Delta: “End of Free Ride – We Want Customers to Use Miles Not for Free Travel, but to Control Their Experience”

by Adam

In a very interesting article by Bloomberg, Delta confirms and then says more blatantly what they sadly shared in December, miles should be used to “discount” flights, not give you a free ride. As far as upgrades to First, Business, or even Comfort+, you best be ready to pay for it…regardless of your status. Fun times ahead…

“We want people to be able to use those miles not to fly for free but to control your experience,” says Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s incoming president and architect of the airline’s revenue plans.

He said the traditional airline upgrade system amounts to “winning a prize” and leaves many customers displeased. “We were really making nobody happy except the person who won the lottery at the gate,” Hauenstein said. He said the changes have improved customer satisfaction scores among the top tiers of elite SkyMiles members. We want people to be able to use those miles not to fly for free but to control your experience,”

Delta intends to lower the prices of First and Business Class seats so that more are sold, they want the percentage to increase from the current 57% to 70% by 2018. The airline also intends to promote Comfort+ increases from the current 36% to 50% by 2018. Lower level elites will likely face trouble upgrading to Comfort+ in the future, but top tier elites who didn’t score First/Business will “still receive an upgraded experience with Comfort+”.

Check out the full scary read that UA and AA are likely to copy here.

DL Upgrade

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Paul Chambers March 4, 2016 - 11:15 am

“We asked our most frequent, frequent fliers and they told us they didn’t want free flights.” What a sad excuse for an airline. Oh, and, I’m a million-miler on this sinking ship.

Christian March 4, 2016 - 11:21 am

Damn freeloaders, trying to use airlines miles to get a free ticket.

Boraxo March 4, 2016 - 12:01 pm

Alas those days of 75k miles for 2 first class award tix to Hawaii are long gone. And so am I – haven’t flown DL for two decades except for 1 business trip where I was literally forced to use DL.
Good riddance. UA may not provide as nice customer service but at least I can use my miles as I choose.

Jd March 4, 2016 - 12:10 pm

isnt Delta in essence saying the heck with brand loyalty? We dont care how much u fly with us?

Houston Robert March 4, 2016 - 12:58 pm

The headline is misleading, as the linked article refers only to First and Business Class seats, with no mention made of economy seats. And yes, I know we all enjoy paying nothing to sit up front for free.

Adam March 4, 2016 - 1:04 pm

@Houston Robert – I have to disagree with you. The key takeaway from the article is that “Delta wants to end the free trip mindset and get people treating their miles as a form of currency”. That will apply to Economy, Business, and First. Class likely won’t as important as the $ price of the ticket.

RR March 4, 2016 - 1:04 pm

I’m already doing this on United. I’m not sure why this is such a discovery for Delta. First class fares have come down to within striking distance of economy + extra legroom seats. It’s become a no brainer to just buy first.

What’s really helped me is that because the miles programs are pretty much worthless at this point, I’ve ditched all airline loyalty altogether. I fly with the cheapest first class nonstop product, which has mostly been UA because of their aggressive pricing.


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