Ideas to improve the 2017 Delta Medallion program. What Delta should add & change!

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How can Delta show they are “better”?

Delta got what they wanted. For now, all the “Big 3” UA, AA & DL have just about the same frequent flyer program (ok, more or less). The maybe unintended consequence of this is that what is offered to your elites now really matters if you are going to try to, in some way, differentiate yourself from the other airlines.

Delta has already started doing this with CLEAR bio-metric security membership free for Diamonds and discounted for other elites. A “clear”, if you will, elite reward winner over the other airlines. We need more of this. Like what?

The list I am going to suggest to Delta I think is really reasonable and possible improvements that should be considered. These are not “pie in the sky” crazy ideas but ones that I think should be added or changed. Let’s see if you, and maybe Delta (feel free to save this post Delta folks, btw), will agree with me.

  • Lift restriction on RU & GU upgrade certs. Since Delta is clearly doing everything they can to make scoring a complementary upgrade all but impossible without help. Even though I don’t have kids I know most folks do. There is no good reason for Delta to limit you to only one person on your itinerary to enjoy an RU or GU cert. Just remove this restriction. A simple and positive change that should never have been put in place.
  • Comfort Plus upgrade certs. Delta is clearly saying this is a unique product and fare. Then expand the perks of this unique product and give them to not just Diamonds but also to Platinum and even Gold Medallions. For example, 12 for Diamonds, 8 for Platinums and 4 for Golds. There is just no reason not to expand the Choices Benefits to Golds to differentiate the Medallion program over the other airlines even more than you already do.
  • Comfort Plus choice for Delta AMEX cards. Right now, since C+ is an “upgrade” per Delta, for either the personal or business Platinum or Reserve cards when choosing a coach BOGOF you are stuck in C- seats. This is just not smart. If you want to drive sales and, more importantly card retention, make these certs at LEAST C+ worthy. A simple fix and can be flaunted as an “enhancement” to the cards.
  • Gogo passes or membership. Delta clearly has a tight relationship with Gogo. There is no good reason not to offer this as a choice when so many credit cards like the old Northwest card now called the US Bank FlexPerks card are offering this perk for free each year as a card member. Allowing a Diamond to pick a free yearly membership would be a real value for reaching this top level.
  • Flight Fuel food choice when no meal in 1st class. I have talked about this one before and Delta really does an amazing job with food at 500 MPH. But they really fail either during the “meal time” on some flights from 2-4PM as well as after 8PM until breakfast begins. Simply over stock the choices and offer any ONE item off the menu for those in 1st class when there is no standard meal choice.
  • Fix Skybonus. Delta’s choice to tell small business owners that you are not worthy and we hate you is just beyond stupid. If you want to make the program more exclusive just up the MQD spend total to whatever you want. Drop the 5 employee requirement for crying out loud.
  • Rollover MQDs. Delta is singularly unique in that they allow you to keep your bonus MQMs above whatever level you are (as long as you meet the minimum MQD spend or are exempt). Rollover MQMs are brilliant as it motivates a flyer to keep flying Delta all year long as there is no incentive to switch to another airline at some point during the year. However, when it comes to spending – what is the point once you hit whatever level you are. This is just silly. Delta seems to indicate that spending really matters so why not allow the same rollover as with MQMs. This will drive more spending and that is, after all, the point.
  • Free drinks always for Diamonds. I get and like the digital HOOUs but how about just flashing your Diamond card (if not in the flight attendants GST or Skypro unit) if you want a drink anywhere in coach. Other airlines offer this so why not Delta for their top elites. Not that hard.

Personally I think all of these are reasonable improvements to the elite program that will drive loyalty to Delta now that so much as been cut. The cost to implement them, IMO, could even be offset by more high spenders moving to Delta and those with Delta choosing Delta over the others (even if the price is a tiny bit more). All it takes is for a group of top elites to start talking about the small perks that really matter week after week to make them jealous of another program. AA folks could for a long time brag about how many miles they earned – no more. In 2017 it will be all about the elite “experience”. The above changes will make Delta stand out big time!

