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The Things Delta Air Lines FEARS Most Now (or Should)

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’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. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Before we deep dive into this, a point of reference for this post.

I know many in the travel world are taking the stand of “now is not the time – yada yada” for attacking the airlines when their very survival is on the line. I mean, think of all the fine folks who work for the airlines.

My answer is there is a clear difference between the corporation Delta (and the other airlines) and the people.

If you have EVER read any of my posts here on the blog (and other places), you will see I am one of the biggest cheerleaders for Delta people.

But as for the company – I take them to task over devaluation after devaluation year after year. So keep that in mind.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the things Delta fears most — or should.

  • $DAL share price (or even bankruptcy again). The other day, the wisest man, arguably, on Wall Street DUMPED 13 million shares of Delta Air Lines. YIKES! Since the “suits” at Delta are mostly paid with mega shares of Delta, this does not bode well for their paychecks this year — and beyond.
  • ZOOM! With no one in their right mind getting anywhere near an airplane, video meetings have exploded. The really scary part, like in the iconic movie Up in the Air, companies may see there is much less need to keep reps flying from town to town to get their job done.
  • Unions. Delta pilots have been unionized for years. Let’s not forget, before the virus mess, Delta flight attendants were very close to also joining a union due to any number of issues – not least of which was/is the toxic uniform disaster. Delta, the company, does not want the nightmare of having to negotiate with flight attendants as a group rather than doing as they please with them one-on-one.
  • Our budgets (company and otherwise). Not so long ago (you know, earlier this year), folks would simply spend cash or miles to upgrade to 1st class because the flights were all full and if you wanted first you paid for 1st (since they sold upgrades so darn cheap). After the pain of COVID19 we all may be looking a wee bit closer at the bottom line and not be willing to pay top dollar and especially so for C+ or Comfort Plus (middle seat anyone?)!
  • Anger over “the new norm.” Once this is over, I mean not gone but mostly over, I have a feeling there will be a new norm when it comes to flying – whenever that is. I doubt things will ever be like the “good old days” of flying i.e. like last year! I also have a feeling folks will not be happy over the changes Delta makes whatever they are in regards to service and offerings and more.
  • SkyTeam (and partner) impact. Delta, in it’s most recent cash buying burn, picked up 20% of LATAM airlines. They paid, get this, 1.9 BILLION for a 20% stake. Right now, the value of the entire LATAM company (at current share price) is less than 1.7 billion-ish. The point is, not just Delta is really hurting. How many SkyTeam airlines will fold or be so reduced that the partnership becomes all but pointless (not to mention the ability to spend our “valuable” SkyMiles for awards)?
  • Costs! It is one thing to run a massive network of Sky Clubs when they are all packed and folks are even willing to, GULP, spend $39 for the privilege of a few hours with free cheap drinks and snacks. It is another to run the same network when they are half-empty (or worse). Let alone the fact that Delta also owns an oil refinery that keeps hemorrhaging cash. Boy, did the Delta CFO pick a good time to retire (at the end of February no less).
  • Lastly, the press (and blogs). The COVID19 news is 24/7 and will one day be less so. Then the news, and the blogs, will turn their full attention back to all things travel and see how well (or badly) the recovery is. I have a feeling the coverage will maybe be less than positive for a long time to come.

Well, that is my list of things that I am sure will keep Delta VPs up at night. All are likely to have a huge impact on what Delta looks like a year or two from now. I am really looking forward to Delta returning to the airline they were a decade ago when they cared about loyalty and frequent flyers. Maybe, just maybe, they will again.

Then again, maybe not.

What do you think?

– René

(disclaimer: neither Chris or I own or plan to own any airline stock in the foreseeable future)

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’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. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

16 Comments

  1. Shivya Nath Reply

    I guess it’s going to be a tough year for all airlines, but now is a good thing to reconsider what made them great in the first place.

  2. It really depends whether the same Delta people are still employed by Delta a year from now. Just like you, I fly Delta because of its employees and the service they provide. I live in NYC area so I have my choice of airlines and out of all of them Delta has simply been the best.
    If Delta management changes its culture so much that Delta employees become similar to AA or UA, then I will have to rethink whether I want to keep flying Delta.

