DELTA vs. DELTA

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Delta changes the rules of the game for me and you.

Delta, Delta, Delta why must you do what you do. Delta has been leading the airline world to the promise land of profits. The airlines have long been an industry rife with labor union strikes, bankruptcies, victims of national crisis like 9/11 and unstable oil prices. I like to travel and have become addicted to the deal. Cheap flights, lots of miles and some really cool perks. We (Angie and I) chose Delta after flying Continental and United through their merger a few years ago. We had come up a few thousand miles short of making status and decided to try Delta.


Delta makes changes on it's 2014 frequent flier program. 




Much to our surprise there is a “Delta Difference” Richard Anderson’s (Delta CEO) favorite tag line. We found their fleet cleaner, newer, better selection of food and beverages, more on time with less mechanical break downs and overall better, nicer personnel than US Airways and United. Delta has been working hard upgrading their planes, Skyclubs, terminals and frequent flier programs. Not all in my favor but I guess that is fair as we take it step by step.

In 2012 I barely made Silver Medallion, I just wanted free bags when I fly and an occasional upgrade. I needed 6000 miles and a trip to Paris would get me there. I compared Delta.com to Travelocity.com same flights same prices but I wanted to stay near the Louvre. Delta Vacations hotel package was not as good as Travelocity. I went with Travelocity. Much to my dismay Delta kind of screwed me. I booked trip in September for November. In August Delta changed the rules on Status Miles and “Consolidator Fares” giving me only ¼ of the miles I was expecting. I did not find out until I returned and checked my account, called Delta, wrote letters and was only able to get 1 free skyclub pass for one day and was still 4000 miles short. Not happy but determined I started reading and reading frequent flyer boards. Flyertalk.com is where I met Rene from Delta Points. He helped teach me through his blog the ins and outs of being a real frequent flyer. I learned about “Mileage Runs”, credit card loyalty programs, other bloggers, and so much more. I found search tools like kayak.com/explore, matrix.itasoftware.com and farecompare.com. Armed with a little bit of knowledge and a self proclaimed world traveler I set out on a mission to get my status and get my perks along the way. My lofty goal was Gold Medallion, 50000 miles in one year.


In 2013 I got a little crazy and a bit carried away. I was able to fly 113,000 miles for around $5000. With some rollover miles and some that I bought, I made Diamond Medallion. Did I game the system? Maybe... I did everything by the rules and Delta made money in turn I saw the world. I did it the hard way my butt in a seat for 8 to 14 hours at a time in coach and eventually economy comfort for free and my fair share of first class domestic upgrades as time went on; others are able to do it a little easier with a mix of flying and spending on Delta Amex credit cards.


In 2014 Delta changed all the rules. My beloved airline has pretty much shut down the guys like me. Guys that can’t get the Amex Card, Mileage runners who fly long distances for miles and status sometimes never leaving the airport for two or three days just flying here to there and back over and over, fliers that don’t spend a lot to go places and don’t go that often if they do.


Delta listened to the Big Business fliers. Real Diamond and Platinum fliers, that wanted WiFi, more upgrades, less Medallions competing for seats, less people and children in skyclubs, newer planes, new terminals, better rewards for making Diamond and Platinum. Well they got it and not everyone is real happy about it. Delta first added a new hurdle that you have to spend 10 cents a mile on Delta (not its partners) to make status. Meaning you would need to spend $2500 for Silver, $5000 Gold, $7500 Platinum and $12,500 for Diamond, on top of the current Mileage / Segment requirement.


If that was not enough Delta just announced that membership to Skyclub cost has doubled from $350 to $700 and that you could no long bring a guest after this year unless you pay more. As well as replacing all of the self serve bars with bartenders, getting rid of free top shelf liquors and beers. But they are adding new food options instead of just snacks.


They also took some of the fun out of “Mileage Runs” changing the reward miles from actual miles flown to points based on price of the ticket multiplied by your status. After this year a flight that cost $600 round trip from Chicago to Istanbul will no longer yield a Gold member 25,000 miles or a free round trip ticket anywhere in the US. They will be rewarded with 8 points times 600 or 4800 points 1/5 what is needed for that same free ticket. For business fliers who generally don’t shop price, pay for first class it is just the opposite. A first class ticket to Paris for a Diamond Medallion could be $8000 round trip from Cincinnati. They would receive 37,000 miles the old way but now would get 75,000 points the new way.


The good news is that I have one year to enjoy my Diamond Status, I can bank lots of miles to spend later and since miles/point will be harder to get the inflation should hopefully stop and preserver the value of the miles I do have. The other good news is that the new upgrade certificates that you get for global upgrades are good on almost any fares. Not just the really expensive ones. I am flying to Paris first class. A $5000 upgrade for two on the new lie flat business class seat. Overall a value of $20000 or more in upgrades that we never had access to before.


If I had the Delta Amex card or Delta used anyone but Amex I could still run with the big dogs. I have the US Airways and American Airlines credit card and have to consider if I will leave my beloved Delta at the end of this year and take my status to American Airlines. Only time will tell. Stay tuned to our little blog for more changes and how to play the travel game.