Delta Air Lines is making adjustments to its frequent-flyer program, SkyMiles, after receiving feedback from its members. Although the airline still intends to prioritize high-spenders over frequent fliers, it has responded to customer disappointment and concerns by reconsidering some of the previously announced changes.
CEO Ed Bastian addressed the concerns in an email sent to SkyMiles members. He acknowledged the overwhelming love for Delta expressed by members and the disappointment caused by the significant changes. The main points of contention were related to the difficulty of achieving elite status and the introduction of new restrictions for accessing airport lounges.
The changes were initially announced in September to address overcrowding at lounges and the increasing number of elite-status customers, which made it challenging for others to secure upgrades. The airline proposed a shift in how elite status is achieved, primarily based on spending with Delta rather than counting flights or miles flown. This simplified approach, however, meant significantly higher spending requirements for each SkyMiles tier.
Despite the revisions, flights and miles will still not contribute towards elite status. However, the spending requirements will be increased, albeit to a lesser extent than originally planned in September.
Delta Air Lines aims to strike a balance between addressing the challenges faced by the frequent-flyer program and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Delta Airlines has announced updates to its loyalty program, set to take effect next year as travelers aim to qualify for elite status in 2025. These changes will offer customers a more attainable path to higher status levels while still preserving the key details of the current program.
One notable change is the reduction in the number of "Medallion qualifying dollars" required for Silver status, the lowest of the four tiers. Previously set at 6,000, it will now only take 5,000 qualifying dollars. Additionally, customers can achieve Silver status with as few as 3,000 qualifying dollars or points if they take enough Delta flights, and accumulating a sufficient number of miles will also count towards qualification.
For the top tier, Diamond status, the required points have been adjusted from the previously outlined 35,000 to 28,000. However, this is still higher than the current requirement of 20,000 points along with sufficient flights.
In response to customer feedback and concerns, Delta plans to revise its initial proposal to limit access to airport lounges for premium credit card holders. The new plan will not be as restrictive as initially suggested in September.
The September proposal had caused some backlash among Delta customers on social media, with a few even threatening to switch to other airlines. Recognizing the importance of customer loyalty, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines attempted to poach Delta's best customers by offering to match their elite status. Additionally, Southwest Airlines announced plans to make it easier to qualify for the top levels of its frequent-flyer program next year.
Within two weeks of announcing the SkyMiles overhaul, Delta CEO Ed Bastian acknowledged the concerns raised and stated that the airline would reassess the proposed changes. He admitted that Delta may have gone too far in its initial proposal, demonstrating the airline's commitment to maintaining a satisfactory loyalty program for its valued customers.
Overall, these updates to Delta's loyalty program present a more accessible and customer-friendly approach while still preserving the underlying structure and key details of the existing system. Travelers can look forward to a clearer path to elite status in the coming years.
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