Travel Related

What are the things Delta is currently doing that make flyers crazy? What needs to change in 2018?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wide open but ZERO GU space! Really Delta?

Before we dive into this I want to make a few things clear. First, there are a number of things we can gripe about but, since they are seemingly fixed in stone, Delta is not going to change them. What I want to focus on are things that make frequent flyers crazy and that Delta could, if they wanted to, change. Let’s dive in and see if you agree with me.

  • GU & RU space. That is, Global and Regional Upgrade certificate open space. Delta provides these to elites and we can choose them as a Choice Benefit but even when not a single seat is sold in 1st class i.e. the entire cabin is empty, Delta revenue management blocks reps from allowing us to use these perks of traveling and spending big with Delta. How to fix it? At least when the cabin is empty allow us to use them. Maybe you have other suggestions and I am open to hear about them.
  • GU & RU search. Only slightly less maddening, beyond the lack of space above, is the fact that we as users are not able to use Delta.dumb to actually search for open space before we go to use our certs. Having to call Delta reps and have them tell us no – no – no is frustrating but we never know how diligent they are at looking at ALL the open dates and routes for open upgrade space. Delta, give us the power to search and we will do the work!
  • GU to PS & D1S. Last gripe in connection with certs and that is the fact that Delta makes us burn another global upgrade cert if we (foolishly, btw) use one to upgrade from coach to Premium Select and then want to upgrade to Delta One Suites. Sorry Delta, but the least you could do is if D1S space opens up, and we have burned a cert to get to PS, allow us then for no additional cert “cost” to move all the way up front. This one is not hard.
  • Blocked seat maps. This bug has been ongoing since May of this year. Delta clearly has no interest in fixing this maddening bug. We also know this bug has spread to impact phone reps screens too. Spend the money or hire the folks to fix this super frustrating IT mega-bug!
  • Selling cheap upgrades. I get you want to eke out every penny you can, Delta, but if you are going to so cheapen the Medallion complimentary upgrade experience by selling upgrades so cheap (think as low as $9.95) then any Tom, Dick and Harry is going to jump on them and elites get to fly in coach, always. This is just not OK. Get the IT folks to put in, no matter how short or long the flight is, a bottom floor minimum price (think $100+) for any segment upgrade for sale. Make money and at the same time be fair to elites. I do not know programming, but could not a simple “if-then” statement work?
  • Skybonus 5 flyer rule. Skybonus was once a great business program to motivate folks to always buy and fly Delta. Then they started to devalue the program as bad as SkyMiles. But even worse was the change that you must have at least 5+ flying each year (at least one flight) to be part of the program. Why do you hate small business people and entrepreneurs, Delta? Go back to rewarding anyone who is a small business owner and chooses to always fly Delta!
  • MQSs do not roll over. Delta made mega changes to the medallion program this year. Some good and some bad. But believe it or not tons of folks qualify on segments and there is no reason they can not enjoy the same rollover perk that those of us who qualify on MQMs enjoys. Delta, would it kill you to have a loyal segment flyer rollover say 10 segments into next year?
  • The 250k Amex MQD exempt spend number. Now I know for 99% of the population this number is A) not attainable or B) just stupid to spend THAT much on a Delta co-branded credit card (especially when SkyMiles are worth so little compared to other points). I am OK with this number but clearly it is a mistake to have gone this big. Roll this one back. I think had they made it $100,000 i.e. 4x what the old price was folks would have said WOW but at the same time it would have been a more reasonable number that could be justified by most folks.
  • Auto Check-in for Fly Delta App. Delta is clearly touting this as a perk. It is not. It is a mistake. I will keep using the old version of the app with my Android phone until there is a choice in the app to OPT-OUT of the stupid auto check-in when you open the app “feature”. Again, hire the needed IT folks to fix this stupid idea.
  • No notice on seat changes. This last one is just beyond comprehension. We all work so hard to pick the perfect seats and Delta (almost) never tells us when we are booted out of them. Award Wallet tells me when other airlines change my seats but Delta blocks them from doing this simple service. At a bare minimum allow Award Wallet back in. Or, another idea, email us when you dump us out of our chosen seats? Is your IT department not capable of this?

So there you are. Again, I get there are any number of other things we could gripe about, but Delta is just not going to fix or address them. They like them the way they are. However, the above items they COULD fix if they just wanted to. Do you agree? – René


PS – There has been a MEGA Delta Schedule Change Saturday event this past weekend. I do not think even one of my dozens of Delta flights were NOT impacted in some way. I will be following my own advice and checking alternative flights for each segment before I CALL (do not go click’in on stuff on Delta.dumb) and have Delta reps clean up the mess that has been presented to me!

