Yesterday, I received an e-mail introducing the Delta SkyMiles Select program. Delta loves to “bundle” goodies at an alleged “discount”, and here’s another one. So does this $59 bundle even warrant consideration? Scott gave us his take, that SkyMiles Select basically represents a giant waste of money. For the most part I agree, though I do see some circumstances where it might make some sense.
Delta SkyMiles Select – The Basics
Delta describes SkyMiles Select as “a bundle of travel benefits with a $100 value”. Of course, the hook is that you receive this $100 of value for “just $59”. The benefits of the program include:
- Main Cabin 1 boarding for the member plus up to 8 others traveling on the same reservation
- Eight drink vouchers, valid for one year from issuance
- A “limited-edition bag tag” to “showcase your SkyMiles Select membership wherever you go”
You must have a SkyMiles account to purchase the subscription, but otherwise, it’s open to everyone. Note that per the terms & conditions, a SkyMiles Select subscription does earn Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
Analyzing the Value of the Individual Perks
The most interesting part of the deal (and that’s not saying much) are the drink coupons. If you place no value on anything else, this essentially gives you 8 alcoholic drinks at $7.38 each. That’s – OK I guess? It does represent a modest discount (9-19%) over regular pricing, which ranges from $8-9. If you view this as a prepaid beverage package (think cruise lines), it’s not bad. BUT, keep in mind that many Delta-branded Amex cards provide a 20% discount on inflight purchases. Thus, if you have a card, the vouchers effectively have no value. Or really, negative value, because you’re paying more than you otherwise would.
As for Main1 boarding, I can see some value there if you typically buy Basic Economy fares. Main1 at least provides a realistic possibility of securing bin space, which makes it worth a few bucks, I guess. I’d call Delta’s claim that it offers value of “up to $15 per leg” a stretch, though. Plus, you’re really just getting to your middle seat in the back by the lav a few minutes earlier. Again, if you have a Delta credit card, this provides no benefit over your existing priority boarding.
As for the bag tag? Well, if you’d pay real money for that, I’ve got a certain bridge I’d like to sell you.
A Potential Unknown Wild Card
One question remains unanswered, though, one that could change the value proposition somewhat. Does the Delta SkyMiles Select fee qualify for the Amex travel credit on the Gold and Platinum cards? Amex declares “upgrade” fees to Comfort+ or First Class ineligible. But fees for preferred seats, checked bags, priority boarding, and in-flight purchases do count. I suspect SkyMiles select falls under the latter; however, there’s no way of telling until we see some data points from real purchases. Assuming you can use the fee credit, since Amex killed the gift card workaround, well, here’s a potential use. 8 free drinks beats nothing, assuming you can fly at least a few segments on Delta.
Delta SkyMiles Select – The Verdict
For the most part, I don’t think Scott is terribly off base. Delta SkyMiles Select feels like Delta trying to convince you that there’s a pony in that big pile of you-know-what somewhere. For anyone who has status with Delta, or has a Delta-branded Amex, just keep on walking. And personally, if I want free booze, I’m with Scott, I’d rather just buy up to Comfort+ and get the extra legroom, too.
But, there are some limited circumstances where it maybe makes sense. The first is for Basic Economy flyers. You might actually get to keep your bag on board. And you can drown the sorrows of your middle seat by the lav with a free drink. (As and aside, I disagree with Scott when he says Basic customers won’t spend the $59 on prepaid drinks. Trust me, I’ve seen first-hand how many BuzzBalls Spirit sells on board. Just because someone’s
cheap price sensitive doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate discounted drinks.)
The second is as a potential use for a now much-more-difficult-to-use Amex airline fee credit. If it’s going to go waste, 8 free drinks is something, at least.