It appears that big changes are coming to the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program. Now is the chance to make Delta SkyMiles great again.
How Delta Can Make SkyMiles Great Again…And Why It Probably Will Not
One Mile At A Time notes a thread on reddit that purports to carry an internal memo from Delta hinting at changes to the SkyMiles program coming on September 14, 2023. Agents are being trained for these unspecified changes, suggesting that this announcement will be more than minor tweaks:
On Sept. 14, Delta will announce changes to its SkyMiles Program. Since we know any change to our SkyMiles Program can generate questions or concerns from customers, we want to ensure our frontline team members are fully prepared to respond.
My hunch is that we will see one or more of the following changes:
- Further restrictions to SkyClub access for American Express Platinum and Delta Reserve card
- Unlimited access for same-day travel will likely be a thing of the past without meeting a high threshold of minimum spend
- Closing the loophole for partner mileage earnings
- Currently, it is much easier to earn SkyMiles Medallion status by flying a SkyTeam partner and crediting to Delta, where MQD spending is calculated based on distance and class of service rather than dollars spent on the ticket
- Higher minimum ticket spending waivers for Delta credit card holders
- More incentives tied to co-branded American Express – Delta SkyMiles credit cards to increase spending
That last point could be the biggest change and why agent training is needed. It would not surprise me if Delta introduced the equivalent to Loyalty Points on American Airlines, in which status can be gained more easily through credit card spending. This would serve the dual purpose of stimulating credit card spending on Delta credit cards and providing a way for passengers to avoid the most punitive elements of the new lounge access restrictions through extra credit card spending.
Delta Could Be Great Again…
But here’s where Delta has a chance to actually make the program competitive once again.
All the changes above seem like a logical evolution of the SkyMiles program, especially in light of the horrific lounge crowding at hub airports.
In the background is the redemption side, which Delta has devalued unlike any other major loyalty program and is the number one reason I do not even credit Delta flights to Delta (I credit to Air France-KLM Flying Blue instead).
What if Delta actually offered reasonable one-way tickets again?
What if Delta did not charge 8x as much for a one-way award ticket to Europe as Virgin Atlantic does (50K versus 400K)?
Delta seems to think the current approach is working (and frankly, maybe it is for them and the suckers who collect SkyMiles), but imagine if there actually was some saver space to Europe at around 100K in business or 30K in economy class? Imagine if Delta added the ability to include stopovers on one-way award travel?
But with recent changes to the upgrade award program, I strongly suspect I am just dreaming.
Delta Air Lines is rumored to announce major SkyMiles program changes next Thursday, on September 14, 2023. While we do not know exactly what those changes will be, we have a good idea. This marks a perfect opportunity for Delta to make the redemption side more attractive, but I suppose that is just asking too much from the carrier that has shown incredible hostility toward its most loyal passengers through one devaluation after another over the last few years.
image: Delta Air Lines