Delta, this is what we WANT for the 2016 Medallion program – please listen!

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delta medallion program page from delta-com

American Airlines has released their 2015 Frequent Flyer program and it looks really good to many. After all, the idea of a frequent flyer program, for an airline, is to drive profits to the company. Great idea and I agree 100%. But to me the way you accomplish that is to offer a program that incentivizes buying choices by all elites to choose one and only one airline even when maybe not the cheapest or most direct or convenient choice as the perks we receive and value we get drives us to spend all we can with that one airline! Delta.com says about the medallion program:

“As a Medallion member, your loyalty is rewarded with exclusive perks. Enjoy our industry-leading benefits including Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades and new Choice Benefits for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Each of our four Medallion levels – from Diamond to Platinum to Gold to Silver – delivers an added level of service, exclusivity and rewards.

Each year, you can earn status through a combination of the miles or segments you fly, and your annual spending to enjoy added perks at the airport, on board and beyond.”

Good basic pitch but let’s look at these more closely as this is what Delta seems to think is what we want and is their marketing pitch to sell a flyer to fly Delta.

  • Loyalty is rewarded. Humm…. I see spending is rewarded with Skymiles 2015. Loyalty means very little if talking Skymiles.
  • Rollover is a big plus and does drive loyalty since this is an incentive to keep flying.
  • Unlimited UGs. Well if it were not so hodge podge this would be amazing as I will touch on later.
  • Choice Benefits. Yes, we love these but this needs to be tweaked. Again see below.
  • Service, exclusivity and rewards. Humm… Delta service is always good, but yes medallion reps are often very good and higher MQD spend will make it more exclusive and we are really fine with MQDs but as to rewards.. Well… We are talking Skymiles here. 😉
  • Perks at the airport, on board and beyond. Perks like Skypriority rocks and boarding first. Onboard Delta has devalued HOOUs and beyond now so much as I will show below.

Not listed really in this little narrative, but touched on below, are some things we really do LOVE about the program. We do love:

Crossover Rewards, Skybonus, that Skymiles never expire, solid perks for each medallion level, free bags & that our status really is recognized by Delta people!

So now it is my turn. Delta. Dearest Delta. Here is what WE want to see for the most amazing and spectacular announcement that would make frequent flyers SCREAM how great Delta is. Yes, some will cost the company a little money, but if you reward us this way we WILL spend more and more at Delta rather than going to other airlines (that is the point right?)! Let’s go and really in no particular order of importance:

1) Stop taking things away from us. We are sick of “enhancements” that are really just cuts to what we already have.

2) Stop the take away when you give us something. There is nothing more madding to see an announcement you get this.. but… and then we see the other half of the equation.

3) Please fix the partner award space issue. Sure this may cost you but we should be able to find Skyteam award space on Delta.com (at least).

4) Oh fix the award page. We know you are working on that but when you don’t fix it so much that the only thing we see are low level seats plus CASH functioning as a new profit center for Delta. We earned our awards – let us spend them. Don’t charge us for EVERY low level award we find (I know you are thinking about doing this Delta – DON’T YOU DARE)!

5) Global upgrades and Regional upgrade are amazing. We really appreciate them. They are an amazing value and they do drive our buying choices to go Delta to attain them. But we are not getting enough. At least match what other airline programs have, that is 8 Global as a Choice Benefit for Diamonds.

6) Delta Skyclub for Diamonds should be Executive so +1’s can come in. You, Delta, are trying to make Diamond more exclusive. That is great. At least then give Diamonds full access not just individual access to the clubs (and don’t tell us the clubs are worth it – they are not all that special compared to others).

7) Enforce the upgrade list at gates including after boarding. Please, on Delta.com, and in training and memos to Delta GA s tell them to stick with the list. If an elite boards and space is open take the extra minute or two to pull them up from coach. An elite should not have to wait to board to not risk shenanigans from happening.

8) Million miler program. You are still giving MQMs and using them as part of the equation for elite status as well as MM status. How about a clean chart for status as well as a shot at DM. How about:

1MM = Silver
2MM = Gold
4MM = Platinum
6MM = Diamond

With these numbers flyers have shown loyalty to Delta. Delta should in equal measure show loyalty back to a flyer. This would be simple, straight forward and good. Oh, and please change the wording back to lifetime while you are at it.

9) Expand rather than takeaway award stopover choices for award tickets. Why should you care if we stop once or twice along the way if we are flying the same distance or the same number of flights. Make this a way to see the world and enjoy the points we worked so hard to earn.

