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Is “Delta Giveth and Claweth Away” fair? It does work both ways so maybe!

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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.

will run for miles

My friend and fellow blogger Kathy had an unfortunate series of events courtesy of our beloved Delta yesterday. Before we go on and look at this, please read her post HERE.

OK now you are back (you did read her post – right)! First off let me say I have real sympathy for my friend as I would for anyone who had something like this happen to them. But we are talking Delta, after all, and they have made, and are making, a gargantuan amount of money on fees and up-sells and really have it down to a science now. I mean take a look:

  • Fees for bags
  • Fees for C+
  • Fees for changes
  • Fees for re-deposits
  • Fees for priority boarding
  • Fees for drinks & food
  • Fees for movies
  • Fees for wifi
  • Fees for +1 in Skyclub

And I could go on and on. The point I am making is that Delta is KING of extracting money from “you”. That is, unless you are an elite Medallion and can circumvent these fees.

Now here is where all this gets interesting to me and where I, who have been REALLY hard on Delta this year, do not 100% take Kathy’s side. Before I take Delta’s side on this, it is really sleazy of Delta to upgrade her and then “claw it away” for NO good reason. Had there been a good reason – then tough cookies. For example, a schedule or equipment change and then too bad. This was not the case and Delta SHOULD have put her back in 1st as promised when she was a medallion. After all, years of loyalty shows dedication and a loyal gesture on Delta part in return may engender and motivate renewed loyalty down the road.

However, they did go at least part way. She got dumped into main cabin coach. Delta did put her back in the “new and improved” Comfort Plus that should have cost her more as a non-elite Delta flyer.

This really takes us back to the point of this post. You see, Delta really does a bunch to reward those who “are” loyal to Delta. Not just those who maintain their status year after year, but those who climb the medallion ranks within a year. Let me explain.

Say you book an award trip as a Gold Medallion. You get NO free changes to those tickets. But, if you work your way up to Platinum, even though you book as a Gold, once you hit Platinum you get to change those tickets FREE all you want. The same basic rules apply to everything. That is, as you go up the medallion ladder you apply all the perks at the current time. Delta rewards you at the time you FLY or at your current status. Nice right?

But the same then applies the other way (mostly). As I have warned readers over and over this year to check all your flights if you are about to drop in status as most times Delta will NOT “claw back” perks unless things happen that can affect your reservation (then again Kathy is the exception to the rule). Basically you are riding on the coat tails of your old status and enjoy the “bonus” you had from your old status.

The bottom line that I do agree with Delta is that they are rewarding those who are loyal to the airline. If you are no longer loyal, why should they give you things FEE FREE when you no longer qualify for all the perks those who are loyal get. After all, do keep in mind all she purchased was a coach ticket and Delta will deliver on that and MORE!

What do you think? Should Delta have done more or did they in the end go above and beyond? – Rene

Delta should have for Kathy

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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.


  1. René,

    Once she got her upgrade, they should not have taken away with the exception of equipment change.

    It is unfortunate that Delta, like many other large companies, has decided to only please the shareholder and wall street at the expense of the customers and the employees.

    Eventually, employees get fed up and head elsewhere and customers do the same. Once enough customer leave, then the number fall and wall street and the shareholder are no longer happy and a new CEO comes in to make yet another set of changed.

    I left Delta when they started to give 1/2 MQMs on discounted tickets and went to US Air. for the next 4 or 5 years US Air got 90% of my business and AA the other 10%. So in all, Delta lost about $50k in business from me.

    After Having one too many problems with US Air and a nasty gate agent, who then told me to write a letter, I came back to Delta, who had already went back to full MQMs regardless of fair and have been GM since, about 3 to 4 years now. But now Delta is making it very hard to want to stay with them.

  2. the same happened to me when I stopped flying Delta, they took away an already confirmed upgrade. It was a bit sad. But I think that’s ok. After all, I did let the status expire because I switched airlines, so I can’t blame Delta, and neither should she!

  3. A good argument can be made for both sides. But I think once the upgrade is “confirmed” delta should not renege. When people drop in status or go up in status I don’t think delta redoes the whole upgrade process. It sticks with the original order before status changes, right?

  4. Shana Gainey-Lewis Reply

    Something similar happened to me once, except I didn’t drop in status. I was Platinum at the time, and due to some sort of issue my flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on a flight the next morning. I got a new email stating that my upgrade was confirmed for the new flight, but when I went to get my boarding pass then I had no seat assigned. I asked the gate agent and she couldn’t help but to assign me an Economy Comfort seat. I was #1 on the upgrade list, and there was 1 open seat in First class just before they closed the door, and someone asked a man in coach if he wanted to take that upgrade but he declined, so the seat sat empty the entire flight. Due to the this experience I don’t think it is right to take away an upgrade once it has been given

  5. Just good business practice says give her the 1st class seat. You told her she had it, why would you not honor that! next year, she may be your biggest customer and regardless of that, an unhappy customer tells quite a few more people their story than a happy customer.

  6. The problem for Delta with this situation is that their moves reeked both of low class, and of incompetence.

    It could not have been a surprise to Delta that she wasn’t going to be a PM at the time the plane flew. But they still gave her the upgrade anyway. Taking it back says that giving the upgrade was a mistake, which means it says that Delta IT is still incompetent. Not something that I’d want to advertise if I were Delta.

    Giving her the upgrade in the first place was probably a mistake. Clawing it back, and thus admitting to their incompetence, was an even bigger mistake.

  7. The up-sell is getting brutal. I was booking some flights the other day to connect the family with me on my travels. I noticed that if you book without status, the only thing available is dreaded middle seats unless you paid-up to upgrade to C+. Also, no chance to get 2 seats together for my wife and daughter. When I booked the same flight, there was lots of empty seats in the main cabin. I am DM, so a quick call to the service line got us 3 seats together, but Delta is really being unfair to non-status flyers by blocking available seats in the main cabin to panic them into paying for C+. We travel constantly for work. I am slavishly loyal to Delta, but one of my colleagues is not and regularly flies UA and US A and is GM on Delta. She discovered yesterday that she could not book C+ anymore without paying, and is now stuck in a middle seat. Our company is not going to pony up extra (non-billable) fees for each segment.

  8. Young_Tho®ough Reply

    @Bruce unfortunately future maybe customers aren’t customers. And they aren’t current spenders. And doing things for people who aren’t customer or don’t qualify or didn’t earn or for free when it could be sold isn’t good business practice but is great generosity. Although I love a generous company I’m fairly certain Delta has firmly established itself as not that.

    @kelly W agreed. That practice is painful.

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