At some point, this COVID mess will all end. Delta folks are still saying, at their DAL investors days, that it will take a number of years to get everything back to the pre-pandemic levels.
As we get to that point, it will be very interesting to see what pandemic-era changes stick or go.
Let’s take a look at what I think is likely to happen.
- Partner Award Charts/Costs – Bad
- Likelihood of Change – None (for the Better)
One of the most shameless things Delta dumped on us during COVID was not just one, but two massive partner award jumps. Are they done with this destruction of value? Clearly, Delta never ever gives us advanced notice of these dumps.
And I would not be shocked to see another jump in the very near future when you look at what Delta is offering Delta One seats to Europe and beyond (think 500,000+ per person).
For now, the simple solution Delta has come up with is to just not offer business class seats on partners at any price on most popular routes.
- MQM, MQD, MQS Earnings on Award Tickets – Good
- Likelihood of Change – Ends December 31, 2021
That was a stunning change this year. In a way, the Accelerate Promotion helps many of us to keep some kind of elite status with Delta. I think this has been wildly popular. Because Delta views spending SkyMiles the same as spending cash (at a value of cent per point) I would see this getting extended another year — and possibly becoming permanent.
- Preflight Beverage Service (PFB) – Bad (Maybe)
- Likelihood of Change – Could be Permanently Eliminated
Delta has had a reputation of providing better — and more consistent — service than other airlines. You would always see other airlines’ frequent flyers gripe that PFB service was hit or miss (at best). With Delta, you always saw a small Dasani bottle of water at your seat in first class and flight attendants would halt boarding to get you a refreshing adult beverage of your choice. This has been gone during COVID. Since we know that once we are aborne that the air circulation/filtering makes contracting the virus unlikely, I can see the logic of waiting till up in the air for service. Would I miss it if gone for good? Yes – but not that much, honestly.
- Glassware – Bad
- Likelihood of Change – Gosh, I Hope So!
Delta has been using plastic glasses for everything during the pandemic. Since the virus is airborne, I see no other reason for Delta continuing the low-class plastic cups other than cost savings. I expect real stemware to return but who knows how much longer it will take. I know other airlines have brought back this nice little touch.
- Onboard WiFi Change – Good and Bad
- Likelihood of Change – A Mess for a While
A number of airlines have used more than one WiFi provider for years. Delta having just one, what was Gogo, was convenient. Now, depending on the jet you are on, you may or may not be able to still log on with your old Gogo account. In other words, you may have to pay for WiFi even though you have a monthly paid account (or a one-time use pass). With that said, Gogo’s performance over the years has been less than impressive — and a new, fast provider will be a welcome change. At some point, Delta has promised “free” wifi, but that is years away and we will likely have to pay for faster service anyway.
- Twitter Support – Bad
- Likelihood of Change – Must Happen!
Getting support when up in the air was glorious via Delta’s Twitter account. Not only were the reps quick to get back to you, but the competence of the reps was top-notch.
If Delta had not ended this fantastic support source during COVID, I feel we would not have the massive hold time and call back time issue we are currently enduring. Will it come back? It simply must, but Delta seems to want everything to process via the Fly Delta App.
- Delta One Course-By-Course Meal Service – Bad
- Likelihood of Change – Not for a while
Be it international or transcontinental Delta flights, Delta flight attendants serving your meals course-by-course has changed (under the guise of safety) to the way food was provided on domestic first class flights: that is, all at once and on one tray.
Does it matter?
Yes, as this was part of the Delta One experience you are/were paying for. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I don’t think the higher level of service will return for quite some time to come.
- Delta Premium Select Service Downgrade to Coach – Bad
- Likelihood of Change – The Experiment has Ended
On the inaugural Delta A350 flight, I booked Premium Select intentionally because this was the first time ever Delta had offered a real Premium economy product and service. I was simply stunned by just how good it was. Delta’s CEO, in the past, has called Premium Select a business class product. And it really was (or at least “business class lite,” shall we say). Now, it is a bigger seat with coach class service. I think, due to cost savings, the elevated level of service is over. Clearly, this greatly cheapens the value of buying this product for your travel.
- Change fees – Good
- Likelihood of Change – Not for a long time
The ability to change flights, without a fee (other than fare difference) is a huge improvement. I have only, in all my years of flying Delta, ever had to pay for one once and it still gnaws at me. I am thrilled Delta has moved away from this and seems to take a stand that the fees are gone for good. We shall see. I would not be shocked to see some new bean counter bring them back at some point in the future.
- T-72 Award Reeposit Rule Gone – Good
- Likelihood of Change – Unlikely
This was one of the single most punishing SkyMiles rules. That is, you would lose all your redeemed points if you had to cancel your tickets under 72 hours before the flight. Over the past few years, Delta reps have been handing out “one-time exceptions” fairly often. I see no reason for Delta to bring this ridiculous rule back.
- Million Miler Gifts Gone – Bad
- Likelihood of Change – It already has!
Every time you cross 1 million MQM with Delta, you were allowed to select a nice gift as a thank you for your years of loyalty flying Delta. With Delta losing money until this past quarter, they chose to put them on hold. They have now enhanced the program to just give you a Delta gift card but added an award at 5MM and a new Diamond award at 6MM!
- Search for Regional / Global Upgrade Online – Good
- Likelihood of change – It Already Has
When Delta, at long last, opened the ability to search for regional and global upgrade space on Delta.com it was a day we have longed for forever. Not having to call multiple times just to inquire about open space is stunning. Delta has “Bonvoyed” this feature by just about blocking every single seat for upgrade cert space (at least on international). Though Chris and his family were quite successful on transcon flights. So I truly hope Delta opens space back up as it did when the feature launched. But I am not holding my breath.
I think this covers most of what has changed over the past year and a half while the pandemic has been raging. It will be interesting just what it takes to push Delta on a number of these topics (and if I am right about them), as well as others that may come to fruition.
What do you think of all these Delta changes? Are you happy with them or upset that some have gone on so long? Let us know – Rene
Editor’s Note: Neither René nor the blog’s owner trade Delta Air Lines stock.
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.