I really wish I could see the numbers. I so want to know if the bean counters running the Delta mothership have consulted psychologists and have counted the cost of up-sells vs. those who will give up on loyalty to determine if it will result in a net gain for the company. And not just for now, but for the future. If folks today are just willing to buy 1st on other airlines, since loyalty no longer matters, maybe they like the other airline more once they try them?
So what am I talking about today? First off I can promise you many Delta flyers are shamelessly compromising their principles and buying Delta up-sells. We have seen that in the February earnings number where year over year Delta was down 5.5%, while they made money up-selling and volume. But why are loyal flyers committing this act? First off they must have no backbone, conscience or character and deserve to fly the rest of the year back row middle seat for their heinous acts (ok maybe that is just my extreme view and how I feel and what I think about this topic, but just hang on and go with it for a minute). 😉
My point is that a normally respectable and upstanding Delta elite has been slowly brainwashed by Delta and cajoled by our mothership to accept, for either some cheap price, or more importantly due to the slowly declining upgrade percentages year after year, that extreme measures have to be taken to secure an upgrade that would have been, in years past, reasonably assured due to loyalty choices in always picking Delta even if it cost a little more than the competition.
Now some may say this really is just a simple equation. Delta is providing a superior product, reliability and service. Delta can simply sell, either via retail, or via FCM every single 1st class seat as it is just worth paying any price. Delta is clearly a great domestic airline and does provide a reliable product and very good service. Now at any price? That, I think, is up for debate.
To me the biggest issue is how many elites have just had it and have given up. I get comments just about every day where top elites are saying that Delta, for all it has to offer, is just not worth it anymore. If they can get a better direct flight and similar service, or even better, on another carrier just paying for business or 1st class tickets then so be it. That, to me, is what could really cost Delta both this year as well as years from now.
For the longest time I have preached that Delta, with SkyMiles and the Medallion program, had something unique. They instilled a fierce, almost irrational, dedication to only choosing Delta. This was driven not solely by operational excellence but the entire Delta experience. This includes things like upgrades but also all those little intangible things that come with loyalty to Delta as well as the rewards program. I get that this has been dying for a long time so this is just the end of a long road. But I am so sad to see this happening.
I am also, as mentioned in the title for this post, concerned about Delta’s focus on short term gains vs. long terms goals. Trust me when I tell you, most loyal elites just have no clue what is on the way 16MAY16. They really don’t. This is true about all the Delta changes until it affects them personally. They just don’t care, until they do all of a sudden. How is Delta warning us? Notice the little black box when you go to book a ticket now on Delta.com.
If you even notice it, and click more, then you get much more info but I doubt very many do click it for more information. They are focused on the task at hand, that is, the booking and trying to find the best price ticket as Delta, most times when you search, does not display the “best price” but what they think is the “best route”. My point is, even when Delta attempts to alert folks about changes they do a poor job of it (most times they just don’t tell us about changes btw and we have to find out for ourselves).
May 16th is going to be interesting. Then June 1st will be the next interesting date when super cheap fare classes are open for point upgrades to 1st class. My guess is Delta will push these and medallion upgrades percentages, as bad as they are already, will tank even further. I bet, by year end, I get Gold and Platinums telling me they got only a few upgrades all year long where as years in the past they were in the 50-75% range. When they then go to spend their SkyMiles and see insane award costs for the trip they have been saving up for, that will be the end of their loyalty to Delta. They will go “free agent” if you will (like so many have already done). Have the bean counters thought about that I wonder? – René