The good and the bad from Delta Air Lines in 2018 plus what is on the way for 2019!

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The Delta 747 – Now a puzzle piece!

With 2018 coming to a close we all should reflect back on the year that has been. To take the time to look at the good things Delta has done (both to us and for us) as well as the bad that has been   enhanced   inflicted upon us. Oh that, and to peek ahead with what to look forward to in 2019. First the #KeepClimbing good changes!

The #KeepClimbing events!

  • Changes to the Medallion Choice Benefits Global and Regional Upgrade certificates rules. This really has been impressive. They went from you can only use them on paid tickets and you had to use one per person no matter what to use them anytime you want. You want to buy 1st class and they link reservations (all the same flights) and use it on another passenger – sure thing! You can even use them on Amex BOGO flights now. We all know space opening up to use them is a major issue but at least the rules are in place to try. These are positive changes.
  • SkyMiles sales. 2018 has been the year of, not just month “flash sales”, but all kinds of discounted SkyMiles awards. I give Delta credit for, now and then, adding value to the SkyMiles program (that really needs it)!
  • @Delta on Twitter. I know using Twitter to fix things with Delta is not new for 2018 but they really have been outstanding this year. There has been almost nothing they could not fix. Yes, I am clearly searching for anything good I can say about 2018 changes! 😉
  • Better Sky Club wifi speeds. Have you noticed anyone complain about the wifi speed in the Sky Clubs this year? Nope. Because they have been really good. Give Delta IT credit for fixing this major gripe from 2017.
  • Newspapers back in Sky Clubs. OK maybe this one is good and bad because they pulled them from the clubs in 2018 and then, when folks went nuts, they brought them back. I will give them credit for not digging in their heels and dumping them (I don’t use them but I know many do).
  • Improved food choices in Sky Clubs. Not just the food choices but even small nice improvements to Sky Clubs in many locations. Even some of the wine and other beverage choices have improved in 2018.

Now it is time for the bad list of #KeepDescending moves the mothership has landed and I hate to say it is much longer than the good list. Take a look at the pain from 2018 (and many of these surprises have come on with a flurry in just the past few weeks)!

The #KeepDescending events!

  • Two mega stealth SkyMiles devaluations in 2018. For Europe we jumped from one-way Delta one prices from 70k to 82k and the current 86k for a Level 1 award. I predict we will see two more in 2019 and may hit 100k each way as the new Level 1 award prices (when not on sale). Sad!
  • Upgrade with miles. I desperately hope folks understand this is the ultimate knife in the back of the medallion program for upgrades. This will have a massive impact and it is one of the biggest reasons for giving up the chase for status next year (for 2020). SkyMiles have truly become #SkyPennies in 2019!
  • Married segment logic has gotten much worse. Mostly for awards but even for revenue tickets. Thankfully there are still tools that work to force Delta.dumb to accept strange routing you may want on revenue tickets. But on SkyMiles awards – forget about it – on via the multi-segment page!
  • Club memberships death. I really hate this and the end of partner lounge part just stinks. I just can not believe punishing members will have THAT big an impact on overcrowding of clubs.
  • Basic SkyMiles awards. It is clear to everyone that this is, like the revenue E Basic fares, just a way to devalue points because what once was the lowest price award is now an E Basic award. You will pay more with this change. Sad.
  • Hiding the link to the 1 hour schedule change rule. The rule has not changed (that is good) but hiding the link makes it all but impossible for you to prove to a rep that you have the right to change for free if a flight has changed more than 1 hour (at once or over many changes totally 1 hour).
  • Downgrade to plastic glasses Premium Select. I know it saves weight and time and I knew the experience was “too good” on the inaugural flight. I bet we see more “coachification” of the PS experience moving forward (this after the Delta CEO said this cabin is a “business class” cabin).
  • Plastic medallion tags. I know there are a LOT of Diamond medallions but I hate the new plastic vs the old metal ones. Maybe this is just me.

Phew, that was a long list of pain and I am sorry I made you relive all the cuts we have had to be “enhanced” with this past year. Now what about 2019? Take a look about what has already been announced.

At last – after 3 years!

  • The A220 jet (even with PS seats in 1st class). This jet is going to flat out be amazing. To have a domestic jet that feels like an international jet will be a real game changer. I can not wait to fly this.
  • New Sky Clubs in many places (like AUS). More Sky Decks? Yes, please. More big new clean clubs with expanded food choices? You bet we want this. Just make sure you are flying Delta – if not – you club “members” can not come in! 😉

So there is the year in review and a quick reminder of all the changes we saw. Were there other bits I missed that you saw change for the good or the bad? Any 2019 announcements I have missed? Please comment below! – René




  1. I noticed you wrote that we will get full miles on Korean Air – that is at least good news. I booked our first trip through with Korean for January. But it is an Economy (x) fare – will I still get full Skymiles? I am very disappointed that neither airline is allowing advance seat selection with these tickets. Probably would not have bought them if I had known. Any help there?

  2. @rene – Thanks for the info. Forgive my ignorance, but since I booked through, I should accrue Delta Skymiles for the trip? based on price paid for tickets?

  3. @Tim – They will be the same as 2019. As of tomorrow we start earning for 2020 so changes would have to be out by now.

  4. So, as an example, if I buy a seat on KLM and use my Skyteam Diamond number on the reservation. I will get lounge access and much more miles based on distance instead of cost? Am I right on this? If this is true then I will start buying tickets on Skyteam partners, get lounge access that I will not be getting on a Delta ticket and get more miles because it will not be based only on price. As someone who today finished his last Delta flight of the year making 144 segments and 342,000 in the seat miles. The lounge benefit is really big and I would have raked in a bunch more miles if it was not changed to price based. Why would I ever buy from Delta? This CEO is blinded by increasing low-income customers and punishing the hi-value, hi-loyal 2% that contributes over 20% of Delta revenues. Why would he encourage Leakage instead of making Keepage a priority? Delta has the best people on the ground and in the air. Upper management are driving the high-income flyers away with disrespectful treatment and Delta IT just make it harder every day for both us and the fine people working at Delta. #keepdecending.

  5. It seemed harder to use GUC’s esp of with a partner..many fare rules to follow…and HUCB many times got many different answers

  6. I have 125 k miles and i called diamond desk. They wouldn’t give me a waiver
    What should I do?

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