In this ad Delta put out they say the “The Only Way is Up”. Well, I think I clearly showed that over the past few years #KeepDescending has been a strong focus for Delta. But that is not to say it has been ALL bad. But folks even fly bad airlines when the price is cheap enough so it takes more than that – right?
So to respond to my challenger (you know who you are, Bob) I thought I would point out, as a counter point, all the good and truly impressive things Delta has changed or improved over the past few years.
Now there are some conditions to this and some specifics to my methodology. I am NOT counting things that were once good, were cut, then improved again. For example, Delta is adding back a 4th row of domestic 1st class to some ex-NWA birds, but they are only putting back what was there before so that is in my book a “push” at best. And then we have PWM or pay with miles. How do I rate it compared to NWA Cash & Points? In some ways, now that I can earn MQMs on PWMs tickets they are better. But, I don’t have the flexibility the old NWA program had. A hard call right?
The ultimate one that really makes me just crazy is Delta DieMiles, that is, Delta SkyMiles were changed to never expiring. This was amazing compared to everyone else. But then they changed it that when you die your miles die with you (instead of giving them to your family). Reprehensible! I would rather have my miles expire every few years without account activity than have Delta rob me of my miles when I die.
Lastly one-way award fares. In a few situations they are an upgrade, but in others they have destroyed, to me, one of the best features of SkyMiles, that is, stopovers on awards. To me, personally, I would give up one-ways to get stopovers back. Maybe your call is the other way and I acknowledge that here.
So keep the above in mind as I run down the positive changes Delta has made over the past many years (in no particular order of importance):
Sky Priority across Skyteam
Global Upgrade certificates
Regional Upgrade certificates
PWM earns MQMs in coach
PWM earn FULL points in 1st
SkyDecks in JFK & ATL
Skyclub food improvements
GM+ Skyteam lounge access any class international flights
Wifi to just about all jets
Adding Wifi on most international jets
Power ports on most Delta jets
Changing all day meals from 1500+ to 1400+ miles
Quality snack baskets in 1st class
Adding snack baskets to 900+ C+ coach seats
Free drinks & more in C+ seats
Diamonds board with 1st class
Crossover Rewards with SPG
Elite status with Hertz for medallions
Greatly reducing 50 seat jets
Offering 5 & 10k award fares
Opening medallion upgrades to Hawaii (West coast & SLC)
Adding larger overhead bins
Bags on time guarantee or bonus points
Delta Vacations tickets earn points
Delta Studio (free 1st & C+)
Power recharging stations at most Delta gates
A chance to fly PVT jets cheap-ish
Next, while not really “new” so as to be on the list I think it is fair to have a list of things Delta does and has that are better than other airlines or are unique to Delta:
Earn 30k / year MQMs with AMEX spend
On time and non-cancel percentages
Million miler gifts (at many levels)
Choice Benefits for PM & DM elites
Free award changes (up to 72 hrs) for both PM & DM
Starbucks coffee for all cabins (if you like Starbucks)
Free club access for Diamond
Very good food in 1st class
Lastly we have some things Delta does in specific markets that are great if you happen to live there or nearby.
Porsche service for Platinum’s, Diamonds & Delta360
Craft beer selections on selected routes
Improvements to Delta Shuttle product
So there is my list(s). Again, did I miss out on any major improvements Delta has made? I am NOT btw counting things like full flat seat upgrades or bedding upgrades as all the airlines are doing this and Delta would be left behind if they did not do this. Same goes for buying new jets and similar normal industry upgrades.
Also some of these really should include an ” * ” next to them as some of them are nice but also some are really downgrades of what once was even more, like SkyClub membership for Diamonds is still free but was once FULL membership, now just individual or free drinks in C+ when elites used to get HOOU coupons that could even be used on 50 seat jets.
I guess my only issue when it gets down to comparing Monday’s post with today’s post is I wish the “scales” would balance out more toward the middle vs. tipping toward the devaluations as that is really what is needed. At least, Delta, give us as much as you take back since we are clearly giving you a ton more money than ever before – time to give back a little bit! – René
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Rene, long-time reader, first-time commentor 🙂 (I grew up in Berrien Springs BTW, so I fly in/out of SBN to see my folks fairly often, so I know your pain re: enhanced jet service /lack thereof)
Anyway, I’ve been high/top-level elite on Delta, AA, UA, Turkish, Airberlin, and Alaska over the years. What tends to set DL apart for me – from 2000, when I first flew them, through today – is the generally consistently positive employee attitude and service, in-flight, at the airport, and via phone; they’re well above both AA and UA in my opinion – then and now, and I just didn’t see this mentioned so I wanted to note it.
I don’t like many of the changes and agree with you there should be more middle-ground, but so far while I’m burning my DL miles as fast as I can, I still feel that for domestic US carriers, DL is among the top when it comes to most interactions with their employees, and especially what they are willing to do for their elite fliers.
Keep up the interesting blog and keep us informed,
@Todd – Hey thanks for your comment and for reading the blog and your thoughts! Much appreciated. – Rene
In the specific to Delta category, being able to achieve DM status via credit card spend is at the top of my list.
Last night I booked 3 business class seats on the non-stop, one-way from Istanbul to JFK for June 25, 2016. It cost 80,000 miles each, and only a couple of years ago you could fly R/T to Europe for 100,000 miles. So I’m not happy about the value of the SkyPeso/Ruble/Drachma. But, the ability to book ONE-WAY Awards is an extremely valuable new feature.
I just flew through FRA…and Medalion members no longer get lounge access. I’m Diamond with a Reserve card and no chance for me. I ended up clearing a Global Upgrade at the gate, so I could have gone in if I was cleared earlier…I already complained abou that to Delta, but it’s worthwhile to mention that not every international flight to GM+ get lounge access.
Please delta. Don’t ruin the good stuff by telling us the bad stuff is actually an improvement. We are adults and somewhat intelligent. My preference is just tell it like it is.
were you on Delta metal ? I do SEA-CDG-SEA frequently and always get AF lounge access as a Delta DM in CDG
Yes I was on Delta metal. 95% of the time I fly J/Z, but in this case I was on an economy fare. In CDG and AMS, there are no questions, as those airports are Skyteam hubs. But FRA is a Star Alliance Hub with a “other airline” lounge. That other lounge used to be for Skyteam Gold+ or Amex Plat or Delta Amex Reserve. As of late last year, that changed to only those with Business Class seats. No Amex card or SkyClub card or Medaliaon status will get you into the lounge. On a good note, Priority Pass lounge cards are accepted. So if you have that through the AMEX Plat card, you would be able to get in.