10) Upgrade from ALL of USA including transcon and Hawaii (even from ATL). Give us all a shot at all domestic routes. This would be a big perk that would drive us to fly Delta that much more! Having the sorta-kinda-maybe-not-in-print upgrade from JFK-SFO/SEA/LAX is just insulting and not being able to upgrade to Hawaii from ATL/MSP/NYC is beyond frustrating. Give us the perk (at least for PM & DM’s).

So this, IMO, would be an announcement that would make people FLOCK to Delta. To see, not only is the airline the best in the world, but the frequent flyer program is a reason to be loyal and always fly Delta! What do you think. Agree with me? Please add what else would be a home run for our medallion program – René
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19 comments

  1. Well said, Rene. I especially do not want to see a $$$ charge on low level awards. And I don’t want to see the low level BE seats go up again. They just went up 25% last year. And yes, what does it matter how many stops we take on an award ticket, as long as it is legally along the way. GREAT POST, Rene.

  2. @Don – txs – 2014 was the year of #KeepDescending BIG TIME – I hope they make 2015 KeepClimbing as they say they are!

  3. Obviously Delta is doing well at the moment. If there is a time to change frequent flyer loyalty programs, it would be now. Delta will only listen if their frequent flyers flock to AAdvantage and start affecting their profits.

  4. Best post in a while! As far as the above comment. Part of the reason why Delta can cut benifits is right now they are by far the best legacy airline to fly as far as least cancellations, best on time and service. Are they perfect no far from it but every other legacy does not even come close. What I would like to see is the other legacy airlines improve so we have choice and the loyalty program would no longer be enhanced as easily.

    On a side note I like fly JetBlue when Direct and because of the nice space in coach. Well no more plans are in place to add seats and take away first bag free.

  5. @DSF – Agree with you. Clearly hands down Delta is the best airline in the USA now. However, FF program not so much. I also think MINT is amazing and where JetBlue comes in you see prices and options and prices drop. Delta needs to offer the same service / perks / deals to all (IMO)!

  6. The +1 for the SkyClub is huge. Flying to get DM status means a lot of time away from family. I’m flying alone 98% of the time and have only had my family with me 2xs in the past year. This loss is insulting!

    As far as GC’s go… They’re supposed to work. But, I’ve tried to use them twice and it ended up capacity controlled with open seats available.

    If Delta really wants the $35k I spend with them a year, they’re really going to need to think about what their DMs need. I like the product, but they need to have my back, not just put the knife to my back and force me to accept less.

  7. Well stated Rene, I don’t imagine they wont keep taking away until they see a loss. Then give a little back at that point. Until then I don’t believe they are motivated to change for the better or even maintain their benefits. The loss of + 1 is terrible and will keep renewals down for sure. Also, upgrades to Hawaii and sky team rewards at Delta.com should be included.

  8. I am Diamond and fly LAX-JFK all the time and was frustrated when the complimentary upgrades disappeared this past March. Can you tell us more about the informal GA upgrade system? I see there is an upgrade list at the gate, but assumed those were people using miles or global certificates. I regularly see non-rev FAs take 3-4 BE seats. I’ve been paying K fares, usually about $200 more each way, and using miles to upgrade on those flights where upgrade seats show in the inventory, but inventory is hard to find until a day or two before. To the point you’re making, on this route I get nothing for my status. Anyone with miles but no status can get the same.

    By the way, the service and seats on these flights are outstanding and definitely worth paying more for. It’s the uncertainty I don’t like.

    Finally, I notice that SEA-JFK has downgraded to regular 757s on 2/3 of the flights — not even cradle seats, but it’s still being charged like it’s something special.

  9. I really like your wish list. Unfortunately, except for #7, I’d give a snowball’s chance of seeing even one of them happen. Under your system lifetime diamond would require 30 years of flying 200,000 mqms/year. Anyone who flies that much should also qualify for a delta pension. American, I believe, gives platinum status at 2mm.

  10. I seem to be the only PM who constantly asks for GUs to be reinstated for a choice benefit. These were completely taken away from us. I see multiple posts stating they were useless but I have never had a problem finding flights to use them. I had to book in M or B so Delta made money out of me. RUs are pointless for those of us who make multiple short flights.

  11. Diamond Upgrades…
    It’s always a treat when an upgrade clears more than 24 hrs before flight tine, this means I can select a preferred seat and a special meal. This will cost very little and is a real perk. The Delta special meal selections are much better than UAL or AA; works 90% of the time and avoids the “sorry, your selection is not available..”

    1800kidney

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