The rumors were true. As a longtime (25+ years) loyal fan of Delta Air Lines and as one whom, when asked, "What do you think is the best airline in the United States?" my answer has always been Delta, I am disappointed with their recent announcements.
Over these years, I have maintained solid brand loyalty with Delta. Of course, I sometimes had to fly on other airlines based on specific reasons such as price, flight times, or routes, but I would ALWAYS check for Delta first before booking anything. I recently (last week) flew from Austin (AUS) to Los Angeles (LAX) and had a great experience and enjoyed my time in the Delta Sky Club, both in Austin and Los Angeles. Just two weeks ago, I decided I would re-earn my Medallion Status in 2024, at least until this news dropped.
What is Changing?
Delta claims if everyone is special, then no one is special. I don't think they are going to make much difference in lounge crowding or flight experience by changing the terms of the program. I think instead they will lose customers and reputation.
Lounge Access Changes
- Delta American Express Reserve card members will now be limited to 10 total visits per year* (effective Feb 2025) Bad
- American Express Platinum card members will now be limited to 6 total lounge visits per year* Bad
- Delta American Express Platinum card members will no longer be allowed to pay for lounge entrance (effective Jan 2024) Bad
- Basic Economy class fares will no longer be allowed access to Sky Clubs (effective Jan 2024). Good
* unlimited Sky Club access can be restored if you spend $75,000 annually on your card (starting on January 1, 2024)
Earning Medallion Status Changes
- Delta will no longer use segments (MQS) or miles flown (MQM) to calculate status, instead they will only use dollars (MQD) Bad
- Lounge Access:Limit Amex Lounge admittance based on occupancy to help control lounge overcrowding. Keep it simple: if the lounge is 75% full or there is a line in the lounge entrance, then simply deny Amex entrance into the lounge. This should also apply to paid ($50) entrance for Delta American Express Platinum card members. My thought here is, if the lounge is 25% full, why would Delta not want to maximize the space to 75% and make some money at the same time? Customers could use the Delta app (see below) to determine if the lounge was too crowded for access.
- Earning Medallion Status: Use Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS) and/or Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) to determine status. United Airlines has a process such as this for this loyalty program. Many have said the current process is confusing, and I do agree. I recommend switch to a system that rewards you on either a total spend or total segments to keep it simple. Medallion Status is a driver for brand loyalty, and that is what Delta should be striving for.
The renewal for my American Express Delta Reserve card expires towards the end of 2024, and I have to really think about what I want to do. I ❤️ Delta, but I need to think about how they value people like me vs. other customers. I know I am a drop in the bucket when it comes to Delta revenue, but I still think brand loyalty is something that is hard to gain and something brands should really consider before making significant changes. So, in closing, I ask Delta, What are you doing? Please don't make these changes; instead, consider a different approach. You are known to be the best, and this is not the best for your brand.