Delta CEO Says the Airline “Probably Went Too Far.” What Changes Are Coming?

by Anthony Losanno
Delta Planes

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Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, made his first public statements since the airline rolled out its massive, negative changes to both Delta SkyMiles and Sky Club® admission policies recently. During an interview at the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Bastian said, “No question, we probably went too far. Our team wanted to kind of rip the band-aid off.”

Bastian noted that the airline is looking to rollback some of the changes. He went on to add: “we’re still assessing what we’ll do, but there will be modifications that we will make, and you’ll hear about it sometime over the next few weeks.” One of the most interesting things noted in the interview was that Delta could not keep up with the premium product demand. He also stated that the number of Diamond Medallions doubled during the pandemic. I’m not sure why this would be an issue as its causation is pretty obvious. Miles rolled over and status was extended throughout the pandemic. This swelled the ranks. There are no more extensions and rollover is now gone as well. The Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) were also raised from $15,000 to $20,000 this year (going up to $35,000 next year). The numbers will drop, but maybe not enough to properly offer all of the benefits promised.

What Changes Could Delta Roll Back?

  • Sky Club® access seems an easy one. Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Cardholders should get unlimited access and maybe Delta will change this back.
  • Holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express could also see their entry restored (or at least increased from only six visits per year).
  • It’s highly unlikely that Delta will go back to needing Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) and Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs). The one metric will likely remain.
  • It’s possible the increases will be tapered a bit especially at the entry-level Silver and highest-tier Diamond levels.

We’ll have to wait for Delta to announce what will change as all of the above is just my speculation.

Anthony’s Take: Delta went too far in these changes and it’s clearly seeing that it angered and disenfranchised almost all of the loyalists. We’ll see how many of the changes Delta reverses over the next few weeks. The Atlanta-based carrier is having its own New Coke moment and we’ll see what the impact of the public’s outcry will be.

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