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Delta Air Lines

Delta’s New CEO: Giving Away Upgrades for Loyalty No Longer Makes Sense

Delta’s New CEO: Giving Away Upgrades for Loyalty No Longer Makes Sense
Joe Cortez

New CEO defends segmentation and lack of upgrades at industry forum.

Delta Air Lines’ new chief executive believes that cabin segmentation is good for the airline industry, all while defending the lack of upgrades for their most loyal flyers. Speaking at the Skift Global Forum, Yahoo! Finance reports Ed Bastian told the audience their multi-class plan creates actual value for flyers in each cabin.

“Ten years ago you’d have a business traveler paying $800 and sitting in a middle seat next to someone who bought their ticket six months earlier sitting in the aisle seat for $69,” Bastian told the audience, According to Yahoo. “You have to find a way to create differentiation in consumer minds, and you have to give them choice.”

In 2014, the Atlanta-based carrier refreshed their in-flight product by adding five different classes, ranging from the international and long-haul premium product Delta One all the way down to the no-frills basic economy. Each class comes with different amenities and offerings, with a wide range in pricing. According to Bastian, this method allows flyers to justify what they pay for their ticket, as he claims the “one size fits all” approach no longer works aboard aircraft.

The era of free upgrades could also be coming to an end as well. Bastian went on to explain that because premium seats represents the best of the carrier, offering them to elite flyers at no cost to them hurts the carrier.

“Any business where you give the majority of your best product away for free doesn’t work,” Bastian said, as quoted by Yahoo. “This is the best real estate on the planet, and while we appreciate the loyalty of flyers, we couldn’t continue to give it away.”

Despite the focus on purchasing tickets, Bastian said the new revenue was being injected directly into the carrier, citing a $3.4 billion terminal improvement project at New York’s LaGuardia International Airport (LGA). The comments mark the second time Delta has put loyalty aside in search of profit: In 2016, the carrier told Bloomberg that changes to the Delta SkyMiles program allowed flyers to “control their experience” instead of using miles for free flights.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (63)


  1. fotographer

    October 4, 2017 at 2:41 am

    Have known this for a while, my wife a PLT with Delta has not had a upgrade in 3 years, she was in line for one 2 weeks ago but those went to DL empolyees.
    It may not been wirtten, but DL has always given their employees the upgrades over the passengers, after all there is a big billborad in here ATL
    “Delta, the most rewarded employees….” of course they are, they are the ones sitting upfront

  2. Athena53

    October 4, 2017 at 4:26 am

    I love the airlines’ attitude on their own loyalty programs. They tout the “valuable (program name) miles” you can earn on each flight, they charge you to buy more miles or to transfer them, but when you want to use them to purchase an upgrade, they’re “giving away” a Business Class seat.

    So, which is it- are their miles valuable or worthless?

  3. diver858

    October 4, 2017 at 7:16 am

    Without even a glimmer of hope for the occasional upgrade to a business / first, virtual certainty of premium economy for domestic travel, road warriors will have difficulties justifying their loyalty to one carrier. Assuming at least one of the big three, and likely Alaska do not follow Delta’s race to the bottom, expect the holdout(s) to gain business from frequent business travelers.

  4. jamesteroh

    October 4, 2017 at 11:58 am

    I had better luck as a gold on Northwest with upgrades than with Delta as a diamond.

    One of the biggest perks of status/loyalty is free upgrades. If Delta is saying it makes no sense for them to give me upgrades for free, then it no longer makes sense for me to be loyal to Delta. If I’m expected to pay to ride up front then I’m going to book on the carrier with the best price/schedule/hard product for my trips.

  5. sdsearch

    October 4, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Finally something that Delta does that AA won’t be able to copy. For the first two levels of status, AA upgrades are not “free”, but are ‘paid for” using “500-mile upgrades” (often referred to by AA elites as “stickers’ for historical reasons), which can be either purchased or earned by flying enough in a year. AA can’t get rid of upgrades for those people because they’re not free, and because the already-purchased “upgrade instruments” represent at liability if suddenly they because valueless.
    So will Delta still offer upgrades but just not “free” ones, sort of like AA, or will they not offer upgrades at all?

