Are Delta “trinkets and beads” enough to offset horrid frequent flyer program changes?

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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.

gift in 1st class MSP from delta delta points blog

The above was waiting for me on a recent flight from Minneapolis to Seattle on my EAT run. They also had, at many of the gates in MSP, a rather large bowl of candy where anyone could help themselves to a few (btw, my hometown South Bend airport has had that for a LONG time).

Was I impressed? Sure, this was a nice touch and was appreciated. But “Mardi Gras” trinkets and beads are only fun for so long before they become what they are – cheap and disposable and not really lasting.

delta FA gives me delta thank you card

The same goes for what myself and other Diamonds got just before landing. The FA’s gave to each one a personal thank you card. Again, a very nice touch. Even Delta reached out and responded to my tweet about it and said:

“DeltaPoints Anything for you! We want to always make your experience amazing, but we cannot thank you enough for your loyalty to Delta.”

It was so nice to see Delta CORP tweet back to me. This again was impressive and nice as they tend to be very conservative in social media interactions. But I am after all a loyal Delta flyer (just less so of a fan of the current frequent flyer program).

And that last bit gets to my point. Things like these are nice and make a small difference.  They are the special touches that make you appreciate the airline as a top elite. After all, these kinds of things are the icing on the cake, but how good would it be if Delta took away the cake? For most of us what matters is:

Upgrades that do not clear
If a flight is late or canceled
GoGo Wifi that does not work
Catering did not show up

And so on. Next, after the flight is all over and I get my hard earned points, when we go to REALLY be rewarded for our loyalty to an airline, and go to spend our $kyRubles, just how appreciated do we feel at the end of the day? Really not so much if we have to spend 2x or 3x what it should cost in points to fly from A-B!

At some point, and I think we are seeing this this already, enough is enough. Those folks Delta is “most” targeting to “feel special” and spend the most with the airline are going to wise up and be furious just HOW MUCH it costs to spend their loyalty points. Also they will be upset about how many MORE restrictions and changes have come to the program in 2014/2015 that they just have not yet taken the time to find out about. Then, all the kind gestures by Delta people are out the window as well as the warm fuzzies they created.

My friend MJ had an amazing post yesterday I hope you will please read. Then, you must next read the comments below the post. I think we are at a tipping point everyone and Delta just DOES NOT SEE IT!

I see it. I no longer collect $kyRubles for redemption. Sure, I do earn some here and there as well as earning them alongside my MQMs via my Delta AMEX Reserve card. I may have to top off points earned with other cards say via nearly instant Membership Rewards transfers if I need.

But there are SO many other choices now that are clearly VASTLY superior to the $kyRubles program like Alaska or American’s program. For coach awards, that Delta brags so many are redeeming points for, just about ANY non-airline card is a better choice. For example FlexPerks points or Barclay’s Arrival points simply CRUSH $kyRubles for coach travel as there are ZERO restrictions and you even earn points when you spend them with Delta and others!

All this comes from someone who REALLY knows the program and how to extract value from a Delta award. If I am telling you value is just about gone – you should listen. Loyalty is after all a two way street as Delta themselves say for all to hear.


So what do you think. Can Delta just not care at all about the award program and just provide a good product and service and that is enough for everyone (or at least those who Delta cares about)? – 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.


  1. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    MBS and TVC have had the candy for a couple of years, too. I haven’t seen it at FNT or DTW, yet.

    About 16 months ago, I noticed for about six weeks the pilot(s) and lead flight attendant on domestic flights were going out of their way to thank customers. For a couple of weeks, the lead flight attendant would walk down the aisle thanking each of the customers in first-class by name and status. Then this stopped occurring. Shortly thereafter, the pilot or pilots would essentially do what the lead flight attendant had done just after boarding and prior to the aircraft door closing. This too stopped.

    Now it seems Delta has instructed all ground staff to address passengers, when they choose to do so (at gates at boarding, etc.) at least, using the Christian name, not “Mr. Smith” (as had been the case previously).

