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Has Delta Permanently damaged it's own loyalty program?

Has Delta Permanently damaged it's own loyalty program?

Old Nov 3, 2023, 5:51 pm
  #1  
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Has Delta Permanently damaged it's own loyalty program?

We're all aware here of the recent changes Delta has made, to 'improve' the overall experience in SkyClubs, Upgrades etc. On the face of it, it seems logical that DL want to attract high value customers and reward them accordingly.

From 2010 until 2022 I was DM, every year, and I really enjoyed it. I traveled fairly frequently, often internationally and spent around $15k annually, I did this by prioritizing DL over any other airline, often paying more (a little more) than I should have for the flights, and often (practically always) taking a flight with a stop at a hub to change to a plane going to actually where I needed to be. I have been to SLC, SEA, ATL more times than I can count!

The problem is, DL doesn't seem to want lower value passengers like me anymore. When I was DL there forever wasn't really an issue with lounge overcrowding (this seems to have happened recently when Covid rollovers swelled the ranks somewhat). I got reasonable upgrades on domestic flights, and sometimes using GUCs international.

When the qualifying limit went to $18k I felt that I would struggle to get there, nevertheless I tried but with reduce Covid travel and personal circumstances, I did not make it so got down to Platinum for the 2023 year.

Now, DL has increased the limit to an absurd level, where I have absolutely no chance of achieving. So, instead of busting to get PM again, I'm going to use whatever airline makes more sense to me. I am based out of SNA; I woun't fly via SLC or ATL to get to Chicago, or New York when AA and UA can offer a similar experience nonstop. I won't drive down to LAX to go to SFO anymore to see family in San Francisco, when SW and UA can get me there in half the time. Of course, I will still use DL when it makes sense, and in fact I'll still prioritize my flight to DL when it doesn't inconvenience me.

In March, just before my DL Platinum Amex comes up for renewal, I will cancel the account because it has no value to me, just a cost. I have 2 other Amex cards, Visa and MasterCard. I just don't need a card which I pay for, that has a practically zero ROI (and I don't consider ordinary SkyMiles worth spending for like that).

Now, I know from reading comments in other threads that some Medallions like the changes, and some don't. Some are in a practically identical position to me, and are planning to do what I am doing. I am not a math MBA, but I would guess that the number of loyal flyers spending $28k annually on tickets, or who can drop 250k in spend on a card, are in a smaller bucket than those who could spend $15k. But those are the people DL wants, and it is gambling that the rest of the herd won't stray too far. I am not sure that's accurate.

If the number of $28k passengers numbers in the thousands, I would bet that the number of passengers like me numbers in the many tens, or even hundreds of thousands. If the majority of those see no value in loyalty, they'll go away. Like me. And, even though I am not a math MBA, I know that 100,000*15k is worth more than 1,000*$28k, or even 10,000*28k.

DL seems to believe it has a problem with too many loyal flyers, and the solution to that problem is to redistribute the ranks, thin the higher value ones, moving lower value ones into lower tiers. Wrong on both accounts IMO. It's not a problem having too many loyal flyers, the problem is with managing them. Culling them is not the solution, these people still fly, they will just fly elsewhere. Look at Alaska and Southwest and Jet Blue offering status matches and upgrades, salivating on getting this money!

Delta has 'solved' a problem it didn't have.

It's said that if everyone is special, then no one is special. But that's wrong. When I was DM, I felt special even though I knew there were a lot of us.

I think this decision has come about as a knee-jerk reaction to an overabundance of high level Medallions straining DL's infrastructure due to the (generous) rollover policies from Covid. A short term problem that would have solved itself over the next year without any changes. And also a wish by DL to create a level of loyalty which high spenders can aspire to. But they already had that with the 360 tier - why not have just marketed that better?

Anyway, enough of my rant. I just thought I'd air my thoughts. To answer my own rhetorical question, No, nothing is permanent. But for me and maybe tens of thousands, it feels like I'm not respected anymore, and so I will spend my meager funds less emotionally in future.
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tanglin is offline  
Old Nov 3, 2023, 6:06 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Yes they have.

how many others will be like us?

halted co-brand card spend,
Now flying any carrier

we are not million milers, just diamond.

and now FREE agents.

well done!
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 6:48 pm
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by tanglin
We're all aware here of the recent changes Delta has made, to 'improve' the overall experience in SkyClubs, Upgrades etc. On the face of it, it seems logical that DL want to attract high value customers and reward them accordingly.

From 2010 until 2022 I was DM, every year, and I really enjoyed it. I traveled fairly frequently, often internationally and spent around $15k annually, I did this by prioritizing DL over any other airline, often paying more (a little more) than I should have for the flights, and often (practically always) taking a flight with a stop at a hub to change to a plane going to actually where I needed to be. I have been to SLC, SEA, ATL more times than I can count!

The problem is, DL doesn't seem to want lower value passengers like me anymore. When I was DL there forever wasn't really an issue with lounge overcrowding (this seems to have happened recently when Covid rollovers swelled the ranks somewhat). I got reasonable upgrades on domestic flights, and sometimes using GUCs international.