    Or do they simply mean that you’ll only be able to upgrade one class above what you purchased, and since they have 4 classes (the 5th class of basic economy doesn’t count because you can’t upgrade from that at all), that’ll limit HOW FAR a free upgrade can take you? (They seem to e complaining about people upgrading all the way from economy to int’l business class. But if there’s a class in between you can’t jump over, then that complaint could go away without free upgrades COMPLETELY going away (just being limited in reach).

  6. FlyingNone

    October 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    It’s about time someone gets the ball rolling. “Loyalty” should not be the reason people are given F-class seats. If you want first class pay for it, simple as that. Just like the old days long before any mileage program started (thanks to American Airlines). Now it’s a monster that cannot be fed. Delta is doing the right thing. I hope United and American follow.

  7. kthomas

    October 5, 2017 at 3:12 am

    This is an odd perspective. The way I look at it, I pay Delta $15K/year to be a member of a club. WIth that membership, comes certain benefits.
    Lower the membership benefits package, and I’ll reconsider being a member at all.

  8. boerne

    October 5, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Have been doing that for the last 9 months.

  9. gemini2656

    October 5, 2017 at 3:24 am

    I fear Bastian is seriously underestimating the level of competition out there these days and I suspect that, without the hope of such occasional perks, travellers will vote with their feet and transfer their affections to more generous loyalty programs.

  10. Carteeb

    October 5, 2017 at 3:27 am

    Giving it away? Seriously? So when I buy over ten thousand dollars in travel with a carrier, that must not be value to the carrier, then. Or the value of that becomes zero when I want a more comfortable seat? Delta is on a race to the bottom, as another commenter said. Looks like they are leading with this business intelligence.

  11. walomi

    October 5, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Me: Flying Delta Was No Longer Makes Sense Years Ago

  12. Kaibeezy

    October 5, 2017 at 3:31 am

    In the words of our esteemed Secretary of State, that policy is _f-ing moronic_.

    I just challenged in to Delta/AirFrance after enduring the almost punitive British Airways program for a couple of years, OK experience with United for years before that. If I had know Delta was up to this, I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

    I’ll agree with jamesteroh and others above, why f-ing bother, I’ll just shop.

  13. rmcneely

    October 5, 2017 at 3:34 am

    I’ve noticed this coming as a PLT. I’ve been diamond since the diamond level came out. Happened to move to DC from ATL a couple of years ago and for some reason, maintained my loyalty to DL for a year. I’ve come to realize, DL doesn’t value it – but I’ve honestly known that for many years. I now fly home to TPA direct from DCA on AA 1st class for the price of a DL coach ticket. For work, I fly American and Jet blue mostly. My top tier status on any airline probably won’t happen again and I’m OK with it. While I still believe DL has a better flying experience of the big 3, they’ve proven to me over the years they could care less about me.

  14. RideThe22A

    October 5, 2017 at 3:37 am

    The title of this article should be shortened to “Loyalty No Longer Makes Sense.”

  15. cynosura

    October 5, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Well Mr. Bastian, what clearly makes no sense anymore is jumping through hoops to maintain or obtain higher Medallion status. No reward, no jumping. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Delta Airlines have been diluting their rewards program for years through mission creep. Mr. Bastian, or should I call him the Wall Street Whisperer, stop touting your loyalty program as the greatest thing since sliced bread. You have clearly lost site of what the word “rewards” means. You appear to want the loyalty, but you don’t want to “reward”. So keep working with your lean six sigma folks and your bean counters to please Wall Street. Your customers do have choices.

    On a side note, the woman pushing the Delta American Express cards at the airport last weekend told me that she was getting an ear full over the new $250,000K spend for the Delta Diamond Medallion spend waiver.