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I simply hate Delta for this change: The 250k Amex MQD exempt spend number. It is not fair. It rewards major loyalty to Delta with a kick in the teeth. It restricts Diamond status to an impossible level for most of us to ever reach. It is also incoherent, since the AmEx card stops rewarding with MQM bonus after $60k. And in all honesty, @Rene, when this was first announced, you seemed to embrace it, and that was disappointing. That should have been a fighting point on behalf of a reading community that enjoys your work very much otherwise. Here I did not feel that you had our back! And Delta certainly does not.

    • @Malcolm – The 250k was a win vs no spend at all. I agree it is WAAAAYYYYYY to high (as posted) but better than none at all is my poin.

  2. With so much wrong, why do you still support them? Idk why anyone supports DL and their antics. I was just looking for a flight today ATL-HNL and for the dates that I prefer, the ticket was $1000 in basic economy. Basic economy, really!? Do you know how far it is to HNL!? I admit, they have a good product (& I’m sure they know that) but nothing they offer (hard AND soft product) is worth double the price of another airline or the inconvenience of connecting in another’s city on AA or United or any other airline for that matter.

    • @Jamal – I choose to try to improve them. Plus, they are much better than the other 2 big choices. Now if I lived out west I would fly Alaska always!

  3. So the whole $250K AmEx/Delta spend requirement is, as you say, not realistic (or practical) for many. At the very core it is a foolish way to use any spend since the return is in SkyMiles.  Other hybrid currencies (AmEx Membership Rewards, FlexPerks, Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Points, even CapitalOne cashback) options are much better uses of one’s spending.With that said, Juicy Miles has developed a unique strategy to help not only Delta flyers, but flyers of all the major US domestic (and to a lesser degree international airline programs) attain elite status with much less ‘out of pocket’ spend.With RenésPoints we have partnered to offer amazing Mileage Runs that are not dead but very much alive in the techniques to earn elite status for the lowest costs. We also have to the ability to search for award space on most airlines; including Delta!You can find out more at JuicyMiles where a team of 36 travel professionals who know the ins and outs of every airline, program and alliance stand by ready to make magic happen for Award Bookings as well as Mileage Runs!

  4. Your list of issues is spot on. Everything I hate about Delta concisely listed in one blog. Print this and mail 1000 copies to Ed.

  5. The $250K spend required on ADR, but they won’t ever fix this because they don’t care.

  6. These IT issues are not bugs, but deliberate policy programs. Bugs are errors—-these are not! The systems are working as intended and blaming them on bugs is just an excuse. True, the major outages are problematic to a larger issue—-namely cheap outsourcing and offshore contracting. But Delta is purposely implementing these inconveniences to increase revenue. Seat map blocking is just one example of this.
    Maybe if enough folks book refundable FC seats and cancel at last minute, they will start to get the message. Unused GU and RU certificates should be allowed to rollover, at least for a few months. And those trying to use them should take priority over ALL other upgrades.

  7. I wish delta still allowed me to hold an award ticket reservation for even just 24 hours. My husband buys his ticket and I use his miles for an award ticket. As it is now, I book my award ticket then he tries to book his flight to match mine. If he can’t, then I have to re-deposit the miles and start all over. When delta allowed the hold, it was a much simpler process. As a platinum, it isn’t as much of problem because I can cancel my booking for no fees, etc., it just was easier the old way.

    My other complaint is that, if I book an award ticket for a family member and then they don’t use the ticket, I can’t just cancel the ticket and the miles are re-deposited. For some reason, I always get an error message saying the miles were not taken from the account that is canceling. Thus, I have to call to cancel and I waste the time of both myself and the delta agent. Again, if delta allowed me to hold a ticket, then it could all be done on line.

    I also wonder who gets these $9.95 upgrade offers. I always check for my husband to see what the amount to upgrade would be and it has never been a reasonable enough offer to take.

    One other complaint and I’ll stop. We have four Amex cards and get the companion ticket offers. We have used the companion ticket once in all the years they’ve been offered. Either I get the, “oops, your dates aren’t available, go check again” or the the price is more than what two tickets individually would be. Wish I knew the secrets to using those.

  8. Do not get me wrong on this one. I do love dogs. However, when I pay to upgrade my seat in coach to 10c and the lady in 10a has her dog on its leash, why does that dog then sit at my feet and not hers. If that dog was a service dog, then it should have been at her feet or lap. We were coming from my daughter’s house where she has a dog that has been all over me. I guess the service dog, (my guess), smelled dog on me. Well, the extra leg room I paid for, got used by the dog. Hey, I never petted the dog since I do not do that to someone I do not know. All the attendants thought the dog was wonderful, pretty, great, etc. so none of them were going to address it sitting in the area where you are not supposed to have anything. I was not going to say anything to the owner where she could go postal on me. What seemed so simple, was so strange. And, I do love dogs. Kept my mouse shut on this one. Delta, just give me my upgrade money back.

