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Does Delta still care about customers? New changes in policies for Skymiles

Loyal Delta frequent flyers are facing a new reality in Delta’s Skymiles program. What once was a rewarding loyalty program for choosing to fly Delta is now a completely different animal. Delta has been changing its policy very slowly so that customers can no longer rack up miles to gain loyalty privileges, but now must pay a pretty penny to gain them as well.

Delta Sky Clubs and other perks are about to cost more for Delta customers.
Photo by Michael N. Todaro

Delta Skymiles customers enjoy some great perks such as free upgrades, lounge access, and even a special Priority Line to skip the long lines at check in. Until now, customers gained Sky Miles that could be used for upgrades, free flights, and special access to Skymiles Clubs simply by flying. Depending upon the class of fare purchased, customers accrued up to 100% of the distance in miles flown.

Delta is now switching gears to cater to wealthier customers who spend more on tickets purchased by awarding Skymiles status solely based on how much money is spent. “The current distance-based model was developed 30 years ago when fares were highly correlated to distance,” said Delta’s Vice President, Jeff Robertson. “We think the spend-based model allows us to invest more in our premium customers and is right for Delta today.” (Folsom 2014)

This is a far outcry from the beginning of Delta’s safety video. In the video, CEO Richard Anderson speaks about “The Delta difference” and “always having your back.” I guess those mottos flew away when Delta realized that they were giving customers too much for simply remaining loyal.

Part of what lead up to this decision to change policies resulted in complaints from Diamond Elite status customers. If the lounge overflowing is leading to a problem, why not make a separate area for Diamond Elite and first class passengers, like other airline lounges in other parts of the world? In addition, customers with the Delta credit card earn miles without even flying. Not to mention anyone can purchase a pass to the lounge for the period before the flight. Perhaps instead of punishing loyal frequent fliers by taking away their loyalty perks, Delta should consider changing some other policies like the credit card mileage. More than that, many Diamond Elite passengers are business men and women who do not even have to spend a dime on an airline ticket, so why take privileges away from regular people who actually do spend their hard earned money on a Delta flight?

As a Delta customer myself, I have always praised Delta for such a rewards program. It’s not very common to find businesses that actually reward customers for loyalty. As a middle-class citizen, I often even paid a bit more to enjoy “The Delta difference.” Why? Because I felt like Delta actually cared about me as a customer and valued my opinion and loyalty. Now, I can just add Delta to the list of companies who care more about the almighty dollar than the customer.

It is a sad reality we face in America. Loyal customers who choose certain companies find that they are not even noticed or recognized. One can only hope that CEO Richard Anderson reconsiders this decision to bring back the alliance that customers shared with a once great company. Until then, there will be one less Delta customer on board.

To read more about Delta’s Skymiles program, click here.

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© 2014 Elana Nichols, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a

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