  16. see2xu

    October 5, 2017 at 3:44 am

    They’ve been moving this way for some time. The fare differential to First from Comfort is no longer a yawning chasm. Ten years ago, in the two-cabin, fare-proliferation era, And it was infuriating to see deadheading flight crew occupying seats that they offered to paying pax for $1,000, or more. Or, as the writer cites, be wedged into a middle seat next to the lavatory, next to Granny flying her $119 restricted fare to see her grandkids.

    I think this is a more sensible approach, but am in a position to pay for F-class, and do.

  17. riku2

    October 5, 2017 at 3:44 am

    lots of free upgrades for frequent flyers is a very american idea. Airlines in Europe take the attitude that if people get business class seats for free then they won’t pay for them. Seems a very sensible approach. It’s also really annoying if you pay for business class and find the cabin packed out by people who paid 1/4 the fare but were upgraded because of their status

  18. Dar1

    October 5, 2017 at 3:58 am

    I spent many years as a Delta flyer. About 15 years ago it was apparent they were drinking their own kool-aide. Like many companies, they really don’t understand their customers and believe that there is an endless supply. I fly because my career demands it. Ticket price, within reason, is not a constraint since it’s covered by the business. What attracts me is that I personally benefit by my loyalty to a carrier. My AA miles are up over 300K this year after completely draining them last year. Travel perks pay for my holidays.

    Loyalty is purchased by companies. If Delta chooses not to reward it, then it becomes just another low cost carrier.

    They won’t have to worry about multi-cabin strategies because they will relegate themselves to commodity status.
    I don’t fly a lot, 100K to 200K per year, but I’m loyal to the airline(s) that are loyal to me.

    BTW, I stopped flying Delta about 15 years ago.

  19. respawn

    October 5, 2017 at 4:05 am

    At this point it’s just a constant race to the bottom for the legacy carriers. Delta’s fair and sensible upgrade system was the reason they had my loyalty. I would expect the other carriers to follow suit soon. This is what happens in an industry where mergers have resulted, not in the claimed benefit to the consumers, but instead lower competition between the airlines and therefore fewer benefits to the consumers.

  20. diamantaire

    October 5, 2017 at 4:13 am

    Then what is loyalty worth for an airline ?

  21. lucke27

    October 5, 2017 at 4:15 am

    I’m still regularly getting upgraded to First on Delta; so, I guess the question is, “what do his words really mean to Delta FF’s?” Is he saying they’re about to start blocking upgrades?

  22. USAoz

    October 5, 2017 at 4:31 am

    &other airlines will follow Deltas lead. Frequent flyer programmes have had their day.

  23. PA Pilot

    October 5, 2017 at 4:42 am

    It is only a matter of time for UA and AA to follow. They did that after DL added a spend threshold so I can only assume they will do this too.

    There is a disconnect in his rationale since in today’s environment most businesses have rules about lowest fares for air travel. Even for international it’s business instead of first even if product is the same and still the lowest fare.

    Businesses aren’t giving away their cash for free either.

  24. atomicfront

    October 5, 2017 at 5:01 am

    What he is really saying is with all the mergers there really is no competition anymore for most of their routes. Each airline basically controls their hub airports and if you want to fly direct you are going to fly with them. So why reward anyone when they will fly with you anyway.

  25. RSSrsvp

    October 5, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Loyalty, going, going, gone!

    No upgrades means I will simply fly on the lowest fare and say goodbye to DL.

  26. chadbag

    October 5, 2017 at 5:29 am

    When they made the changes to the Skymiles program to go revenue based, I stopped being loyal to Delta, dropped my AMEX Delta Platinum personal and business cards, and now go with my Chase Ultimate Rewards and the Reserve card. This just solidifies that. Now, I am not a huge traveler so my actions don’t matter. But it may eventually be that lots of people who travel more often make the same decisions.

  27. fjohnsonphoto

    October 5, 2017 at 5:40 am

    This industry has come to the point where loyalty to one airline to accumulate miles for upgrades and free travel is no longer rewarded. Very disappointing.

