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Opinion: Delta needs to scrap SkyMiles 2015 & win back our trust. This is how to do it.

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


What the Delta award chart should be

My wife and I have been married a long time – almost 30 years. We rarely ever have “strong disagreements” anymore as when there is an issue we settle it quickly. But years ago, there was this one time when we were arguing and my dear bride began to see in this one case that she was flat out wrong, but she wasn’t quite ready to admit it completely. In the end she concluded the discussion with :

“Well – I never said I was smart”!

We both stopped “disagreeing” and started giggling. Also know my dear wife is WAY smarter than me so that statement made it all the more funny!

Nice story, but what does that have to do with Delta Air Lines you may ask? Plenty. Yesterday I blogged about the current and ongoing issue where Delta is over charging it’s elites for redeeming their SkyMiles. Shocking? You bet and then again not really as we expect stuff like this and that is sad. This is just part of a massive problem with SkyMiles 2015. At some point Delta needs to stand up and say:

“We never said SkyMiles 2015 was smart”!

Trust is a HUGE part of frequent flyer programs. Folks go “ape” when any airline makes changes to a program without first letting it’s members know the change is on the way (and Delta is FAMOUS for doing this over and over and over). I think if you asked anyone who participates in the program if they trust Delta, specifically about SkyMiles, they would tell you that they have no trust left.

That can change and MUST change soon. Notice the chart I have tossed up on top of this post. Want to make everyone happy? Make a simple program everyone can trust! Make it simple. With Delta partners we must find “low” or level 1 space right now. There is no mid, high or other “level” space. Now if Delta wants to play with their inventory they can jack up as many awards as they want into the “flex” bucket. Sure folks will not like paying 2x the “saver” but they will accept the reality of what it is.

The same thing can work for business class. For example, 125,000 saver for Europe and then the MAX would be 250,000 or the “level 4” award (when we could find those charts that is). Again, I think spending that many points for such a trip is crazy, but most folks would grumble and pay that if they see that for their perfect days that is just the price it is.

This type of system also makes future price changes super simple. Add 5,000 to saver then it adds 10,000 to flex. I think most expect price increases now and then and if Delta were to just do this, say every 2 years and do this consistently EVERY 2 years or so it will be an expected thing and people can plan and adjust bookings. Again, it will not be popular but will be accepted as the way it is.

Bottom line about all this is simplicity is beautiful. Most folks don’t want to spend the time to learn all there is to learn about programs. But if you make the choices so clear cut that ANYONE can understand them (again, not saying like them), then it builds trust and confidence moving forward.

Do I think Delta will listen to me and do anything remotely like this? No. I fully expect the program to get worse and maybe MUCH worse real soon. This sure is a sad year for Delta frequent flyers! – René
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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

10 Comments

  1. Don in ATL Reply

    I agree 100%. I really liked it better in the old days (when I was CO Platinum). There was only one level and they either had space on the flight or they didn’t. That was simple and good. Then they (and DL too) started adding other levels — saying you could get the last on the plane if you paid more miles. I think this was the beginning of the end. So, your simple chart above is a very good step to get us back to basics! Kudos. The basic problem is that the airlines sold gazillions of miles to 3rd parties (credit cards, car rental companies, hotels, etc) and made a TON of MONEY in doing this, and now when it comes time to pay out the free trips, the situation is impossible.

  2. As long as the company is making a ton of money, the shareholders are happy, the stock price rises, and there’s nothing on the horizon to indicate increased competitive capacity, they simply do not care.

  3. What Steve said. Where there is no competition, it’s silly to offer any serious loyalty program at all, because you have a captive market anyway. When the loyalty programs aren’t paying out, play a game that is paying out. Evolve, adapt, or die. Trying to tell Delta what to do because “I’m an Elite” is a waste of time IMHO. They clearly feel they have too many Elites, and they’re doing something about it.

  4. Santastico Reply

    @Steve: Right on!!! That is exactly what I said yesterday. Their stock is up 50% in the last 12 months. I flew 12 segments with Delta so far this year (around 30,000 MQM) and all but 1 flight were not oversold or completely packed. Also, all the flights originated in MSP and I flew to RDU, OMA, SFO, GSO and NONE of them cost me less than $900 for a round trip. Yes, my company paid $1,245 for me to fly a non stop MSP-OMA-MSP on coach class. That is purely insane!!!! Thus, I doubt Delta cares about win our trust back. All they care is to deliver what shareholders are looking for: MONEY!!!! And they have a CEO that does that. He could not care less about customers or loyalty but he is ready to go out and say what he said last week to try to diminish competition from ME airlines since he knows he cannot win on quality and service. Pay attention on how he brags about his airline on their safety video. Until us (loyal customers) start to stop being loyal to them there is nothing they will change in the way they treat us.

  5. Delta won’t do squat.
    Should they? Of course, but they are printing money and clearly don’t care about anything.
    The US government helped to create this beautiful oligopoly. Until true competition reappears, forget it.
    Buy the stock, not tickets.

  6. Exactly what Steve said above. Why SHOULD Delta try to appease their customers? You’re held captive, I understand, but that’s not Delta’s problem. They’re in the black.

  7. Rene you said “what Delta needs to do to win back our trust”. I won’t comment on or give my opinion if Delta even wants our trust back. I will comment if I can ever trust Delta again. Nope. I might be naive but I give 100% trust in the beginning and as things transpire I remove some of my trust. In the end it reaches 0% – that’s where I am right now. I just spent better part of an hour checking award flights I booked to make sure I didn’t get the DM “bonus” to pay more miles for the flight. I could be good but if they attempted to “fix” the IT last night I see no reason why they would not fix it to just charge more miles to everyone. After all there are no award charts to compare when booking (besides the screen caps all over the internet). I’m over it. Just booked a couple of paid first seats to MIA on AA and will send the receipt to Delta (if I feel like wasting my time). As A DM on Delta who has zero status on AA you can see my path. I don’t care if Delta can see it.

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  9. I’m giving up on Delta. Being FO was meaningless. The Amex Skymiles card is next to go. We have 600,000 miles in 2 accounts. We wanted to fly KLM in April 2016. TATL there are no KLM seats, only DL and RT in BE is 250,000 each ticket. The 125,000 awards are non-existant. Now why should I fly Delta?

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