Delta’s SkyMiles overhaul sparks backlash from loyal customers

Delta’s SkyMiles overhaul sparks backlash from loyal customers

Delta Air Lines has announced a major revamp of its SkyMiles loyalty program, which will take effect in 2024. The changes have sparked a backlash from many loyal customers, who feel that the airline is making it harder and more expensive to earn elite status and enjoy its perks.

The main change is that Delta will no longer award status based on the number of miles flown or segments taken, but only on the amount of money spent on fares and Delta-branded credit cards. This means that customers will have to spend more to reach the same level of status as before, or even higher.

Delta’s SkyMiles overhaul sparks backlash from loyal customers
Delta’s SkyMiles overhaul sparks backlash from loyal customers

For example, to achieve Silver Medallion status, the lowest tier, customers will have to spend $6,000 in 2024, up from $3,000 in 2023. To reach Diamond Medallion status, the highest tier, customers will have to spend $35,000 in 2024, up from $15,000 in 2023. These thresholds will increase further in 2025, to $8,000 and $40,000 respectively.

Delta says that the changes are meant to simplify the program and reward customers who are fully engaged with the airline. The carrier also says that it will offer new ways to earn status through other purchases, such as car rentals, hotels, and vacations booked through Delta.

However, many customers are not convinced by these arguments. They say that the changes are unfair and devalue their loyalty. Some have even threatened to switch airlines or cancel their Delta credit cards.

One customer wrote on Reddit: “I’ve been loyal to this brand for a decade now. And they’ve flushed my loyalty down the toilet.” Another customer wrote on Twitter: “With Delta’s upcoming SkyMiles changes it is clear that loyalty isn’t bidirectional. Luckily we can vote with our dollars. I’m excited to try some new airlines soon!”

Delta is not the first airline to overhaul its loyalty program in recent years. American Airlines made similar changes to its AAdvantage program in 2021, also basing status on spending rather than miles flown. However, Delta’s changes seem to be more drastic and less generous than American’s.

Delta is also making changes to its Sky Club lounge access policy, which will affect some customers starting in 2024. Basic economy travelers will be excluded from accessing the lounges, even if they have a membership or a credit card that grants them access. Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders will also lose their automatic access to the lounges. Reserve and Reserve Business cardholders will have limited free access in 2025, depending on how much they spend on their cards.

Delta’s Sky Club lounges are popular among frequent flyers, who enjoy the amenities and services they offer. However, some lounges have become overcrowded in recent years, especially after Delta extended the status of its members due to the pandemic. Delta says that the changes are meant to improve the lounge experience for its most loyal customers.

The reaction to the lounge access changes has also been negative among some customers. One customer wrote on Instagram: “This is a huge slap in the face for those of us who fly Delta regularly and use our Amex cards for everything.” Another customer wrote on Twitter: “Delta Sky Club access was one of the main reasons I got the Platinum card. Now I’m seriously considering canceling it.”

Delta’s SkyMiles program has been recognized as one of the best in the industry by various awards and rankings. The airline has more than 100 million SkyMiles members worldwide. It remains to be seen how the changes will affect its customer satisfaction and loyalty in the long run.

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