Is Delta Not Honoring Platinum Medallion Offer For New York Flyers?

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Back in January, Delta announced a drool-worthy offer for New York-based flyers with a fast-track to Platinum Medallion status. Whereas Platinum Medallion status normally requires you fly 75,000 miles or 90 segments (and starting in 2014 that you spend $7,500 on airfare or $25,000 on a co-branded Delta Amex), those flyers targeted for the offer were entitled to the following.

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Targeted folks who register before March 31, 2014, can receive:
• 60 days of complimentary Platinum Medallion status.
• 60 days of complimentary Delta Sky Club membership.

Then to keep that status, they have to book one BusinessElite ticket and fly within 60 days of registration to earn:
• Platinum Medallion status through February 2015.
• Delta Sky Club membership for an additional 10 months.
• 100,000 bonus miles

The offer was targeted to NY flyers.
The offer was targeted to NY flyers.

The offer seemed almost too good to be true – Platinum status, SkyClub membership and 100,000 bonus miles all for taking one BusinessElite flight – and it apparently was! Readers have been writing to me that, though they were targeted and met the conditions of the challenge, they have not been getting the promised status or bonus miles.

I will just remind those of you targeted that hte T&C are very specific and state: “This offer is nontransferable. To be eligible for the status upgrade, a member must (i) register online by March 31, 2014, and (ii) not have received a status match or complimentary Medallion status in the past.” So that’s the first thing to look out for.

Second, you can’t buy just any old business class ticket to qualify for those extra bonuses. You need to purchase and fly one qualifying BusinessElite fare (fare classes J/C/D/I/Z) on a flight offering BusinessElite service within 60 days after enrolling. Qualifying flight must be marketed and operated by Delta. Codeshare flights operated by carriers other than Delta are excluded from this offer.”

So you have to be careful about the tickets you buy and make sure they qualify. However, I think TPG readers are a very savvy bunch (and teach me a lot!), so I tend to believe them when they say that they met the conditions but were not rewarded accordingly.

That’s because Delta appears to have changed the terms of the promotion after folks registered! The airline added the following terms:

“BusinessElite service is limited to the following long-haul international and transcontinental flights: (a) transatlantic, (b) transpacific, (c) transcontinental flights between John F. Kennedy/JFK and Los Angeles/LAX, San Francisco/SFO, and Seattle/SEA, and (d) between the U.S. and Brasilia/BSB, Buenos Aires/EZE, Lima/LIM, Rio de Janeiro/GIG, Santiago, Chile/SCL and Sao Paulo/GRU.”

So it appears that some targeted folks registered, bought and flew flights that qualified under the original terms by purchasing qualifying fare classes, but then were told they did not qualify. I suspect they did so on tag flights like those from New York to Atlanta or vice versa that the airline then uses the same aircraft to fly on a long-haul route from the gateway. Still, those counted under the original terms.

The flyers who are really stuck are those who either have traveled already and were told they didn’t qualify, or those people who bought non-refundable tickets and called the airline to see if, because the terms had changed, they could get their money back on flights not yet taken and were told no.

My Thoughts

Although I took the original offer to mean that Delta was targeting premium flyers on its international and transcon routes where BusinessElite is offered, the terms did not explicitly state the routes, only that the flight had to offer BusinessElite service and the fare had to be in one of those fare classes. Then Delta clearly changed the terms. It seems like a classic case of ex post facto, so that targeted flyers who bought tickets in good faith are now finding the offer rescinded after the fact, which is totally unfair. If people bought those tickets while the original terms were still in effect – and especially if they actually flew during that time – then they deserve the benefits of this promotion as it was originally laid out.

I can’t say I’m totally surprised given all of Delta’s recent customer-unfriendly announcements including a new mileage-earning structure, and hacking away at elite benefits, but this is so blatantly unfair, and readers report being brushed off by Delta customer service so thoroughly that it seems above and beyond even a typical level of airline indifference.

If any of you have experienced this with this promo, I’d encourage you to call, email, tweet and write to Delta until you get a response, and please comment below with your circumstances so that others can draw from your experiences and vice versa. And hopefully if we get a lot of responses with some good, concrete facts, Delta will listen and react appropriately.

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