  9. Very good article Renee. Unfortunately it was wasted because what they are doing is deliberate and therefore a post like yours will not change anything.
    While I am sure there are some wonderful people working at Delta, there are some who enjoy hurting others. They enjoy hurting others for the fun of it. I am not kidding about this because correcting the items on your list will make no difference in their profits, and if it somehow did, the difference would be minuscule and would not impact the bonus received by management. The problems you listed will NOT be fixed because it gives a few individuals pleasure to hurt loyal Delta customers.

  10. The one thing I hate about Delta is that if you have an award ticket and and an emergency happens within 72 hours (yes this did happen once) then you forfeit your miles. You cannot redeposit them or change them in any way. IDK of any other airline with this policy. It truly sucks!

  11. Totally agree on the GUC/RUC complaints. I got burned when the agent told me there was confirmable space available and I went to select my GUCs early only to find out that she was dead wrong. This being 300-331 days out with full flexibility, still zero availability. That’s just ridiculous. The whole GUC roulette causes more angst than creating positive feelings from customer towards Delta. Why punish your best customers?

  12. While everything you say is spot-on, it makes no difference.
    The current leadership at Delta are true believers and they believe they are smarter than the guys who came before them.

    True believers don’t need to look at the past. They have found the formula to be profitable forever. Loyalty no longer matters. They haven’t said it; they don’t need to, all their actions prove it.

    I have been a Silver M since it took 5 TALT segments (after they bought Pan Am). Every so often I’d be a GM, as I will be in 2018.
    What’s important to know, is that I did value being an FO.

    For 20 years, from the early ’90’s to 2008, I’d get upgraded domestically about a third of the time. Even on the TALT (DL, KLM or AF) route, if I asked nicely and the GA had an empty seat. they would give it to me about 1 in 5 times.

    That hasn’t happened in 9 years. But I stayed loyal, as much out of habit then anything else.
    In the past 12 months, my life has taken a big change and I now fly TPac a couple times per year. So this year I’ve earned 80k MQM without bonuses. But I had to boost my MQD so I even flew 3 segments in J for $5,000 in my own money to get to Gold.
    Worse, and even writing about it makes me feel incredibly foolish, I have spent more than $9,000 on Delta this calendar year.

    Through this all, I always used I NEVER looked at Orbitz or [other OTAs]. Occasionally I’d have to call to get the routing I wanted and I always had top notch service.

    So what changed?
    A very frustrating call to Delta, the first I EVER remember, in which the Delta rep and her supervisor, somehow saw less options than I could see at the same time on for a Business class flight from LAX to SGN and return.
    How was that possible?

    Because of that one poor call, I started looking at Orbitz. Who knew that on many of the routes I fly, TATL for instance, Delta is so non-competitive? I certainly didn’t.

    Then I found sites like this and FlyerTalk that I have found incredibly helpful.
    Delta is telling us in so many ways that loyalty is simply not important to them anymore. Sure, it’ll take a while for many of us to figure it out, but they are true believers, they don’t need us.
    We’re the chumps, the marks. That’s what they believe.

    Oh, I’ll still fly Delta for the coming months and into next year.
    But they don’t care about me. Every NR friends and family fly up front before me. That worked well for Alitalia too.

    Who cares about me?
    The LCC that is licking their chops, watching the three US legacy airlines piss on every customer they have spent the last 30 years to earn their business and now, seemingly overnight, we don’t matter,

    10 years from now, the world will be different. Want to see what it looks like? Just look at Europe. I haven’t flown intra-Europe any national airline in Europe in 10+ years. i remember visiting Ryan Air 20 years ago and thinking what a novelty airline they were. the joke was on me.

    When the profits stop and they will stop, without loyal customers to build the base again, they will find themselves wondering where it all went. They won’t have far to look.

  13. I know there are DL trolls who read the comments… This is for YOU!

    This is the first time in three years we are not flying in December to max out MQM’s. We’ve bought tickets to Italy, Spain and Cabo in an effort to guarantee status the next year all while knowing I’ll fly at least 125K for work. This process tied me to DL for the next year and with the recent changes there are no reasons to do this.

    Well, this year DL is getting a lump of coal in their stocking and not another $2-3K of direct spend from me. Oh, and the Reserve card has been retired. I’ll continue to be a DM based on my work travel requirements, but that is it.

    Starting in 2018, once DM status is attained there’ll be no reason to step foot on DL. Additional spend means nothing.

    And, Rene’ you forgot to add the changes about access to the SC only of DL metal or the new restrictions with partner clubs for 2019.

  14. all of the above are a definite PIA but for me–the Sky Bonus was the worse. I own my own company consisting of me–and use contract employees as needed. I added my immediate family to my ’employees’ but that wasn’t enough–so I’m not a COMPANY in their eyes–even though I’ve been Platinum for years.

