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I was a loyal Delta flyer (and enthusiast) for years. I had top-tier Diamond Medallion status (and used to love it), I was able to use SkyMiles to fly all over the world, I frequented SkyClubs throughout the US and abroad, I appreciated the (relatively) good service and domestic fleet-wide Wifi, and from time to time, I even found myself defending the program from naysayers. But enough is enough.
With imminent massive award chart devaluations, the implementation of Medallion Qualifying Dollars as another elite status requirement, the restriction of lounge access and a consistent hacking away at elite benefits, when the airline announced that it was restructuring SkyMiles to become a revenue-based mileage program, something in me snapped – and I am now breaking up with Delta!
In my opinion, these changes are all horrible, but let’s be honest – what’s a break-up if you can’t find a little humor? These images pretty much sum up how I feel about how the airline done me (and everyone) wrong.
1. The constant award chart devaluations: As if it wasn’t hard enough to use SkyMiles before, now even those low-level international business class saver awards are going to take a lot more miles for travel booked for on or after June 1, 2014. Fine – you don’t want me to use my miles, just say so, but don’t lead me on!
2. Cutting back on elite convenience benefits: Elite flyers are your most loyal customers – the ones that fly the most and (even those buying discounted economy tickets for the most part) spend the most on your airline, and the way you treat them is to hack away at benefits like being able to switch flights or find elite upgrade space on ExpertFlyer? A healthy relationship is about going out of your way for the other person, not making them work harder.
3. Restricting lounge access: Not only did Delta raise membership prices for its SkyClub from $450 to $695 for a comparable level of membership, but it’s also going to restrict access to a single cardholder of the American Express Platinum cards, as well as its own co-branded Delta Reserve card – one of whose major selling points is lounge access! Are you trying to keep your own club members out?!
4. Earning based on spending instead of miles flown: Delta just announced a change to the SkyMiles program that means that starting in 2015, you will earn a certain number of miles per dollar spent, instead of earning miles based on how far you fly. That means we’re all going to have to spend a lot more money to earn the same amount of miles as before.
5. Yet another hoop to jump through…Medallion Qualifying Dollars: As if flying qualifying miles and segments – and purchasing the airline tickets necessary to do so – wasn’t hard enough, starting this year, Delta is going to require elites to spend between $2,500-$12,500 per calendar year on airfares (depending on their elite level), or $25,000 on a co-branded Delta Amex in addition to flying the necessary miles/segments. Hit the miles requirement, but don’t make enough spend? Too bad, you’ll only get the elite level of the spend you meet. It’s just another hoop to jump through.
6. Slashing earning on partner airlines: Delta recently slashed the amount of Medallion Qualifying Miles flyers earn on many of its partners including Korean Air, and flights ticketed on partners (rather than through Delta) do not even earn MQD’s, which could severely hamper elite status and mileage-earning in the new 2015 program. Why are you punishing us for flying your partner airlines?
7. No first class awards on partners: Delta also blocks all partner first class awards, so you’ll just have to settle for business class at best. That is, if you can find award space at all.
8. Terrible website: One of the most frustrating parts of being a Delta flyer is trying to search the website for awards. It’s darn near impossible – pricing out partners awards incorrectly (when it displays them at all), getting frazzled by non-nonstop routing, having a confusing class/calendar display and search, and generally being hard to navigate. Talk about sending mixed signals!
9. No more Medallion transcon upgrades: While upgrades used to be complimentary based on Medallion status, back in December, Delta announced that complimentary upgrades for the transcontinental BusinessElite routes (currently assigned at the gate based on availability) will no longer be a general Medallion benefit. Why are you shunting us to the back of the plane?
10. The annual fee on Delta Platinum Amex is going up: It’s not just the Delta Reserve card that’s undergoing a change either. Amex stealthily changed the annual fee on its Delta Platinum card, and it will be shooting up 30% from $150 to a new fee of $195 per year.
I suspect Delta’s recent announcement was the final push many flyers needed to finally decide to drop the SkyMiles program altogether – I know that was it for me. From now on, I’ll just be burning through my remaining SkyMiles, flying on other carriers, and giving Delta a big, loud “buh-bye.”
And no, I don’t want to be friends!