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WebFlyer Home > News & Advice > NotiFlyer

NotiFlyer :: Late-Breaking News
Late-Breaking Program News Delta Takes New Tack
(Posted: Dec 18, 2003)

Like Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch, Delta is recanting its miserly ways in favor of a more giving spirit -- at least when it comes to rewarding its most frequent flyers.

On Dec. 18, Delta announced changes to its SkyMiles program that make it easier for members who fly on discount fares and/or who fly mainly shorthaul routes to earn elite status, and provide increased upgrade benefits for those who are able to achieve Medallion status. The changes, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2004, include the following:

  • The elite qualifying minimum mileage amount will be increased from 500 to 750 miles -- This is a significant change for members who primarily fly on shorthaul routes, especially if they also fly on deeply discounted fares. In essence, a member of this type will now only need to fly 67 segments to earn Silver Medallion status, whereas previously, 100 segments would have been required.

  • Introduction of unlimited upgrades for all elite members as well as an automatic upgrade system -- Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members can now each request upgrades at time of booking and all will be put into an upgrade que based on their elite level and booking class. For example, a Platinum member who purchases a ticket in H, Q or K class will automatically have his upgrade confirmed 100 hours before departure, while a Silver member who purchases a ticket in any of the same fare classes will be confirmed 48 hours before departure ( for a complete list of upgrade confirmation rules, go to http://www.delta.com/skymiles/about/medallion_updates/med_upgrades/index.jsp#autoup ).

  • Ability to upgrade a traveling companion -- All SkyMiles Medallion members now have the option to upgrade one companion when traveling on the same flight -- an option that was unavailable under the old program rules.

    "Next year, Delta's Medallion members will represent our highest revenue customers," says Vicki Escarra, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Delta, "and as part of our renewed commitment to customer service, we want to reward them by making upgrade benefits more widely available and a lot more user-friendly."

    Generally, the announcement has been well received by members, and many are convinced the changes are a direct result of member pressure from groups such as Save SkyMiles ( http://www.saveskymiles.com ). Though this may be accurate to some extent, the unlimited upgrades and automatic upgrade processing benefits have likely been added by Delta to more closely align the SkyMiles programs with the programs of new partners Northwest and Continental.

    Previous comments:

    Rick Frey
    posted: Dec 20, 2003 at 5:59pm (MT)

    While this is a move in the right direction Delta has done nothing to compromise its policy of cutting qualification miles for discounted fares in half. This is a big disappointment and will likely be the reason for me to switch loyalty to NWA.

    Paul Paquette
    posted: Dec 23, 2003 at 7:56pm (MT)

    It’s interesting to note that NWA, Continental, and Delta all announced the exact same rules for earning miles and elite qualification for 2004. I agree that Delta's 2002 changes for 2003 were a little extreme. However I think it about time that everyone realized the airlines are a business and as such are expected to turn a profit. Travelers should be rewarded to how the effect the profitability, not how long they sit in a seat. If people were rewarded for staying around a business with out spending lots of money, my wife might own several department stores by now, as she loves to look through the racks. It should be the same when flying. You get rewarded the repeat business, but you get rewarded more for making the company more profitable. As in the person who shells out the big bucks ($1500-$2000) for a last minute flight, should receive more miles and more credit toward elite status than the other person on the same flight who had a firm schedule to allow them to fly with a 21 day advance purchased ticket on the same flight for under $500. I also think it would be good if the airlines stopped calling them miles and just called them points.

    AJ from NJ
    posted: Dec 27, 2003 at 4:01am (MT)

    As a Delta frequent flier who flew 50 out of 52 weeks, I feel I should be rewarded for my consistent investemnt in Delta. Why is my $15,000 of airline tix worth less if I purchased on L, U, and T fares? As someone who plans ahead and tries to save company money, it is offensive to think that those who spend the same but travel less frequently should benefit more from a program.

    posted: Dec 27, 2003 at 11:18pm (MT)

    The 750 mile minimum is a much appreciated change for us short-haul travelers but the unlimited upgrades for everyone means that platinim members as myself who have to make our reservations at the last minute and pay the highest fare will likely not get the upgrades because the Gold and Silvers who have the luxury to reserve ahead (plus their companions)will already have the seats. This is obviously an over-reaction by Delta's marketing dept. It is no wonder this airline is losing money, they do not know or understand the importance of their very best customers.

