Delta Travelers Threatening Boycott Over Rewards and Lounge Access Changes
Many say they will be canceling their cards and moving over to different carriers.
Carrier perks can make or break a passenger's flight experience, especially if you travel often. So over the years, Delta Air Lines has managed to garner a significant amount of loyal travelers due to its frequent flyer program and Sky Club airport lounges. But now, the airline has just announced new changes to its rewards and lounge access that may undo all the trust it's built up with passengers. Read on to discover why Delta travelers are now threatening to boycott the carrier.
Delta is overhauling its SkyMiles program.
In a Sept. 13 press release, Delta Air Lines announced that it is "simplifying" its loyalty program in the new year. Starting Jan. 1, SkyMiles Members will only be able to earn towards the elite Medallion status through Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD). The carrier is phasing out Medallion Qualifying Miles (MGM) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQS), which travelers were previously able to use to work towards elite status.
As Dwight James, Delta's senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty, told USA Today, the decision to consolidate earning options into the single MQD metric is meant to make its SkyMiles program more streamlined.
"We looked at a lot of different metrics and one thing we included was MQD was already part of our construct and it seemed to resonate the most and the best with a lot of our members," James said. "We did want to come to one metric. Customers indicated that this resonated well with them."
It is also raising the thresholds needed to achieve elite status.
Delta noted that travelers will have more ways to build up MQDs with the new overhaul. This includes things like Delta and partner flights, Delta SkyMiles American Express Cards, Delta car rentals, Delta stays, and Delta vacations. But the carrier is not just changing how you earn elite status; it's also changing the thresholds to achieve each Medallion level in the new year.
The Silver Medallion status threshold will rise from 3,000 MQDs to 6,000 MQDs, Gold Medallion status will increase from 8,000 MQDs to 12,000 MQDs, Platinum Medallion status will go from 12,000 MQDs to 18,000 MQDs, and Diamond Medallion status will climb from 20,000 MQDs to 35,000 MQDs.
"These changes won't impact your 2024 Medallion Status—just how you earn for 2025," Delta explains on its website. "Status for 2024 is earned in 2023. These changes are first applicable in 2024 toward 2025 Status."
Delta is planning to restrict access to its lounges as well.
Changes are also going to hit Delta's Sky Club lounges. The carrier announced that it is updating its lounge access guidelines for some American Express Card Members "as part of its continued efforts to help preserve the premium experience in the airline's popular lounges." Starting Feb. 1, 2025, Delta will limit how many times you can visit its Sky Clubs each year based on the card you hold.
American Express cardholders with the Platinum Card or the Business Platinum Card will be capped at six visits per Medallion year. Meanwhile, Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business cardholders will be limited to 10 annual visits. No limitations are being placed on Sky Club access for travelers with the Centurion Card from American Express, according to The Points Guy.
But before that, some travelers will be barred from the Sky Club lounges altogether in the new year. Starting on Jan. 1, those with the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card will no longer have access to the carrier's lounges. Previously, these cardholders have been able to pay for access per visit at a rate of $50 per person.
Also, anyone booked on a basic economy ticket will be barred from the Sky Club beginning Jan. 1—no matter which American Express card they hold.
Travelers are threatening to boycott the airline over these changes.
James told The Wall Street Journal that the changes to Delta's rewards and lounge access will help the carrier ensure that it is "reserving the most premium experiences for our most premium customers." As a result, it appears that the airline has, in turn, caused some clear tension among its other loyal travelers.
"I know y'all are super loyal to Delta but Delta not super loyal to you cause their policies seem like they tryna keep it elitist," one person wrote in a Sept. 14 X post. Another X user posted, "Imagine spending $35,000 in @Delta flights per year and them telling you 'sorry this is your eleventh visit to SkyClub. No Chex mix in a plastic cup for you!'"
Many travelers have also indicated that they plan to boycott Delta over the changes by moving to other carriers. "Aye, @Delta just a heads up, I'll be switching my card type after this BS. Thanks for giving me the green light to book with more affordable airlines," one person wrote on X. Another user voiced a similar stance by posting, "Wow… @Delta just torched their entire SkyMiles, AMEX, and Sky Club programs in one announcement. It's an unusual business move to tell the most passionate and loyal customers to get screwed. Only dollars count for benefits. I have other options to fly now I guess."