Delta, the mega corporation i.e. $DAL stock, is scared.
They should be.
Many of us stopped flying — and they run an airline that, well, depends on people getting on their jets. I would not be shocked to see the company’s share price (which has almost dropped in half) fall back into the teens.
Bloomberg posted the other day “Coronavirus Will Change How We Shop, Travel and Work for Years“.
They are right. Coronavirus COVID-19 will have a massive impact on the planet for years to come — even if a cure rolls out sometime this year.
People will change how — and if — they travel both for personal and business reasons. Many companies who until now didn’t practice telecommuting and virtual meetings may discover they love it.
Delta and the travel industry will take a very long time to reach where it was in 2019.
I find it ironic that Delta has, for years, been striving for “20 by 2020” — that is, no more than 20% of empty first class seats by 2020 for “free” (not really “free” as we earn our status) medallion upgrades.
They all but reached this by selling upgrades for as little as ONE DOLLAR per seat rather than “giving” them to loyal elites. Now it could be that in 2020, Delta may only earn 20% of the income they earned in the past i.e. 20 by 2020 could have a much darker overtone.
So when people once again, whenever that is, start flying what can Delta do to start to earn back loyalty? I have a rather long list and most of them are just rolling back things to what they once were.
- End Delta “DieMiles.” Especially now, of all times, it is utterly shameful that Delta has one of the WORST policies when a loyal elite dies. Allow, for free, for the SkyMiles to be given to the family if a SkyMiles member dies.
- Bring back stopovers on SkyMiles awards. It costs Delta nothing to allow you or me, along our journeys, to stop at a city on the way for a few days and enjoy it. This one thing alone could double the value of my SkyMiles.
- Set a limit on the sale of 1st class upgrades. Delta, before the virus, was PROUD of the fact that the crack IT folks have worked out that they can digitally push a notice to you that you can spend just a few tiny SkyMiles to upgrade to 1st class. This has to end. Set a minimum on these up-sells of say at least $100 for a 1-hour flight. $200 for a 2-hour flight and so on.
- Rollback the $250,000 Amex Diamond MQD waiver. It was a victory, of sorts, that we were able to prevent Delta from completely eliminating the Amex MQD spend waiver. But clearly it is bat crazy to spend ¼ million dollars on a Delta Amex card (FYI: the Platinum Medallion and below waiver is still just $25,000 in spend). Delta should roll this mega number back to sanity. Maybe $60,000 or $120,000 to match the bonus spend levels with the Delta Reserve card?
- Remove the 5 people flying Skybonus requirement. If Delta wants small business folks to again be drawn to Delta motivate them again to care about SkyBonus. Why punish a small business owner who maybe has just two or three folks flying (or even just the one)?
- Rollback punishing Same Day Change (SDC) rules. SDC really matters for frequent flyers. The rules used to be simple and flexible. 24 hours before your flight you could change if there was a seat (even with awards). Then Delta made it mostly fare class-dependent — all but ending SDC for all but expensive tickets.
- Allow waivers for E-Basic fares for elites. Delta has been, for the past year, widening the gap between BASIC fares that have mega restrictions and the lowest coach fares. I get Delta loves to compete with low-cost airlines with the cheap fare bucket, but they should allow frequent flyers waivers from the restrictions they impose on non-frequent flyers.
- Return to fixed (or max) award charts. Delta was the first of the big airlines to (without any notice at all) dump on us the shameful revenue-based awards we now have. They have gotten so bad that one single award can cost you over 1 MILLION SkyMiles. This destroys the value of the travel currency and saving them for a trip. If Delta can not return to award charts then at least limit the MAX cost for any award trip (at coach, premium select and business).
The above are my top choices that Delta could do, with minimal real cost, to once again re-earn our loyalty and choice to fly with them again.
Do I think Delta will make any of these “Keep Climbing” customer-friendly choices or simply “Keep Descending” as they have done for years now? It all depends on how bad things get and I think they are going to much worse before they get better and if our travel patterns will be permanently changed due to this virus. – René
PS – Disclaimer. I do not own Delta DAL stock and never ever buy or sell any airline stock. I am not that brave.
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