  28. jpr1953

    October 5, 2017 at 5:48 am

    Well I have been 1k United for years – these days hardly get upgrades…far easier to upgrade even on international with miles than global upgrades…no more companion upgrades (Continental). So just get used to sitting in econ. Problem is I am stuck on United as I won’t sit in basic economy not human longer than 1 hr flt….and now United exceeded its usual ability to fight for the bottom rung, by creating basic economy tkts – if you are boarding gp 5 – now you can’t bring more than 1 item onto the plane…..!! Times have really changed in Airline business…maybe the problem is too many businesses are prepared to pay such high prices for Bus tkts? My business (academic) just does not allow it…

  29. jallred6

    October 5, 2017 at 6:01 am

    “… the best real estate on the planet …” — really, Mr. Bastian? I suggest you ride in 2A on a 737-900ER, JFK-SEA — six hours in a cramped and uncomfortable seat. Just because it’s slightly less cramped and comfortable than a seat in steerage does not make it “the best”.

  30. larrymeyervi

    October 5, 2017 at 6:01 am

    I Don’t remember a time when American Airlines did not charge a modest fee for upgrades……but that is a system that makes sense. Free upgrades probably does not make sense. Sometimes however , they sell the first class/business class at an amount that is less than coach plus your $120 in upgrade fees, which doesn’t make sense.

    What makes sense is to have some type of reward for your frequently flyer patrons, my wife and I actively worked to get our miles up to a premium level so we could qualify for the upgrades….that, really, for us, was the only reason to aggregate most of our miles on American. Over the years it has become much more difficult to get an upgrade, but it is still a perk we look fgorward to and keeps us loyal to American.

  31. oh912flyer

    October 5, 2017 at 6:06 am

    This is all to do with monetization of first class. I haven’t had an upgrade in years… because I pay the extra $200 to just sit in the front anyway. That’s why there’s few upgrades available; the cost for first class 7 days out is barely any more than what’s left at that point in coach… in fact, sometimes it’s cheaper…

  32. alexr_ft

    October 5, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Delta’s attitude has had impact on Virgin Atlantic as well, where the YQ surcharges for miles upgrades are now often a significant fraction of the cash price of a seat anyway.

  33. YDIXON7132296

    October 5, 2017 at 6:20 am

    What, then, becomes the purpose of having a loyalty program? Without any “perks” for being loyal, what is the benefit of being loyal to an airline? I fly Delta exclusively. I am not a business traveler. I actually pay to play on Delta, making me a TRUE loyal passenger because many business travelers would fly other airlines if they had to pay for their own tickets. Every year, its somewhat of a sport to fly as much as I can to see if I can top the loyalty tier I had the previous year. As a result, I have flown nothing but Delta branded aircrafts over the last 10 years. Admittedly, I prefer Delta because of their safety record but I have had status for the past 6 years. I do not know what its like to fly as a regular patron. Next year it was my goal to try and hit Diamond but Delta recently changed the requirements to the point that I, as a non-business traveler, will never make it now as a result of the recent changes. I am brand loyal when I am receiving a benefit I perceive to be lucrative for me. If Delta is going to change their perk systems, I just may be looking for a new airline to be loyal to.

  34. jeffhacker

    October 5, 2017 at 6:26 am

    I agree with all of the above. Additionally, though, the domestic First Class experience itself has been downgraded – 38 or 39 inch pitch to 37 or 36 inch, crappier (and fewer) meals), etc. I don’t mind paying to upgrade (I actually did it yesterday on a 2 1/2 hour flight), but I would appreciate seeing some value in return.

  35. Jstarion

    October 5, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Ha I bet SWA is salivating at that comment. One of the few reasons to stick with a legacy carrier was for the occasional upgrade.

  36. dbphillips

    October 5, 2017 at 6:52 am

    3, 2, 1… “What I meant was…”

  37. marcdanziger

    October 5, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Yeah, I’m a multiyear Delta PLT and the day they stop doing this is the day I’ll switch away to someone who does.