    Steve K
    posted: Jan 12, 2004 at 10:58pm (MT)

    It's nice to see they may be re-thinking some of the drastic changes, but for many like myself, it may be a case of too little too late. Many business travelers cannot indiscriminately pick a higher fare basis, just to get better miles/points. On the contrary, most of us are encouraged to take discount fares when available. Frequent Flyer programs were originally designed to reward customer loyalty. I CAN be loyal... in that I can usually specify my airline preference... but I will not be disloyal to my own company in order to help Delta's bottom line, and hopefully get a few more points. That's what it boils down to, and the reson why I'm looking elsewhere for my preferred airline. It's a shame... I've racked up a LOT of miles on Delta. But I guess they've forgotten where their bread is buttered. And so I begin my search (that's how I found THIS site) for a more "friendly" sky!

    Phil H
    posted: Jan 14, 2004 at 6:41pm (MT)

    I applaud Delta for their recent changes in the Skymiles program. I travel 50 out of the 52 weeks in the year, and do not have the option of booking my own tickets. The travel dept for my company handles all my bookings well in advance of the 21 day advance purchase window. Inevidably I end up on an L U or T fare. By moving the bar from 500 to 750 miles, I can now have a decent chance of maintaining my Gold Status. My apologizes to the Platinum members who have to buy their tickets at the last moment and can't get upgraded. Life sucks, and while I do realize that you may not always have the opportunity to plan your trip in advance, maybe you should change your business practices. Delta has definately taken a step in the right direction.

    Bob H
    posted: Jan 25, 2004 at 9:50pm (MT)

    I'm an owner of a small business and up until this year a gold medallion flier. When Delta instituted it's Draconian changes, I sent emails and letters to no avail. All I could do was vote with my dollars and I dropped down to below Silver Medallion level this past year. Obviously other people did the same thing and the program has begun to shape up for 2004. I'm willing to forgive and start booking Delta flights again but they won't get a second chance if the pull that garbage again.

    Jeff M
    posted: Mar 4, 2004 at 10:18am (MT)

    I gave up on Delta long ago. I fly internationally on business (in business class), and like to take lots of domestic fun trips in L. I knew Delta was not for me when I could not upgrade on a Saturday leisure trip when there were empty seats in first because of my L ticket. I was not surprised in 2003 and don't think the changes in 2004 will bring in many new customers, the program is not competitive with other airlines.

    posted: Mar 13, 2004 at 2:14am (MT)

    I was an elite member of Delta until March 1 of this year. The drastic changes seemed to be too much too fast. I think they have and will continue to lose business revenue. Last year I took many flights to FL from the NYC BDL market. These are DeltaExpress/Song flights. They of course were booked in andvance and resulted in low fare basis. Now I have shifted to Jetblue so now Delta has none of my business. I have begun more European and Asian travel having made several trips none on Delta. There are only two ways I will return to Delta, 1. I have no choice becasue of the route, or 2 They reinstate my Medallion status. I am now qualified on two other airlines and that is where I will keep my business. Whoever came up with this idea will probably lose their job for this short sited error.

    Ron Stevens
    posted: Jun 10, 2004 at 9:44pm (MT)

    I had been Gold Medallion with Delta for 8 years. But I refused to purchase that status. I stayed with Delta last year only to get the double miles. This year I switched to United on their program that will match your status of a competitor. This year I get double miles on United and U S Air with their Premiere Executive plan. Thnx United! Ron Stevens

    posted: Jun 22, 2004 at 4:03am (MT)

    If you would have asked me last year, I would have told you that I was switching airlines, but I saw hope of change. I think Delta's new program rocks. It 180 of last year. As a platinum medallion Delta has shown me that they continue to care about my business. Unless they start moving the other direction again, I'm sticking with Delta.

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