When I was in the 7th grade I met my friend, Andy. One of the first things Andy and I ever experienced together was a youth trip sponsored by my church, to go camping. He and I had signed up to go on a canoe trip down a beautiful TX river. On the day of departure, we were told that our two traveling partners were two of the cutest high school girls we’d ever seen! WOOT! It was the best of all possible worlds, a weekend on the river with my best friend, two new potential hot new girlfriends, camping outdoors, nothing could ruin it; UNTIL…
We met Reid early that morning in the church parking lot. He was assigned to be our chaperone and driver. He wore coke-bottle glasses, drove a rusty old ’69 station wagon, wore a Speedo, and had an old canoe strapped to the roof of his car with the words “Wonder Hog” painted on the side. All the way to the campsite, he dominated the conversation with tales of his canoe racing victories; he sung along with Johnny Cash in a low, loud monotone voice; he droned on and on about the stout nature of a good old fashioned car… In short, he took over the conversation and left all four of us kids staring out the window, in tears.
Northwest Airlines has dubbed their merger effort with Delta as, “The Best of Both Worlds.” As a Platinum flier with NWA, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the announcement of the new benefits and rules that will affect us weary frequent travelers. I knew it would happen… any time two giants come together, it’s the little people who suffer, right? Still, I held out hope that the last people in the world NWA and Delta would want to alienate would be the people who faithfully purchased at least 35 round trip tickets per year. They wouldn’t do that; not in a million years! UNTIL…
I’m sure the “powers that be” that represent the best fiscal interest of these two airline giants had quite laugh over the irony. Consider their motto, “The Best of Both Worlds,” and while you’re tucking that up into the temporary memory space of your brain, consider that when you sit down and compare the benefits of the NWA frequent flier plan to the benefits of the Delta frequent flier plan, they chose the WORST of the two worlds (as far as the consumer is concerned) every single time! Sure, it’s the “Best of Both Worlds,” for THEM! Here are some highlights:
- Delta had “Close-in” fees (a fee assessed for having the gall to book with less than 72 hours notice), Northwest had no such fees for their frequent fliers. What’s the new “Best of Both Worlds Benefit” then for Silver, Gold, or Platinum members of the NWA/Delta merger? They’ll be charging close-in fees, of course. Be prepared to pay $75 each the next time you use your frequent flier miles to attend a funeral…
- Delta allowed 3 checked bags for elites, Northwest allowed only 2 free bags. The new benefit? Only 2 checked bags.
- Delta had a three-tier award system for those trying to redeem their miles. Their highest tier (1st class round trip to Australia, for example) was much more expensive than Northwest. Meanwhile, NWA had a two-tier system and their highest tier costs significantly less miles for travel than Delta. NWA fliers won’t be happy to learn that they’ll soon be using the three-tier system with much higher “high” level redemption costs.
- Northwest Platinum fliers got 1,000 bonus miles when not upgraded to first class. Delta didn’t give you squat. Now, all Platinum fliers will get squat.
- Delta offered companion upgrades for companions traveling with Platinum fliers, on high fare classes and at the lowest priority. Northwest Platinum Companion upgrades were allowed from any fare class any priority. Not anymore, of course.
My relationship with NWA is being tested right now. I guess it’s just too much to expect a major corporation to give a measure of respect to its loyal customers of so many years. Meanwhile, thanks to Facebook, Andy and I are still friends despite a territorial gap of 1,273 miles. He’s welcome in my house anytime, no matter how many suitcases he wants to bring… as long as he doesn’t wear a Speedo, like Reid!