  38. jfanelli

    October 5, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I agree with him, there does need to be differentiation, value and choice to the consumer.

    Which is why we need to IMMEDIATELY allow every foreign carrier that wants to the ability to fly routes to, from, and within the United States to compete directly with Delta.

    As a multi-year Million Miller Diamond, my priority for a superior experience in flight was the reward for my loyalty. Without that priority for a superior experience, I demand the most choices possible to EARN my business for each and every flight.

  39. ckfred

    October 5, 2017 at 7:22 am

    What Delta isn’t understanding is that many, many businesses have becoming stingy with air travel. Years ago, my wife worked for a Fortune 500 company. For travel between the Chicago office and the West Coast, first class travel was permitted, because it was over the four-hour minimum. Then, the minimum went to five hours. Then, it was only permitted for coast-to-coast travel domestically, before all domestic travel was eventually Y only.

    The same thing happened with international, such that travel from the eastern U.S. to western Europe was Y only.

    I really wonder what companies permit their employees to book F tickets.

    What seems lost on airline executives is that for every passenger that is upgrade to First, another paying coach passenger gets on the plane. So, if half of a domestic F cabin of 16 seats are given away as upgrades, that mean 8 additional paying passengers fly in coach. The only people who aren’t paying anything to fly are those who redeemed miles for free seats.

    Las Vegas has always worked on the model that those who gamble often and for large amounts of money get perks, such as free rooms, free meals, free show tickets, and a free limo to and from McCarren.

    On the other hand, Bastian has a valid point about coach travel in the 1980s and 1990s. The model was that business travelers needed to travel and would pay exorbitant fares for the same coach seat and service that a leisure travel got for a heavily-discounted fare, booking several months in advance. That didn’t make sense to business travelers then. I know so many business travelers who thought full-fare Y deserved a cabin with more legroom and a hot meal instead of the Delta Deli or American’s Bistro Bag.

  40. rifle21

    October 5, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Amen @jamesteroh. If I have no incentive to be loyal, then I will simply shop for the best fit for my trip, airline agnostic. Fine by me. This will likely result in more direct flight options and shorter travel times anyway. Delta’s CEO just showed everyone how to giveaway business for free.

  41. mi Dushi

    October 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Isn’t this the Spirit model? Assume that every flight is a pure commodity choice dictated solely on the basis of what is the cheapest way to get from Point A to Point B and then layer up from there?

    Mr. Bastian seems to be assuming that Delta actually has a “Best” product, as opposed to a “Least Bad” one. He also seems to be assuming that he can actually sell those seats at those prices. For most people, the extra couple inches of width and leg room and a somewhat less dreadful meal cannot justify the price premium. If those seats don’t go to upgrades, they’ll fly empty.

    As a business traveler, I don’t have many choices about where I go or when I go. The one thing I can choose is who takes me there, and I do that on the basis of my travel experience. Take away even the hope of an occasional upgrade and I have absolutely no reason to do business with them over any one else.

  42. Morgacj2004

    October 5, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Another Great reason NOT to fly Delta. I will stick with Alaska whose CEO understands what customer loyalty means to his bottom line.

  43. HenryCL

    October 5, 2017 at 10:10 am

    LaGuardia Airport is a national airport… (the only international service is from Canadian cities with US Border pre-clearance…)

  44. BC Shelby

    October 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

    …I miss Northwest. I usually used my Northwest Wrokdperks miles to upgrade rather than get the free ticket., particularly on long cross country flights. First class on a DC-10 or 747 was a different world.(and yes I’ve flown First on both).

    Now on Delta if you have 50,000 miles in your account it doesn’t matter, you still are stuck in that accursed middle seat back in Steerage Class paying for every service that used to be complementary. Bastian is the this century’s version of J. Bruce Ismay, looking to go back to the strict “caste” system that was prevalent on ocean liners of a century ago.

