Starwood And Delta Air Lines Announce ‘Crossover Rewards,’ Joint Loyalty Program Benefits

crossover rewards delta and starwoodThere’s news this morning of a new partnership called Crossover Rewards that’s forming between two juggernauts in the travel industry. Starting March 1, Delta Air Lines and Starwood will be sharing some benefits from their loyalty programs, meaning members of SkyMiles and Starwood Preferred Guest will soon be able to enjoy perks extended to their partner program without earning status on the other side.

Shared benefits vary by the level of elite status but will not include the entire spectrum of perks. Delta Platinum and Diamond members, for example, will be allowed a late checkout and free Wi-i, but will not get complimentary room upgrades. Similarly, SPG members will enjoy a free checked bag, priority boarding and priority seating, but will not get upgrades. In both programs, booked travel will earn points for each loyalty account.

The move aims to target loyalty members from a different market sector and hopefully entice them to bring loyalty to another program. Simply put, this is an easy way for each brand to target highly profitable and highly loyal customers at low risk, so it’s an easy partnership to forge.

This isn’t the first time that loyalty programs have teamed up for earnings. Hilton Hotels has been using a double dip program in HHonors for several years where loyal travelers can allocate a part of their earnings to an airline mileage account.

Unique to Crossover Rewards though is the elite benefits that are being shared. Under this program, even if the Delta Platinum has never set foot in the same city as an SPG property there are still benefits to be collected. It’s a great incentive to loyal travelers and a savvy move by Delta and SPG. Hopefully the other carriers and hotels catch on.

[Flickr photo via Ed Yourdon]

Delta Air Lines Changes Mileage Program, Budget Travelers Lose

The announcement came quietly last week, amid bigger, louder clamor over another airline’s new branding. Delta Air Lines will be changing its mileage program for the 2015 status year, and in a very big way. Coming up, passengers will soon be required to spend a minimum amount of money on the airline per year in order to reach elite status. So, for example, for one to reach Platinum status, it will soon be required to earn either 75,000 miles or 100 segments and spend a minimum of $7,500 on the airline per year. The full qualification table pulled from Delta’s announcement is below





























This change shouldn’t be a surprise for regular travelers. Skymiles has been eroding for several years now, and this is the next step in completely trivializing the program. Options for low-cost mileage redemptions have nearly evaporated, and many passengers are holding onto stockpiles with nothing to buy. One disgusted passenger on the forum Flyertalk puts it this way:

“[Delta]… rarely has the seats to begin with. It’s of such limited utility to me that anytime I see even the most mundane 25,000-mile award within the U.S., I’m tempted to grab it.”

Delta’s spin on the change, for their part, is that they need to make room for their most valuable customers. From their release last week, they state:

“These changes are a result of considerable research that we’ve conducted including conversations with hundreds of customers, many of whom expressed a desire to see the Medallion program truly target our best customers”

Delta would never release data on the ranks of their Skymiles program, but this suggests that their stables may be bloated with elite (and thereby costly) travelers and that they need to be thinned. It makes reasonable business sense: reward the travelers who spend the most money on the airline.

But what about the budget traveler? Delta is effectively moving its focus to high-paying passengers with this change, and budget travelers – some of whom are the biggest fans of the airline – will be left in the cold.

Proof will come when the budget travelers shift their business away from Delta and the costs of running their elite program drop over the next two years. If elite ranks stagnate and the frequent fliers keep coming, the airline can move forward with a smaller, more robust and profitable mileage program. And if membership spirals down to a handful of deranged loyal fliers, they’ll know that their mileage program is officially dead. In the end, that may have been part of the plan.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user redlegs21]

Outtakes From Delta Air Lines’ New Safety Video

Late last year you may remember that Delta Air Lines produced a new on-board safety video. It was a replacement to the now-famous Deltalina video, updated with new hosts and a dash of humor. Widely applauded by the community for balancing light-hearted content with informational rules, several versions of the video are now in place among the 722 aircraft in Delta’s fleet.

As a bonus, this time the airline also collected the scraps from the cutting room floor for a series of outtakes and bloopers. The deleted scenes include plenty of line-reading errors as well as a few goofy scenes cut from the main video for one reason or another. Take a look at the exclusive video above.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers Just One Way To Give

Salvation Army bell ringersSalvation Army bell ringers located at shopping malls, grocery stores, airports and other locations, not just in the United States but around the world, are a sure sign that the holidays are upon us. The red kettles fill with donations that provide millions to help the Salvation Army continue its mission year-round. But holiday giving does not have to stop with a quick donation while passing by a Salvation Army bell-ringer.

The Salvation Army needs to have the ability to move their personnel quickly in time of disaster. They provide travel for those in need of emergency medical care outside of their area too. To help with those transportation needs and reduce administrative costs by providing travel for Salvation Army staff members, airlines are helping with programs of their own.

United Airlines Charity Miles Program has partnered with the Salvation Army since 1999, allowing frequent fliers to donate miles from their United Airlines Mileage Plus account to any of their nonprofit partner organizations. To make a minimum donation of 1,000 miles to the Salvation Army, call United at 800-421-4655 and request that your Mileage Plus miles be transferred into the Salvation Army’s account.

Annually, United Airline customers donate more than 268 million miles through the program.Delta Airlines’ Sky Wish program works in a similar way. Any Delta frequent flier can email with their name, SkyMiles number, SkyWish charity name, donation amount and telephone number.

Delta makes it easy too, enabling us to choose from a variety of charities including Canine Assistants, a non-profit organization, which trains and provides service dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs.

Public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten. In the UK, the Salvation Army has made a big effort to help the homeless, as we see in this video:

[Photo Credit- Flickr User dananthony11]

Airports Add Free Power For Electronics, Vehicles

free powerUsing free power to charge electronic devices before boarding a flight is a popular activity. Airlines and airports know that and are adding more charging stations all the time. The same goes for electric vehicle travelers who might drive to the airport. As more environmentally friendly cars hit the streets, airports are adding charging stations for them too, also a complimentary service.

“Delta’s addition of power stations at airport gates has been cited by PCWorld magazine as an important aspect of travel and improving the customer experience,” said Wayne Aaron, Vice President, Marketing Programs and Distribution Strategy at Delta Airlines in a Travel Daily News article this week.

Delta is adding at least two power stations per gate power in 12 additional U.S. cities before the end of the year including Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Denver; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Houston Intercontinental; Kansas City, Missouri; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Orleans; Ontario, California; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and Syracuse, New York.

“Customers today are savvy travelers who bring their smartphones, computers and tablets with them,” says Aaron. “Providing a power source they can use before they get on a long flight helps them do what they need to do in the air, whether for work or pleasure.”Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations are becoming more plentiful too. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is typical of airports with charging stations where spaces are reserved for electric vehicles only. Each station is capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously with 240V connectors. There is no fee to use the stations, but regular parking rates apply.

ChargePoint is the largest online charging network in the world, connecting drivers to charging stations in more than 14 countries. ChargePoint service plans are compatible with charging stations from any manufacturer and yes, they have an app to find stations close by, make, view and cancel reservations. As they pass through security, at the gate or in the air with their Wi-Fi connected devices, users can view charging stats while their car charges and get notification when fully charged.

[Flickr photo by gillyberlin]