Delta Airlines Skymiles: New Sky Priority Program Leaves Silver Medallion Members in the Dust
With much fanfare and hoopla, Delta Airlines Skymiles program unveiled Sky Priority which “upgraded” its suite of services to the Delta frequent flier program and its Medallion members.
Or did it?
Delta Airlines Skymiles: Is the Sky Priority Program an upgrade to Delta’s Frequent Flier Program?
If you are a Silver Medallion member with Delta’s frequent flier program, you’ve actually lost quite a bit. While I don’t know what the percentage of Delta Airlines Medallion members are split between Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond, I would imagine that this is effecting tens if not hundreds of thousands of fliers and travelers. And while Delta’s top tiers of Medallion fliers did gain, the bottom tier of its supposed “valued” customers lost out.
“Silvers are not losing anything.” That’s the statement from Delta airlines. But on further checking, we found this not to be the case. Last weekend, we flew MSO/SLC/LAX and found that things had changed quite a bit. First, Silver Medallion members no longer enjoy access to the Medallion check in line which is now called Sky Priority. On the sign, Silver Elite was noticeably absent. For me, this is one of the biggest reasons for having elite status – not having to wait in the often amazingly long check-in lines at coach check-in because I rarely if ever fly business or first (I’m 5′-8″ and in any event prefer to spend that extra money on a second ticket).
As I often travel with fragile professional video and photographic equipment in my carry-on, its critical that I secure overhead space in the ever increasingly over packed over head bins. At the gate, I noticed that Silver Elite was noticeably absent from the Sky Priority Breezeway sign. Once the agent began to board the plane, I found myself called to board in my normal zone 2 position which is the same as it was in the past. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a change here until you realize that all the other elite levels that used to board in zone 2 are now boarded in zone 1. Again is seems that Silver Medallion status has been left in the dust.
Again, from Delta: “For check-in, signage will be clearly marked for Silver Medallions—in hub cities, they will have dedicated Silver Medallion check-in; in non-hub cities check-in signage for Sky Priority lists Silver Medallion members. For the boarding process, zone 1 will be dedicated to Sky Priority customers and zone 2 will be used for Silver Medallion members. Zones 3 and 4 will continue to be used for general boarding.”
On our recent trip, we found none of this. There was no check in signage for Silver Medallion members in SLC or LAX and Silver Medallion members were excluded from all the Sky Priority signage we saw in all cities, including non-hub cities. As mentioned before, Silver Medallion members still board in zone 2 but all other Medallion levels now board before.
Even More Bad News for Many Delta Airlines Frequent Fliers
Another strategy used by not only Delta but United/Continental and American is the expansion of their frequent flier programs from 3 classes to 4. Why do this? Because It allows the airlines to further distance their top end, highest paying and revenue generating fliers from their other elites. And while there is nothing wrong with that strategy, Delta and United/Continental have clearly used it to further discount their lowest level frequent flier class. Earlier this year, Delta Airlines reduced the number of free checked bags for its Silver Medallion members from two to one, yet Delta continues to claim that they have not reduced service. Clearly, Gold Medallion frequent flier status with Delta is the new Silver Medallion.
What’s the bottom line for Delta Airlines Frequent Flier program and Delta Airlines Skymiles?
So what’s the message? Delta continues to not come through on its claims for Silver Medallion members and and continues to claim that the lower levels of Medallion status have not been devalued but several significant benefits have been lost. Even so, the message that Silver Medallion is now a removed, second class citizen to all the other Medallion levels is implied if not clear. And that’s just bad business 101 – You don’t take customers that you say are valued and then demote them which is exactly what Delta has done.
On the heels of Delta’s massive frequent flier mileage devaluation and its airline industry leading stinginess on award seat availability, its just one more thing that makes Delta’s frequent flier program less and less appealing. The fact that Delta’s Skymiles are today frequently referred to as Skypesos by industry insiders is no joking matter for hundreds of thousands of fliers.