    This is just one more reason why my loyalty has switched to Amtrak

  45. m44

    October 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

    The message from my boss: “Good luck Mr Bastion – you will not see on Delta not even one of my 3,500 traveling employees.”

  46. bettymckissock

    October 5, 2017 at 10:42 am

    If taking care of customers who show loyalty is no longer an option then I plan on flying the airline that gives me the best price. In my experience Delta will lose every time because I can always find cheaper rates on other airlines.

  47. DeltaFirst

    October 5, 2017 at 10:56 am

    DeltaFirst no more. See ya!

  48. rovinmoses

    October 5, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Delta strategy: 20 years ago the following was sent out: “In order to serve our customers better, we are closing our lounge in Anchorage.” Every time they reduce loyalty it is always “to serve their customers better” or in this case allowing flyers to “control their experience.”

  49. c502cid

    October 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Even if half the people jump who say they are jumping because of a chance at an upgrade,, well it’s not going to be much better then a chance at the other airlines because we sure aren’t getting them either, even before you get added to the next airlines program.

  50. bigbuy

    October 5, 2017 at 11:49 am

    The BEST airline real estate I EVER bought was Singapore Airlines Suites, NOT Delta as Mr B states. That was a laughable comment.

  51. SpartyAir

    October 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    UA doesn’t give away free upgrades until a few days prior to flight, based on status level determining how many days. The same goes for mileage upgrades for all intents and purposes (they are very rare at time of purchase). They always hold back several seats until boarding. All my transcon flights but 1 this year were 2-2 seating in F. So I don’t buy the complaint of full fare F ticket buyers ending up in middle seats as being a huge problem and a reason to take away free loyalty upgrades. The loyalty customers paid for their upgrades by being loyal to the airline. All F cabin flights I had this year (most of my trips) were paid tickets (not free upgrades) and I was always at a window seat, my preferred location. Even though I paid for F, as a 1K, I still value the benefit knowing that I am eligible for a free upgrade. The worst thing about Delta is that they are upgrading employees over customers. If it wasn’t for the customers, there would be no need for employees.

    Most of the other benefits can be had by getting one of their branded credit cards. Why should I be loyal to a single airline otherwise? I always fly UA if I can. When I fly I just go to the UA website and never check any others. 95% of my flying is personal travel for leisure — not business. So most of my flying is on my own dime, not some company’s. Many of us have lifetime status and if the legacy airlines take away this benefit, it is a huge slap in the face. They have already slapped us enough.

    Quote ckfred: “The only people who aren’t paying anything to fly are those who redeemed miles for free seats”.

    Not true. Actually those miles paid for an upgrade. The price of the ticket on which the miles were earned figures the cost of reward miles into the price. Maybe not exactly that ticket, but the airlines’ overall income takes into consideration the cost of the reward miles. The value of the reward miles is a liability on their books.

  52. CraigTPE

    October 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Have been entry to mid-level of DL, UA and AA. Never got a single “free” upgrade, the kind they say are available based on availability at the airport. There would usually be 30-50 names on the list for a cabin with a half dozen seats available. Hopeless.

    Mileage redemption has become nearly impossible, at least at the “saver” award levels, basically doubling the amount of miles needed compared to the past.

    Now I shop. I usually fly CZ business class trans-pacific at half the price of any other airline, but still with lie-flat, full aisle access seats, priority everything, lounge. Using Saks blankets for a few hours is not worth the additional $2,000.

    I credit the miles to VN because I fly REP-TPE a lot, their entry level SkyTeam elite status only requires 15K miles.

    But bottom line, I shop. Go for the best business class value I can find. Mileage programs are tertiary consideration.

  53. Rancher

    October 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    As a 20 year Northwest/Delta platinum/diamond million miler I quit participating in Delta’s race to the bottom several years ago. As a non-US resident, I maintain my current Delta status by flying Air France/KLM. Their business class products tend to be about half the price of Delta’s. When in the US I try to fly Sun Country out of MSP whenever possible. Their first class product is superior to Delta’s, food comparable, and flight personnel genuinely sincere. The speak Minnesotan. There is one elite class, reached after spending $5K. I have been upgraded to first on 87 of my last 91 flights. First class can also usually be purchased by anyone for $100-200. Sun Country’s coach fares are usually about half of Delta’s. I would have never found Sun Country if Delta’s race to the bottom had not quickened so dramatically. Thank you Delta!!!

