Has Delta gone too far – will you “opt-out” and #BoycottDelta over #Skymiles2015?

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Until TSA Pre Check, most times when I passed through security, I choose to opt-out that is have a manual pat down. Not much fun to have a man give you a rather intrusive screening, but the choice of this over the other choices pushed me to pick the best of two bad options.

Has the new Skymiles 2015 program done this for you? So many in the frequent flyer world are saying it does not matter what Delta does as they are either hub captive or the other airlines do not fly convenient routes; they say they have no choice but to fly Delta.

At some point, like with my TSA screening, Delta will go so far that flyers will vote with the wallet and this change may just do this. The big question is how many? I am sure the Delta “bean counters” have run the numbers and are banking / gambling on those who matter will NOT leave as they just don’t care that much about Skymiles.

In my 105 flown segments last year with Delta I talked to many big spenders who say things like: “I have millions of points but never spend them” or “I only use points to upgrade“. Will these flyers leave Delta over this change? No way as what matters to them is elite miles not Skymiles and, as you noticed with the morning’s post, Delta was shrewd enough NOT to mess with those points! These are the only real points that really matter to their target audience (slick move Delta btw).

What about the all important relationship with AMEX. That also has not changed. They will be able to market the value of the Delta Skymiles card just as they have for years; in fact the value has gone UP as for most people earning Skymiles on spending will be much better than actually getting on a jet.

If you are keeping track, Delta & Skymiles2015 keeps the big spenders happy & AMEX happy. Then who is not happy? The now and then flyer who is just looking for the cheapest price ticket they can find to fly to see grandma! But with bag fees, charging for “better” coach seats, for food, headsets & movies, drinks, wifi, lounge access and anything else they can dream up those undesirable flyers will at least contribute to the company bottom line and be rewarded with a pittance of Skymiles for 2015 (that never expire at least) in return for their brief visit to the airline. Who cares if they get upset and rant on Facebook that they will never fly Delta again (until next year’s visit to the in-laws).

The plan is brilliant. The execution a work of art. The ONLY thing that can go wrong is what if people opt-out and fly another airline. I just don’t think it is going to happen – do you? – René
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47 comments

  1. I do. I will. FF with Delta for 15 years and I just can’t appreciate the way that the company has done business over the past 4-5. There is an opportunity in the market for another low cost domestic carrier…someone should take it.

  2. I’m done with Delta exclusivity (though flying from DTW makes that somewhat problematic).

    Separate Q: Will the penny per mile option (with my Delta Amex Platinum card) still exist? That is, spend 150,000 miles to pay for, say, four $350 tickets (4 x $375 = $1,500)?

  3. Meh- my husband is diamond and his work requires a fair amount of last minute/high cost flying, so we’re in the group that will come out ok with changes. I fly maybe 2-3 times a year using his points. The points don’t cost us anything so it’s always a good deal for me.

    I’m a little pissed about the skyclub guest thing but when we do travel together there is rarely time for a skyclub visit anyway. If I traveled more, we could add me to his reserve amex I guess.

  4. I only fly Delta now if the fare is better or the times are better for me. Otherwise American all the way. Neither one of them is prize, but AA seems to have a better frequent flyer program. For the moment.

  5. Rene I completely agree……this will be a big fuss for a while and then another big fuss when they put out the new mileage earning chart in Q4 of this year but ultimately very few will leave, except possibly in the VERY competitive markets.

  6. Here’s the frosting on the crappy changes. After May 1st. 2014 you can’t bring your spouse in he Delta Lounge as a guest unless you pay $29 – seriously? for a cup of coffee and sometimes 15 minutes of recharging your phone. GET REAL DELTA. The reason I paid $450 for my Delta Reserve card is so I can bring him in the lounge when we travel together – albeit infrequently. Delta needs to ask the question- Do you really want push your customers away? Many times I have other easier non-stop alternatives -but I book Delta because of the small perks like the lounge. But if you take this a way – I will be happy to fly the better flight choice from May 1st on….very unhappy

  7. i’ve ignored DL for a long time already due to how useless skypesos are

    i fly 100K miles domestically (no counting another 40K of international BIS miles via awards), and yet in 2014, i only have 2 kayaking segments with DL : 6.6cpm and 7.7cpm respectively (including tax/fees).

    When I fly DL, I make sure I try my best to make DL lose money on my sale.

  8. it’s too early to tell.
    We’ll need to see how the new 5 tier award chart changes.
    If that changes, and they make further changes to the AMEX relationship (I’m referring to the increase in annual fee on the platinum card), I will avoid Delta as much as possible.

