Boy did Delta botch it on the 14th with the new 2025 SkyMiles / Medallion program roll-out. The last time Delta did something this massive they “embargoed” the legend Randy Petersen and two media outlets with the news before it went live (side note TPG was not included and they were really mad. I found out about the changes on the way the day before but the PR team would NOT include me and even tried to tell me I was wrong). By getting “ahead of the wave” with these outlets the result was the messaging on the topic had time to be really well considered and to try to balance the small bits of good with the mostly bad news.
I hear rumors that this time TPG was embargoed this time with the news (since TPG stickers are after all stuck on the sides of all Delta jets) but someone in Delta IT flipped a switch too early with the news on Pro.Delta.com and the blogs jumped all over the breaking news. The results were as expected reactionary and all the nasty bits went front and center (there were NO good bits so that was way too easy to highlight the disaster presented).
One of the reasons I think Delta did not include more in the prerelease info was, as just mentioned, there is simply NOTHING good about the news Delta dumped on everyone who chooses to fly Delta. There was no purpose in sharing because there was / is no way to spin any of this in any positive light for anyone (well other than the insanely rich who are dumb enough to put $350,000 on a Delta credit card that can get so much better value on other cards).
But there is the thing that I do not think Delta has really considered with these changes. So many of us have put up with a great deal of frustrations with Delta because “it is all worth it in the end because we are whatever-Medallions“. That is, “I get value so I put up with this or that“. That is not going to “fly” in 2025. Let me hit these one by one.
- Published Medallion perks. Delta is wanting to reward only those who spend a TON of money with Delta and their travel agent Delta vacations. OK then the Delta employees better “get with the program” and not let SHENA visit and upgrade an employee over a Medallion or fly with empty 1st class seats rather than go onboard and pull Medallions from coach who have boarded or even LIE to a passenger who paid $7500+ for a Delta One seat and try to downgrade them to coach!
- GUC and RUC space. One of the reasons I think so many elites now, beyond the insane new requirements published, don’t mind going “free agent” is using things like Choice Benefits Global Upgrade and Regional Upgrade certs can be so hard that they are not going to miss them. A published benefit should be usable. If in 2025 elites get the same indifference from Delta it will NOT be acceptable. If an elite wants to use a cert Delta needs to make space available if a single seat is open – period!
- Amex BOGO availability. Delta is putting a lot of faith in people sticking with their Delta Amex cards and continuing to spend on them. Right now almost every single Delta elite I talk to says they let their BOGO or “buy one get one free” certs go into the trash can because Delta makes it so hard to use them. That MUST change in 2025 and like the GUC and RUC they need to be able to used on any flight that has two open seats. Functionality with a published card perk must be able to be used or we have yet ONE MORE reason to dump Delta Amex cards.
- Trained Elite Phone Reps. During the pandemic so many of the best of the best Delta phone reps went away. Right now we put up with having to train reps on the rules (or HUCB) because we know that with effort we can usually get fixed what we need fixed. Putting up with poorly trained reps at the top elite levels will not be tolerated in 2025. At least Delta has time to address.
- Premium Select Experience. I was on the inaugural Delta flight that debuted the PS seat and experience. I could have booked the new “Delta One” with doors (one of my dear friends did) but I booked PS to see if it was as good as promised and on par with other airlines. It was VERY impressive. The seat was and is good and much like a domestic 1st class seat. The experience was great with attentive flight attendants and the food was the same as Delta One but just on one tray. Heck the Delta CEO called PS a “business class product”. Now the service is the same as coach and food is pathetic and nothing like the competition. Delta must fix the PS experience before 2025 hits if they want folks paying for this (before we would just put up with it to keep our status – no more – just book a better airline).
- Flight Attendants Hiding in the galley. Delta flight attendants used to be the best in the air. Now it is hit and miss. With Delta prices, most times, at a premium to other airlines they better work hard to show it is worth spending more for Delta. If I am a Diamond in Comfort Plus (same crummy coach seat with a tiny bit more leg room) then I had better get – not just good – but great treatment every single flight. After all, other airlines even provide free food to their top elites who miss an upgrade. Poor service could really make the 2025ers question sticking with Delta yet another year.
- PFB. Speaking of the Delta service levels PFB or preflight beverage service needs to be 100% spot on consistent in 2025. If I am paying a premium or have spent a fortune to score a, ah hem, “free” first class upgrade I better be treated as a premium passenger and that includes offering me a drink before we depart. Hit and miss PFB is not going to be OK in 2025
- Forced gate checked bags. This point maybe should have been on the top of my list as many times the first interaction you have with Delta is the gate agent. A Diamond or Platinum, no matter when they arrive at the gate, should NEVER EVER in 2025 be forced to gate check a bag if they do not want to – find space in the closet or somewhere onboard. Forced gate checks of carry-on size approved bags will not be tolerated in 2025.
Do notice I have not addressed the value of Delta SkyPennies and the utterly absurd cost to book say a Delta One flight to Europe or other places around the world. Those who are choosing to stick with Delta in 2025 as a regular loyal flyer have accepted the fact that a SkyPenny is a Penny and that is the fact of the matter. Sad but true.
I think I have made my point loud and clear. Delta premium passengers are going to expect an ultra premium experience and things that have been tolerated and put up with right now and over the past few years are simply not going to be acceptable anymore. Delta, the entire organization, is going to have make sure that what they are selling us is provided or the very best (that is highest paying – not the most loyal and frequent) customers will be the last ones walking out the door to other airlines! – René
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