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