  54. kkua

    October 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I have to admit the customer facing staff at DL are absolutely better than all other carriers in N.America… that said, the FF program is spiraling down to bare bones. Elite benefits available to today’s highest tiers used to be included in the lowest tiers pre-merger and pre-Y2K days. Let’s face it, the golden days (and soon silver days) of glamourous flying are over.

  55. Condosteve

    October 6, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Delta may have fatally screwed the pooch with this one. I think both Andersen and Bastian are worthy of being tossed out of a plane at 38,000 feet WITHOUT their Diamond and Platinum gilded Golden parachutes!! Say goodbye to Delta!!

  56. UASPG

    October 6, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Will that statement be as famous “Certain elites were over entitled”? And how did that last statement do for United Airlines CFO John Rainey?

  57. Prof_Dr_G

    October 6, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Mr. Cortez is right to forget about loyalty. His customers forgot about it several years ago.

    He should focus all of his breathing moments on improving his product offering. He sells a miserable, degrading, and potentially hostile travel experience, and that is independent of price and class of service.

  58. Prof_Dr_G

    October 6, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Dear Mr. Cortez, I apologize for insulting you in that last post. To correct that careless mistake, the previous post should have addressed Mr. Bastian.

  59. FlyerJLL

    October 6, 2017 at 10:27 am

    What free upgrade is he giving?? I have spent $30k for the privilege of a “free” upgrade. Ed do you know what Delta does and what a Frequent Flyer program is?? It appears not :(

  60. kpspero

    October 6, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Delta is not the only game in town. One can defy the hometown airline (DL) through loyaty to another (AA) and reap the bennies of FC upgrades if willing to bend a little. In this day and age of commercial travel , if you don’t bend a little and still feel entitled,enjoy the peanuts.

  61. FullFare

    October 8, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I don’t understand Delta’s game. They want us to pay $15000 in spend on flights or $250K on a credit card to make Diamond—-and then say the perk of Diamond (upgrades when available) is going to be trashed—is just plain nuts. Who would buy into this game? I went from UA over to DL 3 yrs ago because DL did, over time, produce more reliability. DL didn’t give a damn that its FF program was the worst in the world. We’ll see now how much FF programs matter in the world. UA’s has traditionally been the best. I’m switching to them. Am already lifetime Premier Plat with 2.3 mm lifetime miles. If I had known DK was going to do this 3 yrs ago (when I switched), I wouldn’t have given 700K medallion miles to DL. I figure I can get to 3mm on UA in another 3 yrs if I stick with it. I’m a patient investor, and can stay with this for the long pull.

  62. SMHarman

    October 21, 2017 at 5:39 am

    So the American upgrade monster is being tamed to something more akin to the European model.

    This is also happening when the discounts for the domestic first / biz cabin are increasing.

    You want to sit there, pay to sit there. We’ll put you there if we have oversold coach but don’t expect it, be delighted it happened.

  63. Rancher

    October 30, 2017 at 8:37 am

    A Delta apologist could not have said it better than the person making the last response.

    A few weeks ago Delta “upgraded” me to a middle seat near the front of coach. When I said that was no upgrade, that I wanted my old exit row seat back, they said the deed was done… get over it.

    Several times in the last year I have called Delta regarding their computing of miles, awarding of perks, and other assorted non sequiters in their frequent flier program. Lower level workers always agree with me, but have no power to act. When a supervisor comes on the line, she invariably refers me to a clause that says Delta can do whatever they want to do, even if it runs counter to their stated rules.

    While I realize that Delta needs to pinch its customers, especially its best customers to give the CEO a few million dollars more every year, the company’s arrogance can be truly astounding.

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