Mind blowing results from 2018 J.D. Powers Airline Loyalty Study (btw Delta ranked 4th)!

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

JD Powers awards

I make a lot of assumptions about my fellow frequent flyers. I assume most seasoned flyers understand, for example, the current Delta upgrade rules (they are not that hard). But then I find some don’t even get the most basic rules and how to maximize your shot at a complimentary upgrade (to first class since C+ is just not worth it).

From JD Powers Study

A few weeks back I posted about how Delta is again bragging about “winning” the #2 spot in US News frequent flyer awards survey. Well this week J.D. Powers has one out called “Confusing Airline Loyalty Programs Have Fewer Satisfied Customers, J.D. Power Finds” and Delta ranked just a weee bit lower compared to the competition (they came in 4th). Not surprising to me at all. But there were some mind blowing revelations from the study. Take a look

“… half of general loyalty program members say they do not completely understand how their program works and, among status members, 30% say they do not completely understand their program”

There are few things that motivate me to blog each week more than findings like the above. When I earn ANY points in any program I take the time to learn all I can and how to maximize the redemption. Now that I am back into cruising, as one example, I took the time to “float” up the elite ranks with NCL as fast as I could (I am currently Platinum on the way to Platinum Plus) and when it comes to booking my cruise I end up paying about 10-20% of retail out of pocket and almost always book a suite or higher.

Now I get that Delta does make it somewhat hard to understand all the best parts of the program but to me learning about all the ways to use the program is fun and part of the adventure of travel. Maybe I am in the half that gets it – you? There is more.

“Nearly three-fourths (74%) of airline loyalty program members prefer to save their points/miles to redeem larger rewards, while 13% prefer to redeem their points for quick discounts.”

I want everyone to get this – Delta DESPERATELY wants you to flush your SkyMiles in ridiculous ways. Why? THEY get value when you act foolishly. I want YOU to get value and it seems at least a vast majority of flyers at least understand that taking time to redeem for long trips or premium cabins is where real value lies. What they do NOT talk about, and is simply critical when it comes to Delta, is not over spending your SkyMiles when it comes time for those larger rewards (need help, please ask Adam)! One last part and a warning:

“Increased mobile app use associated with higher satisfaction: Nearly half (46%) of loyalty program members say they have the program’s mobile app on their phone or tablet, but less than half of those say they use it. Among members who have the app, satisfaction is significantly higher when they use the app frequently.”

Delta Android App features

We Delta folks need to be very careful when it comes to Delta IT. They, like all of Delta SkyMiles, are not driven to get you value but focused on extracting value from you. I personally do very much like the Fly Delta App (even though I use a version that is almost 1 year old now vs. updating). But when it comes to booking awards – be careful. Just because something is simple does not necessarily mean you are getting max value and especially so when you start looking at awards that include Delta Skyteam partners. Also, without giving away bits that I simply can not blog about, there are things you can do on Delta.com from a PC that you can not do on the app for max rewards (let that sink in as you likely read this on your phone)!

Delta.com screen shot.

Anyway, I do think it is rather funny that Delta on their PR site has an entire tab dedicated to JD Powers studies but I have a sinking suspicion that they will not be promoting winning the 4th spot. Then again, when you can come in 2nd for two years in a row in another one and brag about winning I guess anything is possible if you spin it the right way. – René



  1. The 50% and 30% figures greatly understate the percentage of general and status members, respectively, who “completely understand”
    their programs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *