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
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I can’t imagine wanting to spend a week doing mileage runs. As it is I try to make my trips as short as humanly possible. But I get your overall point. The value proposition isn’t what it once was
As a past Diamond for eight years I have decided to move into Platinum status and see how this works for me…
I have appreciated Diamond status and now it is time to move on… Sorry Delta …
@Jeff – Same. I jumped on the current Delta Amex Platinum offer for the 95,000 Skymiles and will spend 25k this year and next and fly as PM in 24 & 25 then just have my “free” million miler Silver until they take that way (just a guess but who knows).
This also is the same for me, and I wonder how many are also actually in this same situation.
Another thing — If I’ve been paying for 1st, is there any reason to keep spending 25k on a Delta card to retain platinum? I guess I could do that indefinitely, but often I get to feeling maybe platinum is not really even worth it…the silver “complementary” medallion status may soon be fine enough for me going forward and I’ll just end up on the airline that best fits my schedule.
@Daniel – Having some status, especially Platinum and up, does help when you really need help from Delta even if you have already booked 1st.
That’s an amazing point! I agree! I could probably manage to keep Platinum for a while.
So, spend 25 on their AmEx for the waiver — is the 15k MQM bonus worth it for an additional 5k in spend? When there was also a SkyMiles bonus at 30k, then the question would’ve been easier…
I couldn’t agree with you more. I have been a diamond for the past 7 years. I still have diamond status this year, but I haven’t stepped foot on a Delta aircraft once in 2023. After death by 1000 cuts, they’ve gone out of their way to let me know how much I don’t matter to them. They’ve tricked me into falling for the belief that my status would be rewarded, and I refuse to support a company that continues to screw me over almost consistently. I dread every email I receive from Delta because it’s always a sugar-coated way of letting me know that they’re taking something else that I’ve earned away from me. Goodbye Delta.
Bravo! I’m a 2MM and Diamond Medallion. The wine is undrinkable, the food is worse than pre-COVID (why try to make things fancy when the quality is awful) and I would rather sit in the terminal than be crowded in the Slob Clubs.
We fly to Europe (either Italy or Greece) yearly. I pay for my ticket and use points redemption for my wife’s Delta One ticket. Over the last 4 days, RT to Athens, Greece from almost every US origination in Sept-Oct time period has more than doubled to 750k. I even have flexibility to position myself and leave on different dates within about a month’s time period. How can a RT D1 flight to ATH(or partner business class flight booked via Delta) be 750k from LAX, SFO or SEA be the same as a RT flight ATH on the same dates from every origination in the midwest, southeast and northeast? 750k across the board for a 2 week trip? Ridiculous. No way I’m spending my hard earned miles for that.
Switched to AA OneWorld 4 years ago. AA operations was not as good at the time but quality of the OW alliance, better J service, and much better award pricing were the reasons to move. I had been Diamond and Royal Medallion since the late 80’s with 3.8MM miles. AA operations now at or better than Delta, Int lounges (Flagship, OW, and the new Chelsea at JFK) so much better than Sky Team. And by the way 90% plus UG’s with many clearing at the opening of the window.
The only way I justify it is by 1.) Earning status very efficiently on usually pe or sometimes j partner runs which get me to dm in less than $6k spend. This nets relatively many pesos which I 2.) Only use for dl domestic y. And 3.) I use gucs for vs and af j upgrades where product is usually very good still (even if vs has replaced haircuts with stupid peloton bikes at lhr clubhouse) 4.) If I ever fly skyteam in Y internationally, I’ll do it on klm where i book basic economy but still get free checked bags and extra legroom economy seats and lounge access.
Basically I don’t fly dl except domestic and only spend miles on those tickets. And I’m not in a dl hub.
There is still tremendous value in domestic award bookings especially now with the 15% Amex savings. Every DL flyer should get the DL Amex Platinum card. The $250 annual fee is fully offset by the companion cert plus now the 15% award ticket savings.
DM with $20,000 MQDs is now a push for most people but PM is such a low bar with everyone swimming in MQMs and $25,000 ($2,100 per month) relatively easy to meet. Having some priority in IROPS and quicker phone support is well worth it as are the 4 RUCs.
Years ago DL loyalty changed from the frequent business traveler to the Amex holder. We just need to accept it.
I moved to platinum last year. 2023 is first year of platinum after nearly 10 years ad Diamond. Probably won’t even pursue platinum for 2024. Not worth it. Switched to AA.
Why should they stop making cuts? They’ve mercilessly eviscerated the value of SkyMiles for years – and still seem to be the “premium” carrier professionals wants to fly. They continually hack at elite benefits – and elites still clamor to figure out how to hit the highest levels. I coach people on mileage programs and credit card plans, and the #1 goal I get in onboarding is “ I want to get to Delta Diamond”. I deal mainly with high income professionals, not mileage enthusiasts, and I’m sorry to tell you that no amount of abuse seems to break the fever. Yes they’re aware of the changes and don’t like them, but switch carriers? Not a chance.
It’s instructive that even in this rant of Delta’s war on elites, your solution is just to go to Platinum rather than consider another carrier. Having fewer Diamonds who still stay on the Delta hamster wheel is working as intended, you are not sending any kind of sign to Delta that they are doing anything wrong. In a captive hub and can’t consider anyone else? Exactly, that’s why they can do this. Although even NY/LA Delta elites will rarely consider another carrier.
As a business, if they can continue to provide fewer benefits while retaining loyalty, why would they stop cutting?
To sum up. 33% increase in spend (which is more like $6,000 and not $5,000 extra because of the difference between MQD and fares) versus devaluations of Diamond status:
* PE upgrade instead of business — 4 x (conservative) $2,500 difference
* Slower boarding
So, paying $6,000 more for receiving over $10,000 less in value plus general service degradation
* Absurd D1 mileage prices and increased MC prices
* Crappy performance
* Crappy wifi on half the fleet
* Crappy Sky Club experiences (particularly JFK and DTW and often ATL)
It’s no longer a question of going for Diamond, it’s a question of continuing to do business with Delta.
@David Birnbaum – You sum things up very clearly IMO. Thank you.
I never really understood all the Delta bashing until just recently. DD for several years now and club food is horrid, flight meals are horrid, and to boot, planes are dirty and I feel unloved by Delta. LAX to JFK or Newark. What would you all offer as a better choice? I am listening?
Moved over to AA last year. Here’s what I’ve learned. As EP, upgrades clear about 95% of the time, most of the time at the beginning of the window. Wifi is almost always faster. Lounges are never as packed as Delta. Able to get Main Cabin extra when booking tickets close to the day of departure. Never a problem to get the whole family preferred seats. Just requalified for another year of EP.
With Delta, lost 4 [Amex card] companion certificates because space has not been open. Lost 3 upgrade certificates last year because they didn’t clear, even when booked months in advance. Had the “privilege” of sitting in the back of the plane on tickets booked 21+ days in advance because comfort and preferred seats are gone. Batting zero percent on upgrades clearing. Skyclub is now a joke. Same-day ticket changes are impossible. Using miles at the last minute for flights is painful. They have become the new Southwest of flying!
I find the Diamond status nearly valueless. I buy FC because I can’t stand coach. The food usually sucks, and the service is usually bad or worse. The boarding process is confusing and annoying, the baggage handling has gone to hell, as has the recovery from things like bag delays or damage.
Sadly, with well over 250k in reserve card spend, and 500k+ rolled over qualifying miles, I’m basically a lifetime Diamond whether I fly or not.
The result of this is that I fly AA interchangeably with Delta, with more than 50% of my spend going to AA these days. As a low-status flyer on AA I get essentially the same treatment as with Diamond on Delta. So why bother?
And I forgot to mention that as a Detroit flyer, my AA business class vacation flights with the family are generally 1/2 the price of Delta.
@Mike – I would consider only putting 25k on Delta Amex cards for Platinum and put the rest of that mega spend on much better cards like Freedom Unlimited (paired with Chase Sapphire Reserve® for redemptions)!
