When I stared blogging over a decade ago, as the blogger “Delta Points,” I relished a light-hearted “blog fight” between my friend Gary or others here on BoardingArea in defending the value of Delta SkyMiles. Back then, if you worked it, you could get incredible value in business class to Europe for 100,000 points round trip and even tack on an extra segment at the end as an open jaw for up to 1 year free.
It. Was. Glorious.
I did not know it at the time but this was really the high point for the value of SkyMiles, with a steady drop in value from the beginning of the EOS or the hated “Evolution of Skymiles“. One of the first really nasty destructions of value was the end of stopovers on awards. Speaking face to face to one of the heads, at the time, of SkyMiles, at a private event, I was arrogantly told, “don’t you like paying for two tickets” vs. just one with a stopover?
I. Was. Flabbergasted!
From that point, the race to the destruction of real value was on. No warning award chart “enhancements” hit again and again, sometimes even twice in a year. Delta SkyMiles showed no shame or remorse for these hits to loyalty. Heck, during the middle of the pandemic, they even destroyed one of the few remaining values, that is, using SkyMiles in business class on partners at a “reasonable” price.
Why, for so many years now, has Delta “gotten away with this,” you may be thinking? The reason really is simple, as Gary posted here.
“…It’s because they can get away with it, and customers keep earning Skymiles and signing up for the Delta credit card.” and “As long as customers keep engaging with Skymiles, they have no reason to offer better value to members.” – BOLD MINE
And there you have it from the head of Delta Skymiles no less.
They can keep destroying value, keep changing things without notice, trash partner award value, and on and on. Because flyers keep taking the constant abuse and then keep coming back for more.
I, for one, am not “part of the problem.” As you can see, I do not hold a Delta SkyMiles credit card and have not since almost the start of the pandemic. I reached the point where I could not take the abuse from SkyMiles anymore. I did reach Diamond again for 2023 but as you can see, I did not overspend by much on my Delta and partner tickets (ya gotta admit, clearing by $3 is kinda epic, right?)! I am also burning my what was once a sizable SkyMiles balance down to a much more reasonable sum to hold on to.
So, what will it take to change things? What will possibly motivate Delta to change?
Clearly, Amex has to become as disenchanted with Delta as I now am. They have to see a steady and solid drop in new cardholders and folks blindly spending on their SkyMiles credit cards.
Will this happen? Here is what I see next.
I do think we are at a tipping point and neither Delta nor Amex see it yet. When you see things like this on FlyerTalk it should be a wake-up call. But changes will not happen overnight. So what next?
To stem the bleeding of the seemingly never-ending cash cow of new customers they will increase the new card bonus offers to eye-watering amounts. For example, even with the shift to the value of a SkyMiles around 1 cent, a 150,000 point new card offer is “worth” $1,500 in the minds of a “normal” Delta flyer. If 150,000 does not work then 200,000 and so on!
This will work for a while — and Delta can keep right on doing to SkyMiles what they have been for years and years now.
At some point, all of this will have an impact. I fear it will take many more years and many more cuts and devaluations before we reach that point. I, for my part, am earning points I can use either cash back or points that retain value and can be transferred to other airlines to still get value for my spending dollars. You? – René
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