I love being a Delta Diamond Medallion. While my “free” upgrade percentage is melting away faster than ice-cream under a hot Georgia summer sun, I still get amazing perks that help to somewhat make up for this new sad reality. In the past 7 years I can tell you only once or twice have I had to pay any kind of fee that Delta normally charges to non-elites every day.
But these are really strange times in the travel space. Most airlines are crushing it on profits but at the same time always looking for more-more-more! Heck, United, being United, is even going after folks who have booked too many “hidden city” tickets (i.e. dumping a leg to save some money). This practice is NOT against the law but it is against the COC or contract of carriage you agree to when buying an airline ticket. Then again, some courts are pushing back against airlines who are punishing consumers when they try to use part of what they paid for legally!
The point is the airlines are running out of things to charge us for that either A) will not land them in trouble with the courts or lawmakers or B) find new ways to charge us for what once was free (think Basic E fares that are not really lower than what was coach before). So what can airlines do? It is simple and really scary.
A reader, we will call him “Bob” to protect the innocent, got a threatening call and “cease and desist” type letter from Delta Corp recently. I would love to publish it but to keep Bob safe I will just do a Q&A with him about the letter’s contents.
René – Hi “Bob”, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.
Bob – Absolutely! I have been enjoying your blog for years.
René – So what is your current status level with Delta and have you been an elite for many years?
Bob – I have been a Medallion at different levels for over 30 years.
René – How often do you fly Delta? Is it mostly for work?
Bob – Consistently 3-5 times a month – sometimes more. Yes, mostly for work.
René – So you clearly have to call the Delta elite line now and then (a published perk of elite status). What did they tell you about your calling habits?
Bob – I received a call, and follow up letter, from a representative from Delta and was basically told that I had used the medallion line too much and that I should look up answers to my questions on delta.com. I was also told that I had received too many “favors” which is strange because I never specifically asked for anything and as of this year have not called the medallion line that much.
René – Yikes! That does not sound good. What other things did they gripe to you about.
Bob – I was shocked! It seems Delta does not want passengers to be able to pay the difference in fare (even within the first 24 hours that allows you to cancel for free) of a ticket to move from E fare tickets to main cabin. A lot of companies force employees to use travel sites that force purchasing of basic economy tickets and I like to pay the difference to upgrade to main cabin.
René – So wait – Delta brags, during their quarterly $DAL conference calls, about buy-ups but they are complaining you are too often giving them more money to fly a ticket that is no longer E Basic fare class? Really?
Bob – Yes, Really. I was surprised as well. In all my years of travel all airlines have allowed a flyer to pay the difference between fares (example – main cabin to first). I think I did two buy ups from basic economy this year. It is my understanding from the representative that called me that Delta has lost a ton of money on these fares. What I don’t understand is why they would not allow a buy up within the first 24 hours when a ticket can be canceled or modified. Especially since basic economy is on what seems every route.
René – Did they share anything else you can comment about? Has this changed the way you feel about Delta and loyalty?
Bob – The overall feeling from the call and letter was for me to spend more dollars on flights. I believe that Delta is making a huge mistake only going after the top dollar flyers. If the economy goes down those who are top 1% flyers will sit at home. The message from Delta over the past few years is money money money from flights. While Delta is a wonderful airline that overall does a great job, chasing the dollar over travel loyalty is discouraging. When I chat with other medallions most feel the same that loyalty has come down to dollars and no better benefits for working harder to gain status.
René – Thank you Bob for taking the time to chat with me. This is just crazy and eye opening!
Bob – Thank you for always helping flyers on Delta. Hopefully, Delta at least changes their policy on Basic Economy Fare tickets and allows buy ups. Your blog not only gives a voice to issues that hopefully Delta reads but gives valuable advice to those of us flying Delta on a regular basis.
So there you are, folks. Delta always, always, always thanks you for your loyalty – just don’t use this too much or ask for too many favors in 2019. Also keep in mind that Delta can, legally, dump you out of SkyMiles (and the Medallion program) at any time and for any reason. Think of this if your SkyMiles award account has grown a bit too large this year!
Have you received a call or letter from Delta warning you about too many waivers or calls to the Medallion line? If you got one, or for other reasons, are you reconsidering keeping your medallion status with Delta for next year? Gosh don’t you miss this old Delta promise from years ago? – René