I like Delta Air Lines. Their planes are usually clean, their people tend to be polite and their customer-facing technology is pretty good too. But I really don’t like SkyMiles at all. You may have heard this week that Delta intends to eliminate fee-free award changes and mileage redeposits for Platinum flyers*. I’m not a Platinum Medallion with Delta so this really doesn’t impact me, but I can see why so many Delta travelers are seriously hacked off about this. The worst part of this decision was Delta’s reasoning behind the change. According to Delta, many award seats are departing empty because those pesky Platinums are booking them and not traveling because they can do so without penalty.
Have you ever tried to book an award seat on Delta? It is usually an exercise in futility which leads to profanity laced tirades. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get some odd-ball double connection routing even though plenty of seats are available on the nonstop or one-stop flights you want. Then miraculously, Delta’s revenue management folks open up award seats 2 or 3 weeks before your flight, but you’re stuck with your odd itinerary…..unless you are Platinum. I don’t blame them one bit for making extensive use of this benefit, and I can assure you I would too if I were lucky enough to be Platinum Medallion.
I appreciate certain aspects of the SkyMiles program, most notably, the complimentary space-available upgrades for Medallions. But overall, the program pales in comparison to American’s AAdvantage for award availability and overall usability. Unfortunately, I haven’t flown Delta enough this past year to maintain Medallion status, and the difficulty in getting real benefits beyond the upgrades has me seriously thinking about crediting my future flights to Alaska’s Mileage Plan. I’m going to miss being a Delta Medallion come March 1, but I surely won’t miss the frustrating searches for an award seat. I’ll be watching the SkyMiles program with interest as Delta moves forward with the Northwest merger.
* This decision has reportedly been modified to allow for two fee-free changes per year and $50 dollars per change thereafter.