Months ago I called on Delta to rip the bandage off SkyMiles already. This week, they did, and that bandage was hiding some ugly stuff. Gary just posted some eye-popping mileage requirements for SkyMiles in the new “dynamic” world. His example was for west coast to Australia travel. Being the resident Atlantan on Boardingarea, I thought I’d do a little poking around for trips originating closer to home.

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Yes, that’s 605,000 miles each or 1.21 million total for MrsMJ and I to fly our hometown airline from our hometown airport to Sydney next summer. Granted, I did find a few other options in the 400K each range, but the million mile award trip is new territory. Needless to say, we won’t be flying to Australia next summer, at least not on SkyMiles. In fairness, I don’t really want to go to Australia in June 2016, but as one of my old bosses used to say, “geez-a-frickin’.”

(ETA: As commenters Jason and Ron note below, I found some 350K inventory when I searched today. The itinerary I found above is now pricing at 1.1 million for two people)

On the Other Hand

I did find a handful of domestic coach itineraries at 7,500 and 10,000 miles each way. Anecdotal evidence is that there are plenty more markets out there with availability. While a lot of us would understandably say BFD, there is another side of the story. A greater number of U.S. airline customers want to redeem domestic coach tickets than those that want business class to Australia. This is a big reason why Southwest is the biggest domestic airline with a revenue based loyalty program that ranks highly from average travelers. That alone is why predictions of the end of time and the end of Delta thanks to changes in the mileage program are likely overblown. In short, the percentage of travelers who have really maximized these programs to the hilt is small…..smaller than you think….smaller than the most enthusiastic of us want it to be.

Last year I stated that the airlines had moved on and maybe we should too. Loyalty should be a two-way street, but it isn’t. Take the one-way loyalty program that benefits you and be loyal to yourself. Flexible currencies and cash are where I’m focused. For the handful of times a year MrsMJ and I fly somewhere together, I’ll buy a first class ticket (yes, more likely than not from Delta) with the money I’ve saved from refusing to chase the elusive airline rabbit any longer. Believe me, if I land in November just shy of the next status level, I’ll do what it takes to make it the rest of the way. Big credit card bonus with miles I have a proven use for, sure thing. But making a habit out of mileage running and making myself crazy over an airline mileage program just for the sake of it, no thanks. Done. Flame away.

-MJ, July 17, 2015