  9. For me I see this as a great move to thin out some and to get the ones that just want the miles.

    I value the service and benefits and the RDM are just icing to me.

    Staying put and looking to take advantage of 2014

    Edward

  10. Except for people in big markets who might actually have a choice I doubt they will loose customers. As a MSP hub captive I will continue to fly Delta unless I have a reasonable choice. Now with all the mergers that is becoming less and less. The earnings is probably a wash for me as I fly for business independent of fare and earn most of my miles through CC. The redemption especially the one way is big for me. I can usually find a nice flight one way but both was always a challenge. This will allow me to get, hopefully, low level one way and return on another airline. That will be very helpful. Delta has some nice non-stops from MSP: LHR, AMS, NRT so flying one way is good but if I am flying from somewhere that would require a stop I’m better off on United or AA both programs where I actually have more miles than Delta.

  11. I’m opting out. My plan now is to finish getting Gold medallion this year as soon as possible, then to status match over to Alaska. I’ll burn the rest of my skypesos over the course of this year and early next. Alaska means that I’ll still occasionally get the nice hard product of Delta, but keep a respectable FF program that actually rewards loyalty instead of biting the hand that feeds it.

  12. I’m still debating my feelings about everything, and I’m not certain how everything will work out. No matter what, something is changing…whether Delta is the model for that or not remains to be seen.

  13. No changes for me; I come out way ahead. I also figure with so many upset, the chance for domestic upgrades will improve.

    Until, of course, UA and AA do the same. Then, they’ll come back to Delta, probably viewing it as the “least worst” option.

  14. I just think they’ve gone too far. With the new MQD, you need to spend a decent amount of money for status. I’m finding that their Rollover miles aren’t doing anything for helping gain status now that the MQD factor is there. Also with the Delta gold car, they’ve removed the $99 companion ticket, this doesn’t leave me with any large enough reasons to pay the $95 annual fee for this card since I’m Silver Medallion. The benefits are too similar. I search out different airlines quite a bit and find so many less expensive options when flying that I’m definitely looking at better program options everywhere else. Flight prices have gotten so high over the last several years. What’s the point of flying Delta when they aren’t competitively pricing and making it more and more difficult to achieve status or miles?

  15. I still in, but watching the new mileage charts come 4th quarter. Those could be the deal breaker.

  16. I see this as a smart (though unpopular) move by Delta. Like you rightly mentioned, they are going to reward the people who spend the most cash with them while not caring much about the “once-in-a-while” traveler. I see this as a model for the others going forward.

    Personally, I am not an elite with any airline so it’s not that these changes would affect me in any way drastically (and possibly that is one of the reasons I am not getting mad at them like a lot others).

    As a travel hacker, I am actually happy with the changes in the current form since this would result in lesser RDM’s being earned by members (who earn them thru flying) resulting in lesser award redemptions. Hopefully, that would result in better award availability. I know it’s just wishful thinking on my part, until the time they clarify the complete picture.

  17. I feel that those who did have a choice had changed to *A or OW long time ago. Those who couldn’t for one reason or another will most likely not change now as they don’t really have a choice in the matter. I doubt the pesos will lose any significant amount of members, and if it does the revenues won’t be hit as the high paying customers will stay. All in all a good move from DL I’d say. Of course, if you have a reasonable alternative run, run now!

  18. I just compared my next flight from MYR-ATL-SYR at $322 w/o taxes. Next year I would bank 3,542 miles vs 3,006 this year. That’s good for me, but those extra 536 miles are going to come from someone else…

    That someone else is the non-business traveler AKA me in a few years. I guess it’s time to get the AmEx Reserve card to max out my DM status and make as much hay as possible while the sun is still shining!

  19. I am not really surprised since it is more logical that the more you pay for a fare, the more miles you accrue. Just like most hotel stays. But I am waiting to see what the new award level will be!

  20. I’ll be hanging around until January, and unless something comes up to ameliorate the negative impact of this move, I’ll be doing a status match at AA. In the meantime, I plan to make my feelings known by showing my displeasure on all those surveys Delta sends out. When a relationship is good and I feel valued, I tend to overlook small flaws, but since Delta’s let me know I’m not valued, suddenly I’ll be looking more closely at those flaws and pointing them out. Maybe if enough such feedback is shared, they’ll make some changes that will keep me around.

  21. I already have. Delta was my airline of choice, although my spend on airfare is only about 25,000 per year (not a big, huge spender, but enough.) What with the endless fees, the exclusion of guests from lounges, and general devaluation of customer experience in general, I’ve gone from a loyal Delta flyer 18 months ago to someone who actively AVOIDS flying Delta. I will pay more to fly Southwest or American rather than Delta.