I fly paid first a lot and I have noticed on more than just a few flights that the FA hide in the galley to avoid pre dep service. In one Las Vegas to Detroit floght our service was limited to dinner. To pre flight. No asking if I wanted a coke at cruising alt. Just handed dinner. I had to ask for a soda. Then it came. This is happening a lot. I’m Diamond and I’m ready to go to United
I’m very interested in AA feedback from the reply’s. In the past, it was a case of no alternative to Delta. If AA is going to regularly upgrade to first, be less crowded in lounges, and really seem to try to get operations on time, it may be time to change.
Good luck switching if you are a DL hub captive (DTW/ATL/SLC). No amount of AA bells and whistles are worth connecting.
@Frankie – I would disagree. Also being a top elite with another airline makes upgrades even MORE simple to get.
I agree 1000%. I have been Diamond pretty much since the inaugural year and have also decided I am done with it. In fact, sadly, I have now taken several flights on UA instead finding I could buy business/first class for about what I was paying for Coach on Delta. They are squeezing the wrong people and not only leaving those of us who are immensely loyal (3m miles) but leaving us angry at them.
I hope they see the light and change things but I am not holding my breath.
I guess I’m the reason you don’t get upgrades. I only fly a few times a year for vacation and it’s always first class, so I am taking away chances from your upgrade. I will agree with you that the food selection is garbage and overall, it really doesn’t feel like a 1st class product. I sit in first class mainly bc I’m 6’5, 215lbs. The thing is, when you are paying a grand plus for 1st class and the food sucks, it really does take away from the experience. However, if I bought an economy ticket and was upgraded to 1st class– I probably wouldn’t complain about the food, bc I was freerolling by getting the upgrade, and the bigger seat really is the important bit of the upgrade. (At least for me.)
You would think that if Delta was able to sell more 1st class seats, thus fewer upgrades, then they could afford to spend a few extra dollars improving the quality of food/drink on the flight. Because those people in first were paying extra for 1st class. I’m not joking when I prefer the snack boxes they handed out during Covid over the meals they offer today.
Maybe Delta can tweak their food and beverage offerings on routes where 1st class is predominantly filled with full price paying customers, vs those routes where 50% or more of customers are sitting in 1st class because of upgrades. When you are a paying customer, you expect more value for your money.
In a perfect world, they would up their F&B game to help encourage more 1st class purchases, but I fully understand why many Delta passengers with status prefer to buy economy, bc paying for 1st class isn’t worth it for most people. I am an exception for Delta as I’m a tall dude who finds economy very uncomfortable. If I was 5’11, I’d be in economy.
What happened to my paragraphs when I hit post? That’s one large paragraph. Sorry– and I don’t know how to edit it.
For whatever it’s work, your post shows as paragraphs to me.
Also, wholly agree with your comment.
“Maybe Delta can tweak their food and beverage offerings on routes where 1st class is predominantly filled with full price paying customers”. You must be hallucinating to think that the leadership at Delta would be willing to spend any money improving their F&B. The reason is because the leadership is incentivized by maximizing short term profits, not customer experience. They couldn’t care less about losing loyal customers because they are not thinking long term, they are only interested in short term profits that will boost the stock price and their annual bonuses. If their bonuses were somehow tied to customer satisfaction they would care more, but alas it isn’t.
I will be going for DM again for 2024. I earn my status using the personal Amex Delta Reserve card to pay monthly bills and the business Amex Delta Reserve card to pay quarterly taxes. I max each out at $125K per year to meet the $250K spend and earn 120K MQMs and 250K SkyMiles in the process. The 250K SkyMiles (or less) buys me 2 Premium Select tickets to somewhere in Europe (last month we did Scotland for 90K per ticket). I then upgrade to Delta One with my GUCs. For me personally, this makes it worthwhile. Additionally, with so many Diamonds leaving the ranks, I believe there will be more value for those of us who remain (i.e. More upgrades).