When the qualifying limit went to $18k I felt that I would struggle to get there, nevertheless I tried but with reduce Covid travel and personal circumstances, I did not make it so got down to Platinum.
I believe the DM MQD requirement was $15k in 2022 and then $20k in 2023. Never $18k.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 6:57 pm
  #4  
 
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I think taking nonstop flights and traveling out of the most convenient airports will be a big upgrade for you. To answer your question directly - Delta probably makes a lot less money or even loses money from a slightly higher ticket price that has a stop. Think about it - they are basically giving you two flights for the price of one. Plus, layovers contribute heavily to the lounge overcrowding issue, so yes - it sounds like your planned changes are exactly what Delta wants.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 7:28 pm
  #5  
 
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I'm about as loyal to Delta as they come - but I'm really still not sure what to do about my DL Amex Platinum. I feel like keeping the card for the 2500 MQD but not spending a dime on it ....just using it for the certificate and the 15% discount, but keeping it in my wallet. I spent (so far) $65k on it this year - now its kinda like - ehh...just get the 2500 basic and leave it there
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 7:29 pm
  #6  
 
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You never answered the real question though, what credit card will you use? If you only fly DL 75% of the time but still spend on a DL credit card they would ok. You are correct that there are a lot more people on the bottom of each tier, and it is a large number, but everything comes down to the credit card piece not how much you fly them. I personally thought they would do something more like add a new tier or lower the 360 requirements.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 8:40 pm
  #7  
 
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Not to be that guy, but kind of curious why this is a new thread?

We dont need a bunch of threads on the same issue. This should be merged into the existing master thread regarding the skymiles changes.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 9:23 pm
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by tanglin
From 2010 until 2022 I was DM, every year, and I really enjoyed it. I traveled fairly frequently, often internationally and spent around $15k annually, I did this by prioritizing DL over any other airline, often paying more (a little more) than I should have for the flights, and often (practically always) taking a flight with a stop at a hub to change to a plane going to actually where I needed to be. I have been to SLC, SEA, ATL more times than I can count!.
DL drastically reduced the value of their mileage program between 2010 and 2022 and saw many people, like yourself, continue to stay with DL. I was a DL DM from 2011-16 or so and beginning in that five-year span, we saw SDC downgraded dramatically, the move from distance-based earning to fare-based earning and drastic reductions in earning for most fares in the process, the introduction and then nerfing of GUCs/RUCs, a dramatic reduction in the value and ease of using miles for international J trips, and FCM bringing down upgrade opportunities.

They believe that you'll stay with them even as they make the program less valuable, because that's what people have done so far. Whether that will happen or not in practice is what we'll have to see in the years to come, but DL clearly felt confident that they could eliminate some of the medallions flying on cheaper fares and maintain a higher level of service for people actually paying premiums to earn their status.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 9:41 pm
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by steveholt
DL Airlines drastically reduced the value of their mileage programs
#FTFY

The US has eliminated a lot of competition through mergers of large airlines in the last decade or two. Reduced supply means carriers simply don't have to do as much to attract/retain customers. Good for them, bad for us FFers.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 9:48 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by shoodawg
we are not million milers, just diamond.
Isn't that the name of the game?

As a 3MMer, my quest is now over. I never have to go on mileage runs or spend tons of money on AMEX again. I will always treasure the memories of the mileage runs I did make.

I can become a free agent if I want and not put my future Delta status at risk. However, I want to keep flying on the Big D because my chances of being treated more humanely are better on it than on the other airlines. If I were to switch to UA or AA, I would still have to change planes in one of their hubs (other than to DCA on AA). If I want non-stops to places like Florida or LAS, my choices are NK, F9 and WN. Or drive 50+ miles to CAK and go on Breeze or Allegiant (where they fly twice weekly to their destinations).
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 10:31 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by ND76
As a 3MMer, my quest is now over.
Your quest was to sit in a particular airlines seats for three million miles?
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 10:45 pm
  #12  
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Delta "permanently damages" its loyalty program every 3-5 years, but amazingly this forum (comprised of Delta loyalists) still exists.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 11:03 pm
  #13  
 
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For me they've at least temporarily damaged their credit cards - absolutely no way I'm going to put my company's hard spent dollars into the pursuit of skypesos or paltry MQD conversions.

I'll very likely continue to fly with them for lots of reasons plus I'll be DM for a couple more years, but Non-DL CC spend is going to 2% cash back from now on...
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 11:25 pm
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by HDQDD
#FTFY

The US has eliminated a lot of competition through mergers of large airlines in the last decade or two. Reduced supply means carriers simply don't have to do as much to attract/retain customers. Good for them, bad for us FFers.
DL's made more significant negative changes than others.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 11:38 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by tanglin
From 2010 until 2022 I was DM, every year, and I really enjoyed it. I traveled fairly frequently, often internationally and spent around $15k annually,
So you should be MM, close to 2MM. 2MM is permanent Platinum; you don't have to worry about flying to achieve it.

Where Delta is (also) losing is people like me, who used to spend $25K or $50K on a Delta Platinum Amex annually, and will now spend $0K going forward. Sure, some people will increase their spend (and upgrade their card as well), but I believe there are a lot more like me who will drop their spend and even drop the card. (I'm married, so I get value out of the companion certificate.)
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