Oh Delta. Just how cheap can you go (wait, maybe I don’t want an answer to that question when I think about it)? I mean really! Quality does matter if you are going to send us something to use on our frequent flyer bags (vs. just selling them on Ebay for a few bucks). Are you confused? Let me explain what I am sorta ranting about today.
“Back in the day” Delta used to send out a medallion credential kit to everyone who became a medallion (all levels). Then Delta decided in Feb of 2015 that if you “only” fly enough to become a Silver Medallion you would no longer get anything in the mail from Delta. The following year Delta took a rather shocking step in doing the same thing with Gold Medallions. Why shocking? Once you hit that elite level you are a Skyteam Elite+ and having real (not just printed on paper) credentials can impact your ability to get into Skyteam lounges or even mean the difference between paying for a bag and not (at some airports).
Now Delta does stress (in RED) that you can always pull up your elite Medallion card in the Fly Delta App (if it is working and you don’t have issues with off-line mode, that is). You can also do the smart thing and do a screen shot of the digital elite Medallion card so connectivity does not matter. But, as so many readers will attest to, some partner airports and lounges will simply not accept the digital card as proof of your status – they want to see the “real” card vs. a printed one. They should not care about the real card nowadays because it no longer has a bar code or magnetic strip on the back but again, that does not seem to matter sometimes.
When Delta first invented the new Diamond Medallion top elite level all the luggage “Brag Tags” for charter members were plastic (all the elite level tags mailed out were plastic). But plastic tags tend to break and get ripped off luggage (or even some say just stolen) but Delta allowed you “back in the day” to simply click on reorder on Delta.com but that ended the better part of 3 years ago.
Delta fixed this issue by sending out metal tags (even if they sometimes took a while to show up) that could really take lots of abuse and lasted for those flying Delta all the time month after month. Well, now we are back to cheap plastic tags for all Diamond Medallions.
Well maybe not “all” Delta Diamonds because the Delta360 Diamonds still get metal tags (HT to David on Twitter) and they are meant to really stand out this year vs. years past when they looked like standard Diamond tags but with the words 360 on them.
So what – does any of this really matter at all? Well as I have proven, putting your elite tags on your bags can impact the way Delta folks treat you and it can help your travels now and then. But the plastic ones break and fall off I doubt paper printed ones will hold up any better (plus, it seems, ordering you own replacements has been shut down by Delta as well).
Now on to my feelings on the tag controversy? Is this really just one more step in the cheapening of the elite program? Clearly Delta will save a buck (or charge you a buck) anywhere and any way they can. Some “el-cheap’o” changes get changed back if we push hard enough (enjoy your newspapers again in the Sky Clubs). I personally liked the metal tags as they were durable and hold up during my year of flying Delta – I seriously doubt these new cheap plastic ones will last!
I sure am not going to raise a stink or try to start a movement to bring the metal ones back. But to me this is yet one more indication of lessening value of elite status overall. Upgrades are hard to get when Delta keep selling them out from under us as low as $9.95 each. Finding Global or Regional upgrade space (with the help of a phone rep since we can not search ourselves) is becoming harder than a unicorn walking down the street. Even, next year, Sky Club membership no longer really becomes true membership as you will only enjoy that when you are flying Delta.
You tell me. Is this change much ado about nothing or does it bug you at all? Do you put your brag tags on your bags or do they go in a sock drawer each year? Do you carry your real Delta SkyMiles card with you or is the digital one enough for you? Let me, and us, know in the comments below! – René
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