You are wrong if you think paying for tickets matters more than credit card spenders to Delta (and other airlines)!

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Thanks to reader Randy we have some real insight on “How Airlines Measure Loyalty Using Big Data & Analytics” and it has some remarkable findings and information.

One of the things that always makes me the most upset is when some flyers say something to the effect of:

I wish Delta would do away with these people who game the system to earn points.


Delta needs to do away with credit card elite points all together rewarding those who pay for tickets.

Well we now know for a fact:

“Mike Hecht from Delta noted that they don’t mind whether their customers are loyal due to credit card spend, or due to bum-in-seat flying – either way they’re being loyal and should be rewarded with status.” – – BOLD MINE

And it goes much further as we well know. Today, even if you are a 1, 2 or 5 million miler this means nothing to Delta. Your upgrade is yes, dependent on your status primarily and then the fare, but we all know that “empty” seat is most likely to be sold for as little as $10 rather than reward your loyalty. That is – spending is what matters to Delta.

This spending is not limited to tickets or upgrades. Clearly Delta values the relationship with AMEX and Delta AMEX cards. But they also very richly value the monetary benefits all the partners bring. This is why you are constantly pushed and asked if your hotel and car reservations are all set or if Delta can help you. Partners matter.

This is also why so many partners that we could so benefit from are now blocked from us, that is, Delta has decided many earning partners like e-Rewards, Thanks Again and others including such useful tools like Award Wallet are now banned. They are clearly not providing the level of partner income and real value Delta requires. If they did, they would be open to us.

It is also interesting, again considering the piece, how much I do that makes me of little value to Delta (and likely you, my dear reader, as well). We push to not over spend on award. We clearly are not stupid enough to flush the value of our SkyMiles on drinks in the Sky Club or Magazine etc. Keep this in mind when you think of just what your “real” value score is to Delta. Are you really doing all they want you to?

Lastly of interest to me is the “influence” score. We see Delta, especially on Twitter, is very quick to respond to those who have great influence on others. Clearly there is a great deal that will impact just how Delta views us all. Interesting times.

So has this information changed the way you interact with Delta or your perception of what value you bring to the company? – Rene

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  1. @Rene: Stupid question regarding the $25k MQD waiver on Delta card. Does it need to be all $25k on the same card or you can have a $25k total in several Delta cards? I have 3 Amex Delta including the ones I have to have minimum spending since I just got them so want to make sure if I spend $25k in all 3 together it will qualify for the MQD waiver.

  2. Delta has been extra nice/reasonable to me a couple times recently. I’m, of course, one of your “dear readers” whose ticketing/flying behavior makes me of little value. Do you think I could be creeping up their “Influencer” chart???

  3. @Santastico – No stupid questions and I have your question on tap for a post soon (just have not had time yet). But since you asked it does not matter if 1 card or 4 cards or even AU on your cards – it is the total spend and it ends (as far as Delta cares) once you hit the 25k level in total on them all. Now as far as bonus points on the Platinum and Reserve card clearly you need all the spend on just the one card (plus AU spend also)!

  4. Does Delta reward flyers that spend, say, $100k or $50k on an DL Amex Reserve card more than someone that spends $25k?

    Is that a tiebreaker for upgrades or give you a better chance at the Porsche ride between gates?

  5. @rene: Tks. So, does the $25k also includes $ spent on Delta tickets not charged to Delta cards? I mean, $ spent on Delta tickets + $ spent on Delta cards has to equal $25k. Correct?

  6. Very interesting blog post and article. The fact that Delta offered an MQD waiver for card spenders tells us that they acknowledge that there is value in a credit card carrying customer.

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