  15. Richard Wiid Reply

    Delta is going to do whatever they want to. Great for shareholders, cruddy for flyers. I’m diamond for 2018 and its all a waste, won’t step foot on another Delta flight.

  16. Great ideas Rene….. GU/RU Space……..they need to open up more space (there is no reason they shouldn’t) and give us the ability to search for open space.

    In regards to the MQM Waiver they needed to do something to thin the herd of Diamonds……there are way too many “casual” Diamond flyers which is part of the reason (secondary to the FCM) offers for the decrease in upgrades….it seems like every flight I am on out of ATL now has 5 or more Diamonds on it at least.

  17. I guess Delta just wants to make their IT peeps look bad as they do not let them fix anything@!!No matter how much feedback they get from all of US!!!!!

  18. The $250k spend is outrageous and now even though I have 650,000 MQM miles I will not make DM from now on. Even though I have been diamond since the program started. I always rely on this $25k spend to make DM. Thanks Delta but I am moving on to other airlines, I have wasted even time and money on your company. I will also move as much of my business employees flights away from delta and even give my employees incentives to fly other airlines so delta feels it in the pocket book as much as possible.
    Delta really knows how to stick a knife in and ruin a good thing.
    Bon voyage Delta

  19. The reduced and delayed avaialability do GU is a deal breaker for me. While you used to be able to get a GU weeks if not months before flight, they now leave you hanging till the last moment, which makes the whole process less fun, even if you do eventually get upgraded (the pleasant anticipation of a long flight in business is gone). The Medalion call line agents seem as baffled by this as I am.
    Because for me this is the main advantage of being a Diamond (which I have been since inception), and given that using miles for business class is prohibitively costly with Delta, I am diversifying, including my upcoming RTW trip (with One World).

  20. Tom (aka Delta First) Reply

    Rene, for the past 10 years I’ve been a loyal Delta flyer. It was special because I felt like I was part of the Delta family. Richard Anderson did a great job of promoting that special feeling. I’ve been a Diamond Medallion since the beginning when Diamond was created. I believe 2018 will be my last year flying predominately on Delta and Sky team. Loyalty works both ways, I don’t feel it anymore. This new CEO Ed Bastion has made it perfectly clear to me that the family feeling is no more. I don’t really understand why Delta would intentionally drive it’s most loyal customers away but there you have it. I’m just one of many that don’t see any difference now between Delta and the service of the 2 remaining legacy U.S. carriers, 3 if you count SW. I’m now flying a lot more AA and will fly UA if the schedule works and Delta when the route is an absolute Government contract fare. That said, it’s really a shame and I’m sad to see a company like Delta implode like this. I’ll spend my personal travel dollars where I’ll save the most less the deep discounts like Spirit and others. Bottom line is Delta had an opportunity to stay above UA and AA and chose to squander the good will of the most loyal Delta flyers when cost of a ticket mattered less. Like I said, loyalty is a two way street.

  21. I am about 20,000 miles short of being a million miler and everyone of those miles were butt in seat over my career. I now have about 40K in my account now. Delta has screwed up their program so much in so many ways. The shame is the people on the ground are always very nice. I enjoy their business class product.

    They are so stingy with their award points.

    I honestly do not care to hit the 1,000,000 level.

  22. Totally agree! Specially the Skybonus point. They are leaving us with less and less perks to continue flying with Delta only.

  23. GU space. If not open up – give another option. Select 2 instant upgrade GU’s. No space available crap just call and boom. I’d be willing to have half the GUC’s if they were guaranteed availability.

  24. Delta’s motto: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy”.

  25. Diamond here.

    I really hate the $250k waiver requirement!

    But I think this going to force a lot of travelers to qualify through the $15k MQDs spend, which is *exactly* what Delta is seeking. I bet they crunched the numbers and found that a lot of people are on the button with the $15k spend and might spend a little more in order to hit Diamond. (or not be so concerned with seeking the lowest price out)

    • I’m going to get to $15k next year and then fly other carriers because it doesn’t roll over the next year. I’ve got $25k this year but I won’t next year, it doesnt roll over, delta competitor will get the extra money because of how badly they have ruined the loyalty program.

  26. Hey Rene — on this topic .. it seems to me through informal straw polls that pretty much everyone hits MQMs through miles flown (not MQS) and hits MQD through card spend.

    Would love to see a poll online to learn about your readership!

    If you do this, would be good to have a “which do you hit first, if you hit both” .. because I bet Delta does something like that to determine in-year timing for those who move to higher status and/or get more value .. this may really just apply to Diamonds, as it might vary a bunch more at lower levels .. roll-over miles might also influence ..

  27. I find it easy to get GU space, but I do it through phone calls, usually before I book a certain flight/route.

Write A Comment