Have you run the numbers on what you’re giving up by using the DL Reserve cards vs almost any other card? Even an AMEX Blue Biz would give you 2x AMEX MRs per dollar (on up to $50K/year), which you could then transfer to DL 1:1 for your SM tickets. Get 2 BB cards, spend $50K on each, and you’d have 200K MRs that you could transfer to Delta or a bunch of other airlines, and you’d have another $150K to spend to earn even more rewards. With $250K in spend on 5 AMEX BB cards you could earn 500K AMEX MRs to transfer to Delta if you wanted, and you’d have the flexibility to transfer them elsewhere if award tickets were better through AF/KLM, AM, etc. Spread that spend across a couple of Chase, Citi, or Cap1 cards vice all AMEX cards and you expand your universe of options dramatically.
Rene – what is your plan as you have been giving great advice. I lost so many Regional Upgrades this year and was livid.
@Kari – I am for now just going to charge 25k on my new Delta Amex Platinum business card for PM waver and burn up my MQMs for the next few years. Beyond that be a free agent more and book other airlines in 1st / business on points or cash.
I lost all my 2022 upgrade certificates because I didn’t realize the rule was changed. Sooooo pissed.
Very well said! I just warned MM and have been diamond five years in the running. They’ve been on a steady decline for a while and my unacceptable experience the past two times are symptomatic of this. I’m out.
Do you guys think that the 15% discount on award tickets will help the value of Skymiles enough to make a difference? I’m a Platinum member, and hold Delta Platinum and business Delta Reserve cards. Last year I was able to snatch a RT LAS – FRA for my husband and me for 300K miles, all D1 segments, directly from a Delta marketing email. These tickets sold out in just over 45 minutes or so. I haven’t seen deals like this since. I also was able to upgrade to 1st from coach in 7 out of the 8 additional segments we flew. I certainly don’t fly a lot, so maybe I just got lucky.
@Mel – I think if used for really good sale prices and deals it can help a bit. For example Delta had some killer prices on award tickets to Alaska recently and I shared them here!
@René – I just found D1 LAS-FRA end of March RT for 153K miles including the discounts. I emailed the screenshot to Chris, in case you want to share with your readers. This is the same trip I mentioned above.
As a current Diamond Medallion, I agree with your overall perspective. For the past 20+ years of my life I’ve either been a Platinum or a Diamond Medallion. In the past 5 years, a Diamond Medallion + a Million Miler (nearly halfway to a 2 Million Miler).
I’m not the Fortune 500 or corporate business traveler. My status has always been 85% achieved through personal travel and personal dollars. The very first time I acheived Diamond Status, I felt really special and excited about the perks.
But now the program has lost its luster, allure and exclusivity.
1. Sky Clubs: Waiting in line outside the Delta Sky Club at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport (my home airport) is a pain and seems to get worse each time I travel. Plus, that club needs a remodel, as does the club on the C Concourse. The Detroit clubs need remodels too. They are outdated.
2. Upgrades: I rarely get upgraded on my flights. I had assumed it was because there were Delta 360 Members above me. After reading this, I’m guessing its just because they are selling the seats instead.
3. All of Delta’s customer facing departments need major improvements. With the exception of a few longer-term employees; these new employees which Delta is hiring in bulk (flight attendants, customer service phone line agents, gate agents) are entitled, rude, lack any knowledge or care about customers with Delta status – whether it be Silver Medallion to Delta 360. Delta lost the more seasoned long-term employees during COVID (forced into early retirement or took it by choice); and over-hired a new crop of employees who believe they are the customers, not the service providers.
Here is how I would rate them:
Flight Attendants: D
Gate Agents: C
Diamond Medallion Line: B-
Sky Club Employees: A- (these are the best employees at the entire airline)
I too will not be seeking to keep my Diamond Status moving forward for the 2024 flying year. The cost/benefit ratio has moved in the wrong direction.
Spot on comments.
Excellently written. 99% agree. (I would’ve failed the FA’s — you were too kind.)
This is all true as true can be. I gave up trying for Diamond a while ago. The benefits are not worth the effort. I’ll stick with my Platinum status and be happy for select comfort when I get it.
