Delta Is Rolling Back Its Planned Changes After Widespread Backlash
The carrier is making adjustments to recently announced loyalty program plans.
Delta Air Lines has become a popular choice for U.S. travelers over the years, thanks at least in part to its frequent flyer program and beloved airport lounges. But last month, the carrier announced that it would be making several changes to some of the perks its passengers have gotten used to. Naturally, this didn't go over well, and now the Atlanta-based airline is already making new adjustments to try to appease angry customers. Read on to find out how Delta is rolling back its plans.
Last month Delta announced that it would be overhauling its SkyMiles program.
In a Sept. 13 press release, Delta Air Lines announced plans for "simplifying" its SkyMiles program and perks starting next year. The carrier said that on Jan. 1, it would be phasing out different qualifying metrics. Then the next year, on Feb. 1, 2024, Delta indicated that it would start limiting access to its popular airport lounges.
"We wanted to make the program more welcoming to customers. But we also want to ensure that we're reserving the most premium experiences for our most premium customers," Dwight James, Delta's senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty, told The Wall Street Journal at the time.
Travelers threatened to boycott the carrier.
The news of Delta's decision last month immediately sparked widespread backlash, especially among some of its loyal passengers.
"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," one traveler posted Sept. 14 on X.
Another X user wrote, "Aye, @Delta just a heads up, I'll be switching my card type after this … Thanks for giving me the green light to book with more affordable airlines."
Delta is now rolling back some of its previously announced changes.
Following the widespread backlash, the airline is switching things up once again. In an Oct. 18 note posted on LinkedIn, Delta CEO Ed Bastian thanked travelers for sharing their feedback about the changes announced to the SkyMiles program in September.
"I have read hundreds of your emails, and what's been most clear to me is how much you love Delta and the disappointment many of you felt by the significance of the changes," Bastian wrote. "I appreciate your opinions and understand your disappointment. Your voice matters, and we are listening."
Bastian said that the response from its members "made clear the changes did not fully reflect the loyalty" they have demonstrated to Delta over the years.
"Based on your feedback, we are making program adjustments and adding new benefits to begin earning in 2024 toward your 2025 status," he shared.
The new adjustments will impact membership qualifiers and lounge access.
Delta is walking back some of its most controversial changes affecting two parts of its program: membership qualifiers and lounge access. In an Oct. 18 press release, the carrier announced that it would be making the "requirements for achieving 2025 Medallion Status more accessible" by reducing the number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) needed for each tier.
The Silver Medallion status threshold will drop to 5,000 MQDs from 6,000 MQDs, Gold Medallion status will go down to 10,000 MQDs from 12,000 MQDs, Platinum Medallion status will decrease to 15,000 MQDs from 18,000 MQDs, and Diamond Medallion status will fall to 28,000 MQDs from 35,000 MQDs.
According to the release, certain card members will also "benefit from increased access" to its Delta Sky Club Airport lounges. Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business card members will now receive 15 visits per year instead of 10, while card members with the Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card from American Express will receive 10 annual visits instead of six.
The carrier is "redefining club visits" as well with its new changes, indicating that a Delta Sky Club visit now "includes all entries within a 24-hour period after first Club entry, including your departure city, connecting airports and arrival at your destination."
Card members with Delta SkyMiles Reserve or Reserve Business, along with card members with the Platinum Card from American Express, will also have the option to purchase extra club access "after exhausting their allotted club entries" at a per-visit rate of $50 per person.