    I’m just wondering if Delta has a true marketing plan that’s designed to annoy customers. It kind of seems that way. Did they hire the ex-CEO of JC Penny to design their How To Lose Customers Marketing Plan. It sure seems that way….

    For example, this month we traveled on Southwest through LAS to use the Centurion Lounge whereas I used to fly through SLC and use the Delta lounge. I just couldn’t see leaving my wife sitting in the hallway.

    Clearly, Delta cares only about the highest revenue passengers, and it shows.

  22. I’m out. But these latest changes are not really that big a deal for me – I’m in it for Elite status. What killed me was the MQDs.

    The good news is I hedged my bets last year and got Silver with United, which I’ve found actually upgrades me more often than my Gold Delta status (plus you can actually use the miles). So I’m all in on United looking for the $25K on my Chase card. Can’t do $25K on two cards so United Wins.

  23. I’m over Delta. I live in Atlanta, which makes it tough to fly American or United, but I’ll be doing it come January. I’ve got zero status and only about 90,000 Delta miles, so I don’t have much at stake. I’ll burn what I’ve got and move on.

  24. I’ll be honest – – I’ve flown once in the past 5 years, and I used whatever Skymiles I had accumulated from previous business flights (when I had a job that actually had me travel) and “earned” through Skymiles Shopping to pay for the ticket. I liked Delta then, and will probably continue to fly with them.

    Does anyone know if this change will affect if miles are earned with Skymiles Shopping?

  25. Count me as one of those who already left for the golder skies of the Alaska MVP program, as the earlier devaluations were reason enough for me.

    I still fly Delta when they are best on price and do earn Silver from MS on the credit card MQMs, which is enough for free exit row on booking and the occasional upgrade. They’ve made a business decision and so have I.

    I do question the soundness of their business decision, this change is not going to incent anyone to choose Delta that doesn’t do so already – nobody will be shifting from their preferred airline just to earn more Skypesos. However, it will drive away folks who do have a choice and consider RDMs when making their bookings. So net-net, it’s a losing strategy.

  26. @David – doubtful any change as Skymiles Shopping is SUCH a bad value you should never ever do that. If you want to PWM that is Pay With Miles you can at least get 1 cent value each Skymile.

  27. Everyone has to do what is best for them, as evidenced by the previous responses. For me, it’s time to go. I’ll use up my DL miles and then bid them farewell.

    You can’t make people respect you, but you can stop them from disrespecting you.

  28. As an Atlantan (Delta’s home) and loyal Delta flyer for 15 years achieving platinum or better each year, I will what and see. But the new guys in town – SOUTHWEST – are looking better and better.

  29. @John – you so make my points. I had a LONG talk with a Delta rep about just what you said. I told him that if Delta goes REV based they will loose against SWA. I think this choice will come back and cost Delta more than they could ever dream and will be seen as the worst move in 2o years the airline has made.

  30. I will not leave Delta but will not fly them exclusively. I already have miles on United,American
    and US Air which I started to accumulate after the last change! What is it with Delta can we
    Expect a change surprise every month when is enough enough?

  31. I do, I will. I was elite with Northwest but ever since the merger almost everything has gone downhill. I am no longer elite and I used up my miles and now always look for an alternative airline whenever possible. This just confirms my belief that Delta is the worst…..

  32. @Rene (DeltaPoints) – In the post, you say the move is “brilliant” (and I didn’t read that as being sarcastic), yet in your reply to John, you say “worst DL move in 20 years.” I don’t understand the two very contradictory positions. Also, did you really mean that the SkyMiles Shopping (portal) is a “bad value” or did you think David was talking about buying SkyMiles? Ahh, it just dawned on me that you must mean in comparison to other “cash back” type shopping portals.

  33. @LarsErikNYC – brilliant from a company move not for flyers! 🙁 as to buying say gift cards with miles or hotel rooms etc (my guess what reader is talking about) then redemption is horrid!

  34. When AA & US merged, I said that I was going to do everything in my power to avoid the new AA, which meant UA and/or DL. DL’s gutting of SkyPesos is giving me serious cause for reconsideration of that. 🙁 I could fly DL and credit to VS, AS, or Flying Blue (and I will if I ever fly DL), but this has me so mad I don’t even want to fly them.

  35. Renee, The short answer is it is very possible that delta has gone too far with this change (and other changes sure to follow including revenue-based MQMs and upgrades) but only time will tell. I will probably stick with them for two more years until I reach 2 million MQMs. After that so long. I think that a good ff program makes its members feel important. I am a high-miles, low-revenue DM who made my MQD requirement last year, and this change makes me feel totally unappreciated. It cuts the RDMs I receive big time. If American retains its current ff program I will go there.