I’ve been loyal to Delta for decades, but lately I have come to the same conclusion that Renee and others have – the cost/benefit ratio was increased so much, so fast, as to make it not worth pursuing beyond PM. Maybe not even that, although with my banked MQMs, it won’t be hard.
There’s essentially nothing of value that’s been added to the DM ecosystem in the last few years and especially in the last few months. On the other hand, the cost and difficulty of achieving DM has increased significantly.
I’m in Seattle. I’d appreciate informed opinions on whether I would be better starting a status match with United or American. It wasn’t clear to me that United matches DM, does anyone know? Now’s a good time of the year to make the change.
My 11 years as DM maybe coming to an end with the $20,000..spend. I waited till Jan 30th to pick my choice benefits and together we lost 10 upgrade certs ===2 days later.. Thanks DELTA for the email,snail mail or??? about this horrid change =NOT.. Communication is not one of Delta’s high points…..and getting worse and worse.
Delta downgraded the Upgrade Certificates in November 2021. But, yes, the late-in-the-year announcements aren’t pleasant.
@dee – If you reach out to Delta they “may” allow you another choice.
Rene , in your experience, what is the best way to reach out to Delta on an issue like this – use the web based comments/complaints or the Diamond Line or …? Feel free to respond directly if that is better. Thank you.
@Duane – Yes start there and explain expecting old rules and please give another choice.
They offered me 20k miles or a $200 voucher.
I did the same thing. Made my pick Jan 31 and certificates expired 12 hours later. I called Delta and (at my 3rd agent) She was fantastic. She took the time to call SkyMiles and reversed my pick to 20,000 miles. She was so nice. The previous two agents said it could not be done.
I used the miles to grab a 24,000 mile ticket Salt Lake to Cancun and used a regional certificate upgrade to first. A knowledgeable agent can do wonders.
I have been loyal to delta for years and am at near 880;000 toward my million miler. I am currently a Platinum and agree with everything you noted in your article. SkyPesos have been worthless for years, but somehow managed to become even less valuable. I am frequently 20 of 47 on the upgrade list for one first class seat. Experience is overpriced, but somehow still be best for an American carrier.
Bravo. I doubt this will have any impact on Delta as all they care about is the bottom line and the customers are way back down the line. I used to do mileage runs. One of the perks I got was the fact that I could work the system to my advantage and get benefits from spend a little money and getting great benefits. That has long since passed. If Delta weren’t so dominant out of DTW I would be looking elsewhere to spend my flying $. More and more, Im looking at alternative carriers. Well written and to the point. Thanks again Rene for keeping your integrity and honestly ahead of everything else.
@Jerry – Thank you so much.
I also appreciate the kick in the pants from Rene on this subject. I’m sure his opinion won’t endear him to the marketing folks at Delta, and I’ll bet some of them pay attention to this blog.
I’d been ruminating on just how long I would stay on this crazy ride and you gave me the facts and data to inform a decision to stop the madness. Now I will reach out to my friends and work associates and educate them and courage them to do the same.
@DDDuane – I have for so long wondered what it would take for Delta to ever change from #KeepDescending to a more positive note. Maybe, just maybe, we have reached this point but I have very little hopes. I think with soon “Mr. Ham Sandwich” about to become CEO it will take another round of bankruptcy and total destruction of share holder value before anything real changes.
Considering the tier status a person achieves from *planned* travel, what incremental value would that person obtain from some higher tier status? Now, what additional expense would that person incur to attain that higher tier status? The answer is different for each person. I fly purely on points and not cash. So, points earn rate is irrelevant. And, given that, I don’t see any meaningful benefit that tier status provides that a premium cabin ticket does not provide.
I know this site is heavily focused on mileage runs and getting a lot of benefits from status while spending as little as possible to earn it – the fact is, the way the program has evolved, it is not really for you. Delta Diamond (or Platinum or whatever – one of my pet peeves is when people say “status” but really only mean a particular level of status) is very useful if you are flying a lot of domestic routes, paid for by cash (either by yourself or by an employer) and need premium seats, upgrade changes, higher earnings, the ability to use certificates, etc. I am a recent Delta Diamond and have been enjoying the extra status. I will likely earn it again in 2023 – not through mileage runs, but through regular flying and maybe some credit card spend.
