Ben from OneMileAtATime yesterday said: “…I think that anyone that cared about the value of their miles likely left Delta a long time ago…”
Gary from ViewFromTheWing said: “We already knew we could not trust what Skymiles leadership said about their program, and what changes meant. We were assured that ‘high’ award pricing would only happen during extreme demand dates like the Superbowl. It turns out it is common.”
These are two of my trusted and fellow BoardingArea brethren. They have stayed in more 1st class rooms, flown more first class seats and in general know more about frequent flying than anyone reading these words. However they are both flat out wrong in this case. Why?
First, neither one of them fly Delta often. Sure, they spend too much time trying to find seats on Delta and Skyteam jets with their booking services HERE with Ben and HERE with Gary, but that is my point. Most of the criticism about Delta is how hard it is to find saver or low level seats. If that is all you judge an airline on then YES – as has been shown TWICE this year – Delta is the scum on the bottom of your trash can.
However, again, they do not spend time flying Delta. I do. I will have 100 segments on “our” airline this year. I had a Rookie post about why Delta is the best airline in the world a while ago. But let’s review why I love Delta.
1) They were almost ALL on time and worked
2) Almost all of the reps I interacted with were TOPS
3) The wifi worked on almost all the jets
4) The seats were comfortable
5) The Skyclubs are fine and reps are good there
6) When issues came up I was taken care of well
7) The phone app, while slow, works
8) The seats are being upgraded to nice full-flat seats
9) The food is good
10) The drinks are good (if they get rid of Woodford I will cry)
11) With work I 99.99% of the time find SAVER seats
12) The partners are good
13) The routes and frequency are good
14) Elites are treated very good
15) Elite phone reps are good
16) Pilots are well trained and professional
17) HUB airports flow well
18) Credit card gives perks beyond other airlines
19) @DeltaAssist works and works FAST
20) Compensation for issues that do come up.
I could go on and on…
But how much of this list really ties in to the quotes from Ben & Gary? They are talking about the award program. I earn a TON of Skymiles each year. I earn a ton from flying at a Diamond as 125% bonus is sweet. I can and do earn 200,000 each year from my spend on Delta branded AMEX Reserve cards. I earn with both of these a bunch of elite qualifying points as well as exemption to the very top elite level with the airline. So, if you like what is in my list above, and fly more than just on points, and like earning points, then you see the value of Skymiles and are sticking with Delta. Can you trust Delta? I trust that anyone who redeems at high level is a fool and just does not understand the value of Skymiles. I do and enjoy amazing trips, all at SAVER level, each year. Yes they make it hard, but I find value.
Now one thing I do agree with that I do find utterly idiotic and insulting is the complete and utter cop-out that the airline can not alert us in advance. If this were against the law other airlines would be sued for giving their flyers time to adjust to a change. I agree Delta is not being honest about this fact and this is sad and upsetting. It is also insulting to us as Skymiles members. Long term this IS hurting Delta.
The way I see this all play out is simple. The airline is a GREAT airline. Flyers like what they offer. They dislike the changes to the program but so far they have put up with this as the other good parts out weigh the drawbacks of the frequent flyer program. I think Delta is nearing the tipping point here. At some point, if more harsh changes are made, the scale will tip the other way and the pain of the rewards program will push flyers away to what they see as a better airline. The only problem here is – where will they go? United is a joke and their product is unreliable. AA has potential but so many feel the merger with US AIR will drag them lower than United is now. Who is left? Southwest? Good airline but not the same as the majors. Alaska? Just too small. Jet Blue? Too regionally focused. You see my point. Where does a flyer go?
I still love my Delta and I think most frequent flyers agree this is a great airline. I am also afraid Delta does not understand where the line in the sand is for their most loyal and that they will go that one step too far one day (I just hope that day is not one day soon)!- René
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