Threaten a Delta employee? Say goodbye to your SkyMiles account and elite status

May 5, 2021

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Delta Air Lines is cracking down on unruly customers.

The Atlanta-based carrier tightened its SkyMiles program terms and conditions on Tuesday to include provisions around when a frequent flyer account might be terminated. The new provision — “documented abusive behavior” — is now grounds for expulsion from the program.

Travelers who threaten, intimidate or otherwise cross a line with Delta employees could have their accounts closed. That includes the possible forfeiture of all accumulated mileage credit, any unused and upcoming award or upgrade certificates and all other associated membership benefits, including Medallion elite status. You could also be banned from flying with Delta in the future.

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In a statement, a carrier spokesperson said:

“Respect and civility to others on our planes, at our airports, in our workplaces and in our society have always been a requirement for our people and our customers. Nothing is more important than their safety.”

In the update to its terms and conditions, Delta says examples of abusive behavior include personal threats, profanity, obscene language, insults or slurs directed to a Delta employee or ambassador. It also covers any intentional destruction to Delta property.

The new provision applies across the travel journey, from interactions with Delta’s reservations or customer care phone center to its gate agents, flight attendants, ground handlers and arrival teams.

That means that whether you’re upset about a refund or have an issue with a flight, it will be important to remain civil when speaking with Delta to avoid violating the new “abusive behavior” clause.

Delta’s “Big 3” competitors, American and United, don’t have the same specific call-out about terminating an account due to abusive behavior, though the rules are pretty open-ended. American says that “abuse or violation of applicable rules” could lead to AAdvantage account termination, while United’s rules specify that “any conduct detrimental to the interests of United” is grounds for expulsion.

Adding a call out for abusive behavior comes as the industry has seen an uptick in misbehaving flyers, per an NBC report. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received roughly 1,300 reports of unruly passengers from airlines since February, an agency spokesperson recently told The Hill.

The FAA has been cracking down against disruptive behavior aboard planes, fining passengers who refuse to wear masks or get belligerently drunk. The agency extended a zero-tolerance policy it implemented in January following numerous incidents on flights surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

Other actions that could lead to the closure of your SkyMiles account include violating a term or condition of the contract of carriage, your ticket’s fare rules or any other regulation that applies to travel with Delta.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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