Delta/Northwest Marriage: What Does It Mean?
Should the Delta/Northwest merger go through, the jury is still out on what type of effects it will have on the regular schmoe trying to make his way back home.
Will frequent-flier mile programs change? Will more fees be charged? Will there be less competiton and higher fares out of our area airports?
Let's tackle those miles first. Both airlines are saying that they'll honor each others' miles. Northwest sent me an email last night that read, in part, "You can be assured that your WorldPerks miles and Elite program status will be unaffected by this merger. In addition, you can continue to earn miles through use of partners like WorldPerks VisaÂ®. And once the new Delta Air Lines emerges you can look forward to being a part of the world's largest frequent flyer program with expanded benefits."
In the short run, the merger may benefit those who hold frequent-flier miles in both programs, as miles from both will most likely be combined. Both airlines have been in an alliance since 2003, so there mileage award charts line up fairly closely: 25,000 miles for a continental coach ticket, 50,000 to Europe. Skeptics are wondering whether those requirements will go up when/if the merger occurs. I've been telling readers for some time to use their miles, and that advice stands regardless of whether the merger is successful.
On to fees. Delta is the king of the fees. While the airline didn't start the fee frenzy, it not only jumped right in, but it raised the ante. The airline recently upped fees on everything from unaccompanied minors to pets to luggage to phone ticketing. Northwest also instituted some new fees, but they are generally lower than Delta's. If merger succeeds, I think it's safe to say that the higher fees will go across-the-board.
As for competitition, the two airlines don't compete on many routes out of our area airports. There is no overlap between the airlines on nonstop flights. Delta is more of a player out of our area, with nonstop flights to 15 destinations out of the three airports (BWI, National & Dulles). Northwest offers nonstop flights to eight cities. So there is no obvious market that would suffer in the short run from less competition. But both airlines do serve some offbeat destinations. Will they streamline resources and eliminate flights to such cities as Madison, Wis., and Huntsville, Ala.? Anyone's bet.
What are your concerns about the merger?
By Carol Sottili |
April 15, 2008; 11:12 AM ET
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