  2. I suppose if you felt snarky, you could have asked the Delta reps what they’ve done to deserve your loyalty as their own video recommends, when you were in Atlanta last week.

    • @Christian – Oh I did. I will have LOTS more to share over the coming weeks (not much of it good sad to say)!

  3. John DELTA Reply

    René –

    Nothing at SEA today enroute to MSP as far as gifts, treats, cards or trinkets.

    We will see in the morning if they have anything. No card, but a LOT of thank you’s on my flight over to MSP. I have never been thanked so many different times; I am counting 7-8 times. The flyer next to me started asking me why they singled me out. Not sure.

    I sure wish SEATAC would go to the three-lane boarding system, along with every other major airport. Boarding was a mess this morning. A knee-jerk mass rush to the boarding lanes when they started courtesy checking carry-ons and everyone thought those people were getting on the plane.

    No, in the end it (treats & trinkets) is not enough. The troops are restless and it was so clear from this morning’s flight. 34 Medallions on the Upgrade (UG) list. Only one (lucky me) got the one first class upgrade available. I spoke with a lot of Medallions in boarding area and in SkyClub who asked why?

    My answer is simple; Delta has artificially inflated the Medallion ranks to the point where the Silvers & Golds (and nearly some of the Platinums in select hubs) are now seeing their status as a mere “trinket” -to coin your phrase – with no discernible upgrade potential.

    I termed it #MedallionMania in Seattle, where the ‘Battle in Seattle’ has resulted in a bunch of now disillusioned paying flyers, to describe the burgeoning masses.

    But alas, this year many will fall off (as Delta hopes) taking with them many SkyMiles (used up in over-charging schemes, er, website ‘pricing errors’) and also unable to renew their status for 2016.

    I am so looking forward to February 1, 2016.

  4. One pro of the skymiles program that I rarely ever read from any blogger is its rollover miles. I love that concept and I’m glad Delta still uses it! As long as rollover miles are possible in DL’s program, I think there is still value there. AAdvantage and Mileageplus do not have any form of rollover miles at all.

  5. Corbett Kroehler Reply

    I agree with every word, René, as well as the great point from Joey. Most of the time when I fly, I have a checked bag. They screwed it up royally in 2011 at JFK and in 2013 at MSP. Since then, it’s been unicorns and double rainbows: no delays, nothing lost, barely any damage. I have used the same paper bag tag on 20+ round-trip, multisegment itineraries!

  6. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    I don’t blame a lot of the gate lice for their actions. Many don’t realize they aren’t that special. Delta has told them they are and made them think they would get upgrades all the time or super-early boarding. Combined with overworked gate agents, who don’t diligently enforce boarding procedures (the chronic gross abuse of special-needs early boarding is most obscene), it’s no wonder things are horrendous at big airports.

  7. Young_Tho®ough Reply

    Simple devaluation of miles negates the ability to hold on to them forever. Just means the longer you can keep them the less they still will be worth eventhough yes they havent just disappeared…..unless you died. only reason I appreciate rollover now is because everytime I go to use miles for something big the redemption amount goes up and I need more time to collect more miles.

    I mentioned in my tweet that the gestures of loyalty would make me shoot for PM this year where I hadn’t quite decided. But even still ultimately my goal is likely to use that for a better 2016 status match elsewhere. It may be wishful thinking here in ATL but better a match and PM than just GM especially with the crud baseline of how GM is rewarded now.

    • @Young – What is the point of ANY status when they charge you 2-3x what other charge and no REAL 1st class. #KeepDesceding is the new norm. There is NO loyalty with DL anymore. Only $$$ matter nothing else.

  8. I’m GM this year and flew ORD ATL SFO JFK ORD last Saturday. I was upgraded on all segments except SFO JFK which isn’t upgradable for GM.

    I fly out of ATL and skypriority has real value to me as does SDC. For the JFK ORD flight the gate agent could be heard as it was quiet. She was very clear in her instructions as to who was preboarding and in what order. She also made it clear for passengers to look at their boarding passes to see their boarding zone. It was refreshing.

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