  3. BookGirl305 Reply

    My company changed from flights to car or video right before this. I am a free agent now for my personal travel. I live in a delta hub city. If all the economy service is the same across the board, he with the lowest price wins. It’s up to every airline to decide what kind of service they choose to give in each cabin when this is over.

  4. I have an issue with Delta Airlines taking Government assistance, whether it is a loan, grant, or securities guarantees, discuss Bankruptcy and then mention that one of their first “options” is to remove the Sky Miles balances of their customers from their balance sheets(liabilities)….all the while still selling miles through various mechanisms, including AMEX. To add insult to injury, for Delta promise to consider to pay their employees another $1.6 BILLION dollars in bonuses next year because they’ve suffered this year……. Unbelievable!

  5. Jeff Ehrlich Reply

    Thanks for the insight. How long after Amex Reserve fee shows up on statement can you downgrade card to have the fee credited?

    • @Jeff – Wait till fee bills and the BOGO posts to your “My Delta”. You have 30 days after fee bills to get it back.

      Also, #PROTIP, if you have NEVER had the Delta Amex Gold card, get a NEW card then cancel old Reserve for new card bonus.

  6. Interesting perspectives. Question: Would it make sense to dump DELTA cards NOW in the case that if the AirlineS survive we could re-apply after two years? You know make that date come sooner?

    • @Derrick – Never dump before fee bills as they do not (99.99% of the time) pro-rate refund the yearly fee. All Amex new card bonus offers are 1x lifetime (or most say 1x every 7 years).

      • Oh yeah. I knew it was something like that…AND I knew you would respond quick if I framed my ? that way. Love you brother. I’ll hang on to all Delta cards til fee comes up. You keeping non-Delta AMEX? Plat?

        • @Derrick – Yep. I get enough “Offer for You” to pay for that card each year.

    • @paul – Delta has said they are rolling all our MQMs so this year is just a push basically.

      • I understand that they are rolling over the MQMs. I am unsure about plans for the future. In my case, I am Platinum (after 5 years of Diamond) with 126,000 MQMs. My plan this year(prior to coronavirus): spending $120,000 on my reserve card for the 60,000 MQMs to keep platinum status (maybe Diamond). I have several questions. How likely will Delta grant a waiver of the $250,000 Amex spend? Should I keep spending on my Delta Amex?

  7. HuntingtonGuy Reply

    I agree with most everything you wrote. One variable that DL sometimes neglects to properly prioritize, arguably the most important one, is the customer. To be more specific, the PAX who have demonstrated loyalty to the airline and spent reliably year after year.
    Bread and butter customers are certainly very important, the family of folks headed to Disney or some other vacation gem generate serious revenue, but the Medallions, the tried and true, consistent and loyal customer who very frequently join as loyal customers of our branded AmEx products tend to be the most mistreated or at least not sufficiently regarded customers.
    Sky Pese devaluations, upgrade vacuums, higher (abusively higher) CC fee’s on branded Amex products, club fees for guests, reductions in services…bla, bla, bla.
    Delta employees, IMO, mostly rock. They are professional and effective, they are well trained and effective and they tend to treat us well…sometimes in spite of the treatment they receive in return.
    My gripe is with the bean counters who appear to use a corporate Magic 8 Ball when making executive decisions on how to optimize their corporate upside at the expense of the people who keep the airline flying.
    When we come out on the other side of Covid it would be nice if the DL decision makers better recognized the importance of treating their recurring customer base in a way that encourages continued loyalty.

    • @HuntingtonGuy – “My gripe is with the bean counters who appear to use a corporate Magic 8 Ball when making executive decisions on how to optimize their corporate upside at the expense of the people who keep the airline flying.” – Oh my… LOL… Oh my! 🙂

  8. Well said on what we can expect….I plan to resume my Asia travels when I feel safe from all this mess, looks like after Christmas so Im bummed!
    Small point…why do you always harp on the AMX spend requirement for diamond status? I have no trouble reaching the $15k Delta spend using partners, i think last year my real $ was under 7k thanks to JuicyMiles! Ive been diamond for the last four years following the Delta Dollars requirement.

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