Delta, SkyMiles

Delta Air Lines CEO Says Airline Went ‘Too Far’ With SkyMiles Crackdown, Vows Revisions

The CEO of Delta Air Lines admits the airline probably went too far with the changes it made to its frequent flier program, SkyMiles.

During a recent event at the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Ed Bastian announced more changes coming to the airline’s SkyMiles program and lounge access policy, CNN reports, but took accountability for the changes that caused an uproar on social media a few weeks ago.

“No question, we probably went too far in doing that,” Bastian said on Sept. 25. “Our team wanted to kind of rip the Band-Aid off and didn’t want to have to keep going through this every year with changes and nickel- and-diming and whatnot, and I think we moved too fast.”

In early September 2023, the company stamped changes that would take effect in 2025, making it more difficult for American Express cardholders to access Delta Sky Clubs and earn Medallion elite status. Fans weren’t too happy with the changes, and an uproar on social media ensued.

The way the airline awards Medallion elite status will also change in 2024, using only one metric: Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD). It’s also eliminating the popular MQD waiver offered to Delta credit card holders.

Bastian finally explained why things changed, saying the jump in elite status holders was too much for Delta’s premium services to handle, including airport lounge access. The CEO said it got to a point where Delta couldn’t serve its members for basics like upgrade certificates and getting agents on special phone lines.

He said the company wants to be sure it can provide top-tier frequent flyers with the service they expect, and promised new modifications “sometime over the next few weeks,” according to the Associated Press.

Shortly after Delta’s policy changes went viral, competing airlines decided to recruit new customers with their own. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways jumped in, saying they would match their loyalty status in those carriers’ programs.

Know someone who fell out of love with their airline loyalty program?” Alaska Airlines tweeted with a broken heart emoji. “We’ll match their status and more with the #1 Airline Loyalty Program in the U.S.”

Delta is now part of a long list of corporations, such as Best Buy, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks, to be attacked over their rewards program changes.

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