CEO: Delta 'Went Too Far' With SkyMiles Changes

Airline to announce 'modifications' to appease frequent flyers in the coming weeks
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2023 9:03 AM CDT
CEO: Delta 'Went Too Far' With SkyMiles Changes
A man waits for a Delta Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on Jan. 7, 2022.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Delta Air Lines will make changes to address backlash to an overhaul of its frequent-flyer SkyMiles program, CEO Ed Bastian said Monday. On Sept, 13, the airline announced customers would now earn frequent-flyer status based on the amount of money spent with the airline, rather than on the number of miles flown, per the AP. It also said it would block Sky Club access for customers with a basic economy ticket and limit access for American Express cardholders. The changes were met with "mostly negative feedback in online travel forums, social media and communications with the company," per the Wall Street Journal, prompting rival airlines to try to woo Delta's frequent flyers with offers to match their status. Though Delta previously said it was listening to feedback, Bastian admitted the airline went "too far" and "too fast."

He said the number of travelers with top-tier Diamond Medallion status had almost doubled since the start of the pandemic, resulting in increased demand for premium seats, Sky Club access, and dedicated customer-service help. Customers had complained about crowded Sky Clubs and fewer upgrades, per the Journal. There were also reports of long lines to access Sky Clubs, per CNBC. The demand is "far in excess of our ability to serve it effectively," Bastian said at an event in Atlanta. "We need to make certain that we can serve our higher tiers with the level of premium experience that you deserve and that you expect." But "no question, we probably went too far in doing that," he added. "I think we moved too fast." He said Delta continues to assess "modifications," which should be announced "over the next few weeks," per CNN. (More Delta Air Lines stories.)

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