Delta Air Lines has, once again, extended status for its Medallion Members leaving American Airlines in a precarious position for its Advantage loyalty status holders.
Delta Air Lines Extends Status Again
In welcome news from the most human company in the airline industry, Delta Air Lines is extending the expiry date for elite members’ status. This adds to a very big week for the Atlanta-based carrier of customer-friendly initiatives. Current Medallion status will now expire on January 31, 2023.
Delta CEO, Ed Bastian, gave a mea culpa on the airline’s significant call hold times this week, vowing to do better. Delta also announced it will allow basic economy tickets to be changed through the end of the year, despite the original restrictions on ticket changes.
Delta appears to be confident that the (unfortunately-named) Delta variant (no relation) of COVID-19 will cause disruption to flight schedules and notifications of changes would come eventually anyway.
Regardless, it was hero week for Delta, and others in the industry (Marriott) could follow its lead.
American Airlines Fall Offer
American Airlines made an offer to all elites this year in a bid to maintain their business:
Ways to retain your elite status through January 2023
Elite members who have not yet re-qualified for their current elite status or higher will have 2 opportunities to retain their existing status. They can spend on an eligible AAdvantage® credit card or fly on eligible tickets.
Spend $15,000 on an AAdvantage® credit card
You’ll retain your AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status through January 31, 2023, if you spend at least $15,000 on eligible purchases with an eligible AAdvantage® credit card between July 15 – November 15, 2021.
Fly on American or one of our partner airlines
You’ll retain your AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status through January 31, 2023, if you earn at least $2,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) on eligible airline tickets flown between September 1 – December 31, 2021. – AA.com
This puts American Airlines in a difficult position. Some customers have already purchased tickets as part of the offer. Those AAdvantage members will be upset if status is extended for all customers despite spending the required amounts.
If they extend status, new targeted transactions will be lost, foiling its plan to add some revenue.
If the airline does not extend status for all, some may move to another carrier. Without a doubt, opportunistic Delta would seize the opportunity to award bonus miles and allow new elites to earn miles in an accelerated fashion both the rest of this year and next year to steal business from American.
Doing nothing will put a lot of AAdvantage elite status holders into questionable territory, but granting un-earned status extensions will anger the most loyal. Delta was smart to not follow American Airlines into the same position and now can force American to disenfranchise a certain amount of valuable customers no matter which way the airline chooses to go. United and Southwest haven’t indicated their direction, but if they follow Delta’s lead, they only further entomb American despite the carrier initially leading the way. American really can’t directly follow Delta, and also can’t afford not to do so.
What do you think? Will American extend? What about those who paid for an extension through the offers?