Delta is Returning to the Gate to Tweak Unpopular Changes in its Frequent-flyer Program

September 28, 2023

Delta Air Lines is rethinking changes it already announced to its loyalty program, with the airline’s CEO saying it went too far trying to address a surge in the ranks of elite frequent flyers.

Delta said two weeks ago that starting in early 2025 it would base elite status purely on spending, instead of also counting flights, and limit airport club access for holders of Delta credit cards.

“No question we probably went too far in doing that,” CEO Ed Bastian told the Atlanta Rotary Club. “I think we moved too fast, and we are looking at it now.”

Bastian promised “modifications” that the airline will announce “sometime over the next few weeks.” He didn’t give details.

Bastian made the comments Monday, and a recording was released Wednesday.

The changes were roundly criticized on social media, with some Delta frequent flyers vowing to take their business elsewhere. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways jumped in, pitching offers to woo unhappy Delta customers by matching their loyalty status in those carriers’ programs.

“We have received a lot of feedback,” Bastian acknowledged. After the CEO said Delta would reconsider some of the changes, the Rotary crowd burst into applause.

The number of Delta customers with top-tier Diamond status has doubled since the pandemic began, Bastian said. That has led to a crush of demand for premium seats, upgrades, and access to its airport Sky Clubs and complaints that the clubs have gotten too crowded.

Bastian said the Atlanta-based airline needs to be sure it can provide top-tier frequent flyers with the service they expect.



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