Interesting. I’ve never been Diamond (although I was Platinum 20 years ago as a road warrior when it was the highest level, gave you club access, and you could maybe get a beer and some crackers at a club). As we mostly do leisure travel these days, I made Platinum in 2020 thanks to Reserve card and the extra MQMs (and some unfortunate multiple trips to FL when my dad died that year). Now I enjoy being Plat despite limited upgrades out of ATL. C+ at booking, SkyClub access through the credit cards for me and the wife (never have to wait – I guess we fly at off-peak times), plenty of direct flights anywhere and no dealing with the scrum that is Southwest or an ULCC like Spirit/Frontier. Now with the 15% discount on miles bookings, it’s become a real option again for domestic routes. I guess my expectations of Delta and SkyMiles is as a good domestic carrier for my hub-captive ATL location. I always just use transferrable points for international business class saver awards so don’t really care about the dumb international award pricing. Let others waste their miles on those.
Maybe the silver lining for those that are still going for DM is how many fewer DMs there are going to be in 2024.
I’m DM this year and not planning on the $20k spend to get DM for next year. What I am pondering is doing something in early 2024 to get the $20k in spend to get DM for the balance of 2024 and all of 2025. This year I’m stepping out on Delta with United in Polaris from ORD:BRU and Qatar in QSuites ATH:DOH:ATL. Being in Atlanta it’s going to require more positioning flights to continue to dabble with other carriers, but given the crazy miles required to fly DL from ATL I’ve already been positioning for those flights as well.
For the record, I applied 12 GUCs last year to MC transatlantic tickets and every single one cleared to Delta One. Every single one. You don’t have to buy PE (route dependent of course).
This isn’t an early April Fools Day comment, is it? 😉
No. COVID extensions. 4 per year. They were all expiring January 31, 2023. Usually cleared at 24 hours, a couple at the gate.
No, I know. I was kidding.
So far I have had a 50% success rate with getting D1 from MC (with 4 coupons). I guess that’s better than 0%.
How do you get 12 GUCs? Must be dancing with Big E at the holiday party.
@Meat Loaf – That is why Chris, I think, mentioned “April Fools Joke” in his comment. The only way to have 12 (since you can only pick 4 per year) would have been really good timing of picking many years of GU cert redemption as well as COVID extensions. Either that or many players in the family are Diamonds and had many who could pick GU as the perk as that would also work.
I had 12 last year – and I used them all (including 2 for domestic flights – very frustrating) and they would not extend them, claiming that they had already extended them because of COVID – the reality was that 4 of them expired a year earlier than they would have done and the COVID extensions didn’t help me at all since all 12 of them were used within the original expiration dates (4 before January 31st 2022, the rest before January 31st 2023).
To be fair, I did, on a couple of occasions (once this year and once last year) get Delta One under the new rules from coach, but it’s really not a fair system, where some people, with the same coupon, get Premium Select and some get Delta One, and I agree that Premium Select is a poor runner up to Delta One.
@Barry – Congrats and very well done! Most impressed.
“…what Rene (he) said!”
I completely agree, Rene. I came to this conclusion when I saw the new $20,000 threshold. I am a 4 Million Miler, Charter Diamond member.
Most importantly for me is the The massive increase in point requirements for Delta/Partner Business Class reward tickets……….which is just plan insulting.
I have been Diamond on Delta for a few years now, and enjoyed it. Especially because when I first become Diamond Boston was not a Delta Hub and getting upgrades was easier. (Not anymore: I am a 1MM and Diamond and I am often 5th or above in the list for upgrades.) I do agree that the extra hoops we have to go through to keep the status this year are not worth it. To the list of “enhancements” (NOT) that you listed, I can add that in Delta Hubs like Boston, boarding is no longer “First, Diamond and 360” before all others. It is “First and 360.” There are too many Diamonds, a gate rep told me. I am looking whether United or AA would match my Delta status and start exploring flying with them.