What do you think? Are these reasonable changes and improvements to SkyMiles 2017? – René

 

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22 comments

  1. 1. Give complimentary upgrades, when space permits, just as they do domestically, for elites on intra-Asia flights out of NRT. Perhaps the only exception should be Narita-Singapore and Narita-Bangkok, as both are as long as East Coast-Europe.
    2. Bestow additional global upgrade certificates on diamonds after they hit 150,000, 175,000 and 200,000 miles. One for every 25,000 miles seems reasonable. I know someone who has flown 177,000 miles on Delta so far this year and it’s only June 17. What’s the point of staying with Delta–besides rollover miles–after 125,000 miles if you don’t get any additional benefits?
    3. Roll out the pre-flight ordered meal option A.S.A.P. This is seemingly taking forever.
    4. Complimentary in-flight internet on paid international business-class tickets, even if only for an hour or two hours. My colleague paid $10,000 for Detroit-Seoul a couple of weeks ago. She should get the internet for free with that kind of airfare cost.
    5. Slippers and pajamas on all Delta flights over 10 hours in business-class.

  2. I am most irritated that my wife has not received a “silver” bag tag for earning status.

  3. As far as ideas for improving the medallion program, besides undoing any or all of the “enhancements” of the last few years (rtw awards and stopovers would be nice), I’ll chime in on your last bullet point. Not only should DMs get drinks no matter where they sit in coach, they should also get one item from the food selection in coach. That is what AA does for EXPs. I greatly appreciate that as exit row seats are the best seats in coach.

    Another item they could copy from AA is giving DMs vouchers for premium skyclub drinks when travelling internationally regardless of class of service.

  4. Bring back a SDC policy for DMs based on available cabin space and not restricted to fare bucket. Between meeting the MQDs, MQMs/MQSs, I think there is very little doubt about where my travel dollars are going. Why not reward me with some flexibility to make all the business I do with Delta a little easier?

  5. Delta needs to improve the Sky Club and focus in on Diamond and Platinum benefit differentiation. As a Diamond I should have at least 1 free entry for a guest of my choice to the Sky Club. Clearly as a Diamond I’m a frequent flyer and wouldn’t most likely be always traveling alone. Adding this as a perk is an easy add, as with lifting the restrictions of companion fares. Traveling with my boyfriend currently to MIA from SFO. As a Diamond with a Platinum AMEX it’s ridiculous in order to sit together we have to sit in the Main Cabin because we aren’t eligible for an upgrade.

  6. Agree with all of the above. United is already giving free meal boxes to their Premier 1K members, free drinks as well. Delta can’t get behind United!!

  7. It is a shame Delta doesn’t reward Million Milers with a little more status than just Silver…..after all their was a lot of time spent in the air……at least something as small as Priority boarding. In many cases these folks are older in age and priority boarding would be a really great benefit……

  8. Hand over the ATL F SkyClub to Virgin Atlantic and let them remodel it into a Clubhouse-style SkyClub.

    (I know it’s not going to happen, but differentiating yourself is a great way to stay competitive. Giving yourself the best ground product via an airline Delta already part-owns would be a great way to do that)

  9. As a Diamond, I would be happy if they made the RUC’s and GUC’s have more clout. Every time I go to use them, there are no upgrade seats. Really stinks. If they are going to give these to their best customers, they should be valid on any flight, any time when there are revenue seats in the up front cabin. Period.

  10. Make GU and RU fully transferable without having to fly with a person. It is so nice that a UA 1K or AA can treat a family member or friend to an upgrade by “sponsoring” an upgrade cert. This is especially valuable to those of us who already purchase premium class travel.

  11. Sorry, but no way on the UG certs for Platinums!

    As a DM, I can barely use any of the R/GUC’s I’ve got. The more UG certs that are put out into a system that doesn’t have enough capacity now ruines the ability for the Diamond to use their certs.

    If you don’t like it, fly more and become a DM.

  12. Dr. John,

    You bring up a valid point regarding the availability of GU using the certs. But you didn’t have to finish the post with “If you don’t like it, fly more and become a DM.” It detracts from the point you’re trying to make.

    I think we can all agree that, in the majority of cases, the ability to become DM depends directly on the frequency of international business travel. So for most flyers it isn’t like we’re sitting at home weighing the pros and cons of “flying more” to achieve DM status.

    That being said, the more constructive solution may be for Delta to open up more seats for RUs and GUs (as suggested in a previous post) AND to provide an option for PMs to select 2 GUs in lieu of 4 RUs.

    Correct me if I’m wrong though… typically if an RU or GU isn’t available upon booking, I can go on “standby” which pops me up to the front of the complimentary upgrade list. So if there is an open seat at departure, those trying to use an RU or GU would get those seats. Am I off base here? I’m pretty sure that’s been my experience in the past – at least with RUs.

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