Delta Air Lines has been for many years now been wearing such strong armor that anything negative they have done has had no real impact to the bottom line to the company. I mean, just look at the numbers and you will see that what I am saying is true regarding full flights, numbers of new SkyMiles members, and an avalanche of new Amex Delta card members.
They have been unstoppable no matter what they do to loyalty.
Well, good for them — but I am getting off the ride.
I have had enough!
I have been vocal about the fact that I am not going for Diamond again for 2024 (I am Delta Diamond Medallion all of 2023 as I earned it last year with help from a few ridiculously cheap SkyTeam business class flights from our partner POINT.me). A number of Delta fliers I know have just completed similar runs to earn $20,000 MQDs for about a week or so of business class flying for a fraction of that price to earn TWO YEARS of Delta Diamond status.
- But I am not doing any Delta mileage runs this year. Here — point by point by point — is why Diamond is no longer worth it to me personally. Let’s see if you agree or disagree with me. All of this ties into the featured photo you see at the top of this post, that is, DEATH by 1000 cuts (or more). Here we go:
The change (enhancement) in Upgrade Certificate Expirations! For as long as I can remember you could “time” when you chose your Medallion Regional or Global Upgrade Certificates and they would expire one year from the date you selected them. Delta changed this to say they now expire, no matter when you choose them, the last day of the Medallion year. Please understand how IRRITATING this change is. You can no longer wait and have up to two full years to spend them and now only have a much more limited time to use and fly them. Disgusting, Delta! Oh, there is more.
The change (enhancement) in Upgrade Certificate use. I can promise you that every single Diamond ever will tell you one of the — I mean THE — single reasons for pushing for Diamond, no matter what else happened with Delta changes, was the chance to take a coach-booked ticket and fly in Delta One. That died as now you must book Delta’s version of Premium Economy to have a chance to upgrade (not to mention the Premium Select experience has been downgraded to coach with a bigger seat). This is yet another big destruction of value that makes everyone question Diamond Medallion’s status worth but there is much more to consider.
The crazy over-crowded Skyclubs AND the 3 hour pre-flight rule. Oh sure, they have got a “we hate you” look and vibe from the hundreds waiting in line when you bypass them to get in the club as a Diamond but even if you get in, the club may be near standing room only and how in the world is this an exclusive experience? Oh, add to this the uninspiring food and low quality wine choices and you will question why you even bothered entering the club! Talking about entering the club, Claude Roussel, the managing director of Delta Sky Club said that “We’re not a WeWork”! Well I like to get some work done in the club before I fly – I guess Delta no longer cares about business travelers? Again, it is not like we are coming for the food and drink offerings.
The end of reliable first class upgrades. Before COVID, holding the Delta Amex Reserve card, my upgrade percentage was near 90% as a Diamond Medallion. Fat chance Diamonds can expect that again. I have been yelling for YEARS that every single move Delta has made and announced during their quarterly earnings calls have all been to motivate, not just the average non-elite Delta flyer, but even mid-tier and top elites to simply “buy up to first” and prevent loyal flyers to have a chance at an “free” elite upgrade. Clearly, it has worked well but yet another reason to make Diamond status so much less appealing than in the past.
Declining Delta experience. I do not know what has happened but in the past, every single Delta person I encountered would “Strive For Five” and this was true from gate agents to flight attendants to phone reps. In 2023, it seems many try to “Strive for ONE”? I mean from gate agents who do questionable things to flight attendants who hide and seem to no longer care about not providing world class service to phone agents who now only tell you there is nothing they can do to help (hello SNAP software – you want fries with that?) Where has the Delta difference gone?
The jump in MQDs to $20,000 for Diamond. Delta – you have got to be kidding me! Just take a peek at the “enhancements” above and below and tell me how it is worth in any rational way to spend MORE for so very much less? I mean there has to be something mentally wrong (maybe a medical condition) to raise the price to get so much less?
The “inconceivable” SkyMiles prices to fly Delta One. Now wait a minute, René – everything you have shared so far has been Diamond-specific. SkyMiles prices affect everyone equally. Currently, that is true but “back in the day” (yes I go that far back) elites could sometimes find low-level awards that were NOT presented to just anyone. Yes, that died a very long time ago but it is just one more way top elites are facing death by 1000 cuts. Now the only way you get a Skymiles “discount” is holding a Delta co-branded credit card NOT your top elite status as a reward for loyalty.
- OK now taking a step beyond the Diamond exclusive cuts I will touch on the other things that do have an impact on the weekly choice to pick Delta as my airline to purchase a ticket to work toward Diamond status. It is also a long list. Let’s dive in.
Horrid wine. I know not everyone enjoys a glass of wine in the air but if you fly Delta the wine in the air comes from a soda can. It is revolting. In the Sky Clubs it is out of bottles but disgusting unless you pay up big time.
Subpar food. The meals on Delta, in first class, used to be quite good. Now they are mostly a hard pass. I would bring a meal even when you paid over the top numbers for the ticket in cash or points for your flight.
What wifi? Delta has “enhanced” wifi so it is free? Yeah – right. Depending on the jet it may or may not be free. It may or may not be fast. It may or may not work at all. In the latest Medallion e-Mail PR blast they brag it will be on “most” jets by the end of 2024! What a joke.
SkyTeam awards. I think one of the most heinous and simply unforgivable actions “the mother ship” i.e. Delta Air Lines has done during the pandemic is the obliteration of any value of SkyMiles by redeeming them on partner awards. If you missed it they made two of these – unannounced as ALWAYS – during COVID. Yeah, thanks Delta for having our backs during the pandemic.
Lastly, the one thing that I think about every single time I board a Delta flight is the end of stopovers on award tickets. I mean, if Delta is going to have the unmitigated gall to charge nearly a million SkyMiles for some awards – they should at least allow you to spend a few days at the connection city for free before you make it to your final location. Nope – forget about it!
As a many-year Diamond Medallion I hope you consider what I have shared above if Delta is still worth your loyalty. Clearly, Delta does NOT care about us anymore. Why should you care about them? As a wise man one said, “loyalty is a two way street“. – René
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.