It is truly said that there is no product, service, or activity which some company cannot make worse for that company's loyal customers. When it comes to Delta Airlines, the upcoming adverse changes to their Frequent Flyer program go far beyond the typical deterioration of terms and are indeed despicable.
We have been Delta Frequent Flyers for many years, usually flying at least three times a year to American and European destinations. Over those many years, we have seen the continuous erosion of their FF program, by requiring more FF miles (earned by flying Delta) required for both domestic and foreign travel. Over those many years, we have seen the benefits of the Delta FF American Express card deteriorate so that one must continually upgrade the card (at increased annual cost, of course) to enjoy what remains of those benefits. Over those many years, we have seen Delta wiggle out of FF benefits for a host of reasons.
Now, starting in January, 2015, Delta is changing the entire basis of its Frequent Flyer program from MILES TRAVELED to MONEY SPENT ON TICKETS. Incredibly, a Delta spokesperson stated in a television interview that this adverse change is intended to "reward the most loyal Delta customers." So, now we know what Delta means by loyalty -- loyalty is merely a matter of money, not of miles traveled or how many Delta flights are taken by FF members annually. Even so, it is the companies footing the bill which are loyal, by this new definition -- and not the flyers.
Obviously, Delta thinks business travelers, who are much more likely to go first class or business class since their companies are paying for tickets, count for more than retired folks like us, who travel in tourist class with legs that get numb due to lack of legroom and meals that are often nonexistent on Delta domestic flights. Our loyalty exists in spite of those forms of flyer mistreatment, not because of them. Now, another Delta abuse will be the tiny number of FF miles we will get for our loyalty, beginning in January 2015.
Shame on Delta Airlines for catering primarily to those who do not pay for their own tickets, by defining LOYALTY as equivalent to SPENDING MONEY ON DELTA TICKETS. If Delta really cared about its loyal customers, the airline might add a second track to its FF program which counted money spent in addition to miles flown in making Frequent Flyer awards. That simple change in their 2015 proposal would make the program much less adverse to non-business flyers.
Consider this article, then, a plea for Delta Airlines to make that simple change and thus -- for once -- make FF a better program for everyone, not just a reward for the rich. Otherwise, with the present proposal, Delta Airlines should change their slogan to: FLY THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES WITH DELTA!
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)