Airlines and hotels devaluing their miles is nothing new. What’s scary is that they’re no longer giving notice. We’ve all heard someone senior to us say that things used to cost less, everything really. It happens over time, but when it happens instantly, it’s an entirely different issue. Going to purchase something, which has always been one price, only to find out that it’s now more expensive, after years of planning and saving, is a huge problem and it’s growing…

Delta, Hilton, American Airlines, Marriott, Etihad, Air France, they’ve all done it. Perhaps it was just a change in the terms in conditions, maybe a little (large) bump in how many miles you’ll need, what category your hotel falls into, but they’ve done it. Making changes to a program without informing members of the pending move is something one could expect from a shifty used car dealership, but from major brands, with billions in revenue, sharp ad campaigns and a non stop “thanks for being loyal” sales pitch, you deserve more. You have choices.

Delta up and removed its award chart, or rather, the description of how many miles you’ll need for a free flight all together, Etihad changed the mileage for every flight without notice, Air France restricted certain flights to certain elite flyers, it’s no longer a “one off” affair. It’s a trend. In fact, loyalty programs of all kinds have successfully argued that member’s best interests are not the focus of the program, and terms and conditions may change at any moment. I think any devaluation is bad news, but compared to current trends, the six month notice on American Airlines and British Airways’ major changes seem like real courtesy. 

Here’s the fundamental issue. Loyalty programs are not burdens, with free money floating around. They are incentive tools to encourage future purchases, loyalty and to add value to travelers decision making process. Losing trust and a perception of value will always keep me from flying an airline or sleeping in a hotel. Transparency is key, it’s just missing right now…

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