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Delta’s loyalty program continues to evolve. This week, members of SkyMiles received some mixed news from the airline on the future of their program. While the airline spins the changes as mostly positive, in reality there’s a mix of good and bad news for the consumer base at large. And for all of the upcoming changes, little is quantified in terms of volume and execution.

On the positive side, Delta heralds a two-fold increase in “low-cost” mileage tickets of 7500 miles on short-hop flights. They’re also increasing the number of upgradeable fares to be less restrictive, which could be a huge boon to premium travelers.

More ominously, however, the airline also foreshadows some higher costs to frequent travelers. The costs upgrading those future tickets are still unclear, and many read Delta’s announcement as a forecast for more expensive and less transparent SkyMiles.

Deltapoints paints the changes as a full-scale devaluation.

Gary at View from the Wing complains that Delta isn’t even giving its customers enough information to understand what’s changing.

Lucky over at One Mile at a Time perhaps puts it best: “The ‘bad’ changes should come as no surprise. The writing’s been on the wall: Delta is moving over to a dynamic pricing system for its SkyMiles awards. I suspect United will be announcing similar changes in, oh, as long as it takes their in-house PR department to rapidly type up a new press release.”

Social Quote of the Day

‏@mashable @delta At the start of these changes I was a platinum flyer on Delta. This year I *might* make Silver. Loyalty goes both way.

– @MadNorskie



Analysis: Consolidation of U.S. Airline Industry Radically Reducing Competition: The wave of consolidation that swept the U.S. airline industry has markedly reduced competition at many of the nation’s major airports, and passengers appear to be paying the price in higher fares and fees, an Associated Press analysis has found. Read more at Skift

British Airways’ Leads With Passenger Experience in New Dreamliner First Class: What do you do when you want to reinvent a premium cabin entirely, to fit the futuristic feel of a state of the art aircraft, and appeal to today’s tech-savvy traveller? Read more at Skift

Airline Ticket Prices Drop, Cutting Into Spirit Airline’s Only Advantage: Spirit Airlines Inc. fell after the budget airline cut its forecast for operating margins for the rest of the year as pricing pressure from other carriers weighs on revenue. Read more at Skift

European Commission Approves Aer Lingus Takeover by British Airways Parent: The European Commission on Tuesday cleared the takeover of Irish airline Aer Lingus by International Airlines Group after securing measures to address competition concerns. Read more at Skift



Cancun Airport’s Expansion and Success Is Good News for Stock of Owner: Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SAB rallied to a record as June traffic growth bolstered by an expansion in Cancun attracted a buy recommendation for the Mexican airport operator. Read more at Skift

These Major Airports Are Bringing Travelers Closer to God One Layover at a Time: Sixty percent of the largest U.S. airport hubs host dedicated chapels, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center. Read more at FlyerTalk



Skyscanner Makes A Play for Japan With Yahoo Japan Joint Venture: Looking to expand in Japan, the world’s third largest travel market, flight-search engine Skyscanner and Yahoo Japan announced a joint venture, and they plan on contributing a relatively meager $2.5 million to kick things off. Read more at Skift

Loews Hotels Ad Campaign Uses Guests’ Instagram Photos to Refresh the Brand: As lifestyle hotels sprout, older luxury brands strive to breathe new life into their marketing campaigns to stay relevant. Read more at Skift

New York’s Taxi Medallion Business Is Hurting, Thanks to Uber and Lyft: Cabbies aren’t the only ones feeling the heat from Uber Technologies Inc.’s incursion into New York City. Their lenders are, too. Read more at Skift

3 Stats That Forecast the Rapid Growth of In-Flight Connectivity: SITA’s Airline IT Trends Survey reveals that 66% of airlines will offer passengers more wireless choices in-flight by 2018, compared to only 28% today. Read more at Skift



Kimpton Hotels Is Maintaining Its Brand Values, One Social Media Post at a Time: As travel brands join more conversations on social media, being casual and keeping the brand identity and values intact has to be more fluid. Read more at Skift

How Hotels Are Turning Top-Tier Loyalty Status Into an Experience: A funny thing happens when you’re so wealthy that currency doesn’t matter anymore. Read more at Skift

Robots Do All the Work at New Japanese Hotel, Or That’s the Plan: From the receptionist that does the check-in and check-out to the porter that’s an automated trolley taking luggage up to the room, this hotel in southwestern Japan, in Sasebo, aptly called Weird Hotel, is “manned” almost totally by robots to save labor costs. Read more at Skift

Standard Hotels Takes Stake in Hip Texas Hospitality Group: The Standard Hotels, owned by hotelier André Balazs, purchased a 51% stake in the Austin-based Bunkhouse Group of hotels, which might seem a little random to hospitality fans unfamiliar with the Texan properties. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Alright, credit where due: JetBlue’s new series of Flight Etiquette videos are both well-conceived and well-executed. Hats off.

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