This really is a tall ask. After all, Delta has a stellar list of at least 50+ events that have made flyers angry and upset with the mothership over the past few years. But that begs the question, just what could Delta do that would REALLY make people crazy but are not that far fetched that they could happen soon. I mean over the top crazy mad and enough to “pick up their pitchforks“, figuratively speaking that is.
Let’s see if you agree with my list of 10 things Delta could do that would really be dumb, over the top dumb in fact, ideas. All of them I can see Delta doing at some point down the road:
1) End free medallion upgrades or fare restrict them. Delta, due to FCM and packed jets, made complimentary upgrades much harder to get than before. One would think ending them would not happen, but then again they have for the transcon routes already unless you use a Regional Upgrade certificate. I think the first step would be restricting complimentary upgrades to higher priced fare classes.
2) End or change to Rollover MQMs. Delta is the only airline that allows you to keep and rollover your elite points year after year as long as you at least meet all the qualifications for Silver Medallion status. This has been HUGELY popular and a reason to not switch to another airline midyear once you reached whatever status level you want. But, some flyers can earn so many points they will be Diamond for years to come. I can see a CAP added like the 75,000 SkyMiles per ticket cap.
3) End or change free redeposit of SkyMiles tickets. Four years ago this month Delta implemented the no redeposit T-72 hour rule, that is, at that point in time if you do not fly you simply lose your points even if you cancel the trip. Most Delta fares are non-refundable. I can see Delta moving first to making all coach award tickets non-refundable (after the 24 hour grace period to cancel) and making only business class awards redepositable.
4) Add fees to elites. You can only make so much money on coach flyers. At some point you have to turn your attention to the remaining ones on the jet and that is elites. Now don’t get me wrong, this, like most of these ideas, is a really DUMB idea, but that has not stopped Delta in the past. In fact Delta360 members I talk to say the one thing that really makes them most upset is Delta even asking for a fee to do something for them (Delta seems to always waive the fees if they ask, btw).
5) Change MQM earnings to revenue based. At this point all should know that elite points, MQMs, are still earned by distance flown and bonus for higher fare class tickets that is just like they have been for years and years. SkyMiles 2015 had zero impact on the way flyers earn elite points. Many flyers who are gutted by the SkyMiles 2015 change who fly LONG routes all over the world, often in coach, find some saving grace that they still earn a ton of elite points. Think how upset they would be to earn almost nothing for a trip to Asia and back in the last middle seat in coach! But, I can see this happening soon.
6) Ending / restricting live phone support / agents. Delta wants you to use Delta.com more and more. When I have a schedule change or anything like that I call rather than click. Very bad things can happen when you click on things on Delta.dumb. But it costs Delta a bunch to have live people helping you. Plus, you can often get reps to do things you cannot on Delta.com. You can see why Delta will push you to have to pay, unless you are perhaps a top elite, to do anything with a live agent.
7) Lowered ALL elites to 1 free bag. Delta already has forced Silver Medallions to hold the Delta AMEX card to get 2 free bags. The massive destruction to the value of SkyMiles this year has caused, I would think, many to consider dumping their Delta co-branded credit card. A move like this would be unpopular but would cause more to keep or get a card. Delta has said that 50% of flyers pay for bag fees already – why not shoot for 75%?
8) Limit awards to Delta plus one partner only. Many other airlines have similar restrictions. We already know Delta is more than happy for you to pay for more than one award ticket if you happen to only find LEVEL 2-5 Delta metal awards for one leg and then space on partners. It would be a simple change to add yet another award fee if you mix more than one partner on your award. Now that Delta hides the award charts most would never notice this change anyway (gosh, they are sneaky).
9) Downgrade food choices on-board. Food costs money. Delta already, even on long fights, does not provide a meal in 1st class between certain times of the day. Why not just do away with most meals completely and offer sales from the cart like back in coach. It would simplify so much and increase profit margins and be another chance to offer that 20% off when they pay with the Delta AMEX card.
10) Remove Woodford Reserve. This last one I am just shocked they have not implemented already. Many don’t drink and don’t care, but for those who like a good bourbon, this change I think would really make people nuts. But, like everything else on this list, if Delta can save a dime they will.
This is quite a list. Now before anyone comments “don’t give them any ideas” we all should know REV MGT has run all the numbers for every molecule of anything that could increase the Delta bottom line and if any of these would, in their view, result in a net positive dollar value it would or will happen.
These are scary times indeed and until something changes more and more “enhancements” will be on the way. Know that Delta WILL push until you push back. Delta flights are all just packed to the gills and they really have no incentive NOT to “Keep Enhancing”. Don’t believe me? Once again, look at what they have done already! – Rene
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