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School has started, college football has begun, Labor Day has passed, so the big question is, where is the US Airways Grand Slam? Last year it was first announced via Twitter in mid-August, and then the Grand Slam officially started in mid-September. The Grand Slam promotion has run every year since 2008, and has become a progressively larger and more lucrative promotion each year. Last year was my first year to play, and I blogged about my adventures in the Grand Slam so that others could learn from what was or wasn’t working for me. In the end, I earned about 120,000 miles for my account and spent about $400 above what my normal expenses for travel and purchases would have been during that time period. That is an insane $0.0033 per mile. In other words, 1/3 of a cent per mile. That puts a 25,000 mile domestic round trip award ticket at about $82.50. Of course, not everyone has extra cash to spend no matter how lucrative, but the beauty of the Grand Slam was that you could still earn a few thousand miles without spending a dime. There really was something for everyone.
To help those who wanted to maximize their earnings for a possible 2012 Grand Slam, I even did a series of preparation posts. I did always include a caveat that the Grand Slam isn’t guaranteed, but it did seem like a relatively safe bet given that it had run annually since ’08 and gotten progressively larger each year.
About a month ago it was time to do my next preparation post, but I decided instead to post my concerns that the Grand Slam might not be returning. It’s hard to keep a good secret in this day and age, and it’s even harder to keep this kind of secret since I know many folks were poking around trying to find US Airways websites with GS 2012 info on it. That tactic had worked in the past, but it wasn’t working this year. Additionally, several folks had posted rumors that GS partners had said there wasn’t a GS 2012. It just started to feel eerily quiet on the Grand Slam front. In this case, no news probably wasn’t good news.
Around that time many people, myself included, started emailing, Facebooking, and Tweeting US Airways to show our support for the promotion and inquire as to the status for this year. The responses have varied, but have essentially always neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a 2012 Grand Slam. The most recent response I see on Twitter regarding this topic was from September 1st. US Airways stated that they “haven’t released any news regarding GrandSlam this year. Any promotions will be announced on our website first.” So, as recently as the last few days, US Airways continues to neither confirm or deny the plans for this year.
It is certainly possible that US Airways is indeed keeping the best secret ever, and the Grand Slam will still make an appearance this year, but I’m no longer holding my breath. I’m not 100% sure why they wouldn’t just share that there isn’t a GS this year if that is the case, but that isn’t the route they have selected thus far. At some point, folks will stop looking for it, and will just be left with a bad taste in their mouth for not being told the information in a clear and direct way. Again, unless of course this is just the best kept secret of the century.
I’m also not 100% sure why they would cancel a very popular promotion. Some people guess it is related to the possible merger with American Airlines. Some folks guess that the financials didn’t make sense. Some folks point fingers at blogs like this one for making the promotion too popular/too easy by giving “step by step” instructions for people who wanted to play along. No doubt blogs helped spread the word about the promotion, but that hardly seems like reason to cancel. If some of the hits were dubbed as “too easy” as a result of blogs giving step by step instructions, then US Airways always has the option of tightening up on those easier hits, or simply making the whole promotion less lucrative. They could easily read the blogs (or massive Grand Slam forums on Flyertalk and Milepoint) to figure out how to do that. US Airways came up with the promotion, so it seems silly to think it would be canceled simply due to being too popular.
If they choose to not have the promotion at all, it seems that there is a better explanation than “blogs killed it”. I’m not sure the exact reasoning behind remaining silent on one of the most popular promotions in the miles and points world, but I’m all ears if they want to share. There are some rumors that a 2013 Grand Slam may be in the works, but it seems strange to (seemingly) randomly just skip a year only to bring it back the next year. If there is some fact in those rumors, maybe it is related to possible merger strategy. That’s my only guess for why they would want to just skip 2012. Perhaps they are just waiting to see if the world truly ends in 2012 before wasting time planning such a large promotion.
None of us should pretend that the Grand Slam was invented for us to have fun and get cheap miles. It was invented to benefit US Airways. As a direct or indirect result of the 2011 Grand Slam, I got a US Airways debit card, a US Airways credit card, a US Airways Club membership, spent a good amount of money on their partners, and became much more familiar with their frequent flier program. I have no doubt that many others did the same. Those are things that make money for US Airways. Lots of us continue to consider US Airways and their mileage program because of the nice kick-start we got from the Grand Slam. Some folks also use the “elite qualifying” miles earned from the Grand Slam to make a run for elite status that they might not otherwise have pushed for with US Airways.
I’m certainly not going to boycott US Airways if there isn’t a Grand Slam, but the truth is I won’t have as much of a reason to focus on their program either. It pays off more to credit some things here and there to US Airways throughout the year when you know you can add to it with the Grand Slam. Without it, it will be much harder for myself and others to build meaningful Dividend Miles balances.
If you have been preparing for the Grand Slam by building up hotel points accounts, holding onto US Airways credit cards, bolstering eMiles/eRewards balances, or have planned some hotel stays with their partner hotels for this fall I wouldn’t change course just yet. I would certainly start evaluating other options in the event that the Grand Slam doesn’t happen, but I wouldn’t do anything rash at this time.
Maybe they are trading the “Grand Slam” for the “Grand Touchdown” and “hits” will be replaced with “first downs” during football season later this year. Yeah, probably not. I’ll keep you posted the second I learn something definitive about the Grand Slam, but I wanted to share this update since I have been getting emails and comments seeking information about the 2012 Grand Slam. The short answer is, it’s not currently looking like there is a Grand Slam 2012, but the officials haven’t yet called off the game, either.