part of a 100,000 mile award ticket!  Woohoo!

Moral of the story: Aeroflot has better availability if you are connecting somewhere!

Odds of being killed by a terrorist: 1 in 20 million; Odds of being legally executed by the government: 1 in 80,000 – source: Government

Yes, that is right.

A report put out by the United States’ National Safety Council in 2009 tracks the risk of death for various activities.  Based on their research, roughly 1 in 80,000 Americans will be legally executed by the government.  This includes the dozens of death-row inmates, and Americans killed by police.  Of these killed by police, are those accidentally killed by police through botched raids, incorrect warrants, or misunderstandings.

Based on the number of Americans killed by Terrorists in the last 15 years, your odds of dying by Terrorism is 1 in 20,000,000.  Who should we really be fearing?  The Terrorists, or our own Government?

Who should we really fear?  Terrorists or our own government?

Who should we really fear? Terrorists or our own government?

Because of our fear of Terrorism, foisted on us by all branches of our government, the media, and the elite establishment, we lose so much freedom when traveling.  The TSA is an unconstitutional restriction to our natural rights to travel freely in public.  Sadly, even conservative thinktanks are cheering on the TSA for rolling out “Pre-Check” to those that apply.  For a set of fingerprints, and $85, you can petition the government to get back the kind of security screening you had 6 years ago before the Nude-O-Scopes.  From the Heritage foundation:

Beginning later this year, all U.S. citizens will be able to apply for the program online, which will require applicants to undergo a background check, provide fingerprints, and pay a registration fee of $85 for a five-year membership. Until now, travelers could join the program only if they were members of select frequent flier programs or other trusted traveler programs.

We go through all the hassle with TSA, security checks, letting them do these things to us, all to alleviate the 1 in 20,000,000 risk that a terrorist might get us.  Is the trade-off for security at the expense of liberty really an exchange that is worth making?  Imagine if the government took away all our liberties in the name of security.  We might have more security, but we would have no liberty.  That would be a miserable place to live.  It already exists today, it is called prison.  And even there security is an illusion.  Each day inmates are assaulted or killed.  So even if the government took away all our rights for the name of security, we still would not be totally secure.

Stand up to the TSA, America.

Where did all the points come from?

When folks ask me about the Trip of a Million Lifetimes, they usually say, you and Lady Tocqueville travel almost 100% for work, that must be where all the points came from.  For our hotels, this logic is mostly correct.  I had over 1,000,000 Marriott points, Lady Tocqueville over 200,000 and we each had about 200,000 SPG points.  For some of our Hyatt resumptions, we used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points earned by a credit card, since neither of us stay at Hyatts.

But believe it or not, we barely touched our miles earned butt in seat for the flights!  Yes, 600,000 airline points, and none of it came from our current balances.  We have roughly 600,000 airline points between various airlines, but we did not use this.  We have this on reserve for future trips.  Below is the breakdown of how we churned through credit cards the 600,000 airline points needed.

As the conclusion of this post points out, we had 3 (well really 4) separate tickets each to make our jaunt across the world.  This chart reflects the 4 tickets and the origin of the points.


Chart breaking down points earning

Chart breaking down points earning (click for full size)

Basically, between my wife and I, we opened and closed 6 credit cards for a total bonus of 330,000 points.  We had another 150,000 come through from spending we had done over the last year on our work business cards.  We traded for 80,000 points, and had 40,000 existing.  It took us about a year to do all the opening and spending, and fortunately we were in the process of getting married and moving in together, which helped facilitate some of the spend.  The 6 cards we opened (and closed) were the:

  • American Airlines Citibank Visa
  • American Airlines Citibank Mastercard
  • American Airlines Citibank Small Business Amex
  • American Airlines Citibank Small Business Amex
  • American Express Small Business Gold, and
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred

I don’t have referral links for these, although View From the Wing, One Mile at a Time, or Points Miles and Martinis usually has the most up to date bonus offers.

So for those of you thinking of taking that dream trip around the world, start early and hoard those points!  Maybe you can take your own Trip of a Million lifetimes.