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Delta tried to change its rewards program. It backfired

Delta tried simplifying membership, but its CEO admitted those changes went "too far" and "too fast."
Delta tried to change its rewards program. It backfired
Posted at 9:54 AM, Sep 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 11:54:43-04

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on Monday that the airline went "too far" in announcing changes for its loyalty rewards program, which were meant to simplify how customers could gain status. 

Earlier this month, the airline announced that SkyMiles Members would no longer be able to gain Medallion Qualification Miles, and instead would gain status through Medallion Qualifying Dollars. 

The changes are scheduled to take effect in 2025, but Bastian said Delta would modify the plan based on customer feedback. 

Also as part of the changes were ones designed to limit when American Express cardholders could access SkyClubs. Starting in 2024, those under Delta SkyMiles Platinum and the Platinum Business American Express Card will no longer have automatic access to Delta Sky Clubs.

Also, Delta was reducing the number of visits passengers with Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express Card Members can make at SkyClubs unless they spend $75,000 a year on their card. 

The changes came after customers have complained on online forums about clubs becoming overcrowded.

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"No question we probably went too far in doing that," Bastian said at the Rotary Club of Atlanta. "Our team wanted to kind of rip the Band-Aid off and didn't want to have to keep going through this every year with changes in nickel-and-diming and whatnot, so then I think we moved too fast and so we're looking at it now. I'm not going to preview any of the changes that we might make but we will be making modifications and changes because it really matters to us; we care about the feedback."

Bastian noted that the number of passengers as part of its highest loyalty level Diamond have doubled in recent years. 


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