  36. I will be leaving Delta in 2015 (After my status expires). I am not a business flyer but rather one who does a lot of trips for family and fun (15+ trips a year). I value but Skymiles and Medallion miles but this for me has broken the camels back. A few things which impacted my decision:
    1. Switching over to MQDs: I wont make the spend – my other half will but combined we just dont spend $50K a year on things and we dont own a business so I wont be exempt and I wont come close to the spend (we love mile runs!)
    2. Increase in SkyClub costs: We love using the sky club but the new changes have us realing and seaching for another option. Its a good service but NOT worth the increased amounts.
    3. To fly with our beloved Delta anywhere, we have to have a layover in a hub city. Not very convient but worth it for the miles and with the club.
    4. The decrease in skymiles reallys defeats the purpose of sticking with Delta – Each year we have enough points to buy a round trip ticket to Europe in Business – that wont happen with the new sysem.

    With American and United located at our local airports and offering direct flights to locations we which to travel, I will flock to them. Delta is a good service but they dont valuve their customers over their bottom dollar.

  37. you know what’s interesting about this? if i understand things right, it has flipped the entire way to approach status on it’s head. instead of looking for long, cheaper CPM flights, now it will make more sense to find shorter, more expensive flights.

    it’s the new ‘efficient’ – not CPM, but $ per mile. i think those that fly business who care about this will likely wind up pissing their companies off if they take more expensive flights to keep their status.

    as for me, i’m going to stay with DL but diversify. if UA has a better option, i’ll take it. but if UA goes this route as well, i’ll probably come back to DL.

  38. Just did some math on my next flight to Amsterdam from Los Angeles. I did the following:

    Called to confirm M fare and upgrade availability on KLM direct RT LAX-AMS–confirmed seat and upgrade for total of $4117.30

    I’ll be earning 11,156 mqm and 22,312 rdm.

    Based on the new earning it would be 11,156 mqm (supposedly?) and 43,852 rdm. I’m in no position to be paying +$4k for a flight on a regular basis, but I do it once in a while. That’s a significant improvement imho. Even on the lower-priced economy fares, at PM + PRG Amex I still end up around the same earning. If they make the miles more valuable like they say they’re going to, I’m in a good spot I think. I would also note that I’m one of those people who can’t afford to redeem miles anyway, so…it’s not like I really care all that much.

    –I like Delta because they operate well and because I like KLM. Blah.

  39. I bought my 1st AA ticket yesterday after 15 yrs of Delta/NWA and partners. Planning on a AA challenge. Sorry loved the FA’s, GA’s and Red Coats but management and IT not. Delta’s probably going to have to do 1 of 2 things. Discount coach to fill it or go to all 1st class planes on transcontinental flights because they’ll have so many PL and DM’s who will end up in coach and be upset.

  40. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/your-money/credit-and-debit-cards/now-may-be-a-good-time-to-bail-out-of-frequent-flier-programs.html?hp&_r=0

    Interesting article in NY Times about Delta’s gutting of redeemable miles for flights. As for me, I’m redoubling efforts to accrue Skymiles while I can, cancelled my Delta Platinum Amex, going to max spending on Reserve until 60 K then switch to my newly acquired Barclay’s arrival card for everything. If the new awards calendar don’t make it worthwhile, I’m a free agent and will only use my Arrival card going forward.

  41. While miles and upgrades are usually the end-product of airline FF programs, no one seems to remember why people chose one airline over another back in the good old days: service and perks. I made it to Silver with UA last year and threw away my card. Lousy service in the air, on the ground and over the phone. No more access to E+ seats until the day before my flights, only one checked bag for free, and several other reasons. I made the move to DL under a status match and here’s what I found in my first day with DL: access to exit row seats on booking and EC+ seats for half-price, the ability to still check two bags for free, a pleasant staff (ground, air and phone)- the “Red Coats” are awesome, the gate agents called me by name when boarding each of my five segments in the roundtrip, an upgrade on one of my segments, expanded snack boxes on board (including tapas!), and $25 access to SkyClubs with my DL AMEX. The program changes came later but running back to UA for the just miles is simply ludicrous. AA will be going the way of US sooner than you can say “merger” and all the programs will follow DL, WN, JB & VA. If miles is all you care about then chase them. As for me, the smaller things that TSA Pre, Priority Pass, and an airline credit card don’t get me are what I want and DL still has them.

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