Real “Head Winds” facing Delta for 2016 & dates to look out for. Pain on the way for you and me!

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Last year was truly brutal for Delta frequent flyers and SkyMiles members. We suffered “enhancement” after enhancement. From hiding the award charts just weeks after they took effect to additive award prices and on and on. But that was last year.

The really scary thing is whether things can get worse in 2016. I mean is it possible for things to get worse than last year? I think they will with what is already announced as well as what could be some really sticky issues yet to be settled. Let’s take a look.

The first big one is what will happen to SkyMiles 2018. Right now we are earning for the 2017 Medallion year, but as you can tell with this handy tool, we are soon in the 331 day window where we can book flights for travel in 2017. Now those flights, since anything after 00:01 on 1JAN17, will impact our 2018 medallion year. It would be sad if Delta did not inform us if there will be changes before they start to impact us. We should know soon (we hope). Then again, Delta does like hiding info from us do they not?

The next firm date we have is 16MAY16 when no matter how loyal you are to Delta you will not be able to have your wife / +1 join you in C+ seating or Comfort Plus without paying a fee. The funny thing about this change is few get it is on the way. I talk to a ton of elites each time I fly (I do run a blog after all) and sad to say most are just clueless about what is on the way. They just fly and are shocked time after time when they “suddenly” learn of whatever change has begun to impact them. I really think Delta has underestimated how “hoppin’ mad” this will make folks. Maybe the rumored C+ upgrades coupons will soften this with other Medallion updates.

The other nasty one is also coming this summer, again 1JUNE16, when MANY fare class will be able to upgrade to 1st class. Granted, the upgrades will be at beyond BAT CRAZY prices, but I have to warn you many “fools” will pay these prices not understanding they could have simply purchased the ticket for the price they are paying to ride in the pointy end of the jet. This will be the summer of discontent let me tell you.

Then we have the news that I think my fellow BoardingArea blogger Gary put out the best post on the topic this week that Delta has AGAIN this week jumped the award prices for tickets 1OCT16. So there is yet one more date for us to fear. It is so nice of Delta to hide the award charts so the mass population of frequent flyers will have no idea of this latest devaluation. Sad.

The next date we just don’t know about but it is the possible date Delta pilots could go on strike this year if necessary. Now, to be clear they have not said they will do this (yet), but if our mothership is as disrespectful with these fine men and women who fly Delta jets as they are with loyal elite medallions, oh I think we will see strikes sometime this summer. You know what, I hope they do and I support their efforts. Heck I could ask Delta to put me on American then. Oh wait, no I can’t, cuz Delta dumped interlining with AA this year. Sigh.

Don’t forget about Delta FAs possibly joining a union. Sure last year (learned about it a year ago on 13JAN15) was ugly but don’t forget that now Delta has a “fare class” for C+ and mark my words that “normal” flyers, that is, not you and me, will expect 1st class-lite service for this upgrade. They will be truly upset if Delta FAs don’t provide 1st class-ish service. That will not sit well. I expect a pro-union vote if it comes up again. Not saying they should, just that I think it will likely happen.

Then we have oil. Most think it will go lower before it goes higher. But what if it jumps up to $50 or $75 per barrel. Then what? Delta is still flushing money on hedging against this but only at low levels. There is no way higher oil will not have an impact on Delta. What then?

What about government involvement? At some point, with all but a monopoly with only 3 large airlines in the US, intervention could happen as it sure seems like they are all working the system to get what they want. Even if they are not, the government may step in to ensure they don’t!

Lastly we have change in leadership. So many are saying the current group (including the CEO) is soon about to retire and some of the lower ranks will move up. They will then have to “prove” themselves to be the match of the current lot of top folks. To me that means even deeper cuts and higher fees and costs. That may not work as folks are already fed up to beyond tolerable levels. This could get really ugly folks.

Oh this year is going to be “fun” to see what happens. I am still flying Delta this year, as promised, to reach my 1 MILLION MILE status with the airline. After that, who knows. Alaska seems like a very nice airline – does it not? – René


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  1. I’ve said it a million times, we are in this mess because the government allowed so many mergers. There is no where take take our business when we are dis-satisfied. Especially now that the 3 just copy each other. No true competition.

  2. Alaska is a great airline. It beats delta in many operational areas. Over the last few years it has had the largest percentage increase in stock price in the industry, and it has not outsourced management of its ff program to delta. I wish it had a bigger footprint in the East.

  3. I wish Kroger would tell me in advance when they are going to raise the price of milk, but they don’t and life goes on.

  4. Recently I moved to the Pacific Northwest and started flying Alaska quite a bit, with a status match from Delta to MVP 75k and I must say I am very impressed. Nice flight attendants, 100% upgrades so far, good operational records and while the food is not as good as Delta, it’s always served. Food on short routes and all times of the day is actually really nice. I take a flight PDX-SFO often and on Delta this would just be a a snack basket. On Alaska you get a bowl of oatmeal on the 7am flight with some fruit and I just really appreciate that. It does make a big difference in my day to be well fed without adding in time for breakfast in the early morning.
    I still fly Delta when the routing is better and often to Europe (nice directs), but I am very pleased with Alaska so far. I’ll try much harder to requalify for MVP 75k than for any Delta status.

  5. A gloomy buy likely prescient article. Quite the change from just a couple of years ago. Don in ATL hit the nail right on the head in that there’s just been too much consolidation allowed.

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