Skift Take

Delta could work out a solution with AwardWallet and other tracking sites, but the airline would rather limit access to preferred partners and relegate most member engagement to its own websites.

AwardWallet took seven other sites with it, including TripIt, when it turned off its API for Delta SkyMiles last week under threat of legal action by Delta.

AwardWallet itself counts 70,000 SkyMiles members, including 10,000 with Medallion status, all of whom have given AwardWallet permission to keep tabs on their Delta miles, among its user base, says Alex Vereschaga, AwardWallet co-founder and CTO.

“You will be upsetting 10,000 of your elite travelers,” says Vereschaga, who declined to name the seven sites, including some tiny ones in beta, using the API. (Skift learned independently that TripIt and apparently Traxo were among users of the API.)

The AwardWallet API shutoff for SkyMiles leaves a situation where there are the “haves and have-nots” when it comes to SkyMiles access for loyalty tracking sites.

For example, AwardWallet, TripIt, Traxo, and UsingMiles are among the sites with no access (although UsingMiles enables users to manually update their Delta accounts), but has SkyMiles access because it has a contractual relationship with Delta, enabling SkyMiles members to track, trade, exchange or redeem their miles.

SkyMiles members looking for sites where they can track their myraid loyalty programs in one place can also still track their Delta accounts on and Superfly, although perhaps these sites are too small to have stoked the airline’s ire.

AwardWallet’s tech solution

Vereschaga of AwardWallet expresses frustration with Delta over the issue, especially because he feels AwardWallet has a technical solution to the impasse — a browser extension.

Using the browser extension, AwardWallet members would be able to open a new tab in their browsers to navigate to, log in, grab their SkyMiles information, store it on their own computers, and then automatically update AwardWallet pages, Vereschaga says.

In this way, AwardWallet’s servers wouldn’t be taxing Delta’s infrastructure at all as everything would be controlled by SkyMiles members.

Delta claims one of its prime concerns with the AwardWallet API is security, “but truly it is not,” Vereschaga says. “How can it be if [with the browser extension] we wouldn’t have the username and password?”

What’s good for is not OK for AwardWallet

Incidentally, members provide their SkyMiles user names and passwords to to access account information, much in the same way that AwardWallet members were doing for Delta.

Vereschaga says he was unable to explain his idea about the browser extension, which is ready to go, to Delta directly — and he would still like the opportunity — but Delta’s outside counsel wouldn’t allow that conversation to happen.

AwardWallet’s priority is to avoid getting sued by Delta as the defense costs would be prohibitive. AwardWallet previously got sued by American Airlines over the same issues.

“I have never talked to Delta about this,” Vereschaga says. “With American, at least I had some conversations.”

Vereschaga argues that Delta’s stance hurts Delta, SkyMiles members and AwardWallet and its API partners.

“It’s bad for everybody,” Verseschaga says. “Unfortunately, Delta doesn’t see it that way.”


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Tags: loyalty, skymiles

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