One thing you haven’t mention is the huge downgrade of the Choice Rewards. Everything rotates around Delta. The eliminated the Tiffany Gift card a couple years ago (which was the only class item) and have replaced to with 4000 Starbucks stars!!! Are you kidding me???
I agree. 2 million miler, diamond charter member, will go down to platinum next year, and we’ll see thereafter.
I have been Diamond for 5 years now and just hit 1MM miles last year. I requalified for Diamond last year and have switched to AA. Overall I have been happy with the decision. Delta just hit rock bottom for me. In addition to only receiving 3 upgrades last year, the constant devaluation of SkyMiles was it for me. Flew round trip to Italy last year in D1 for 210,000 miles per person (family of 4). I looked to go back to Europe this summer and D1 was 750,000 miles no matter the dates or even the cities I was trying to get to (anywhere in Europe). I also agree with the comments on customer service, I have had to call many times in order to get Delta to stick to stated rules. It is sad when I know the rules better than the agent on the Diamond Medallion line. I will use the rest of my miles for domestic Y and be done with Delta.
Well said. I am a 2MM and have been Diamond since creation. Only hope is that Delta will reconsider if it sees people leaving…but for that they need to feel the pain. If they do not feel the pain, it will only continue…
I have been stuck in Platinum limbo for a number of years, I just can’t cross the line into Diamond. While I pretty much agree with everything here, the only comment I would make is the new Delta lounge in the new LGA Terminal C is pretty impressive, in ambience, food and comfort. However, pretty crowded like most of the others.
@Pauldz – If you want to push for Diamond a cheap business class run really is the way to go. The Point.Me folks are amazing at finding deals.
Seems there are many loyal Delta customers who are completely disenchanted with Delta. I’m one. Charter DM, 2MM and I have been going out of my way to fly on non-Delta flights. Virtually every trip I have taken on Delta (almost all overseas) in the last 6 month to a year has required me phoning the Diamond line because they made a change to something or I wanted a simple thing done. I spent 3 1/2 hours on the phone with them this morning for simple things. I’m done too.
Would love to get people’s tips and tricks for switching to other airlines. Worth a whole article. I spent $50k on Delta tickets last year. And they won’t even allow me in the lounge if I go economy!! Delta gets a D- grade on the way to a solid F.
Somehow I just found this site after years of doing my own thing for mileage runs and CC spends to achieve Diamond status each year.
I recently flew United coast to coast because of travel time and connections being dramatically better and found a better plane and in some ways a better check in and app experience.
I live in a SkyWest hub where I have DL, AA, and UA connections and would love to see some details on attaining AA elite status.
I just commented to my wife after my recent trip that the food, crowds and strange group of travelers in the lounges has changed, even the centurion lounge food was bad, and that was after waiting at the bottom of an escalator for 20 min just to get in.
There is another devaluatiion that hasn’t received much publicity, which is that now, very often, global upgrades need to be used to guarantee upgrades on routes where Regional Upgrades can also be used and should also be available. For example, I’ve found it hard to use regional upgrades for coast to coast, yet space is available for global upgrades. It seems that they have taken away space for regional upgrades and allocated them to be available global upgrades, meaning that regional upgrades have to be waitlisted even though global upgrades can be used. This was actually mentioned as a new “benefit” when they announced the changes to global upgrades last year.
1. As a DDMM, at “ silver “ for life level,
What exactly does that mean please?
2. I earned in seat diamond during 22 for this year-
2023 does that mean NOW I must use
My RUCs and GUCs by the end of this year
And they no longer carry over to the next year???
I’m thinking about trying outJet Blue once again, or loyalty to VS
( I won’t fly United or American)
Thank you Rene and all
@Nina – 1) See Delta MM status on Delta.com
2) New rule is must spend and fly by the end of the medallion year earned.
3) I never fly Jet Blue so can’t help. If you are staying Skyteam just stick with Delta.