Should Airlines Offer Refunds if They Implement a Change in Policy in Elite Status With Little or No Advance Notice?

“S o should those who have been duped by Delta get a refund if you purchased MQMs?” asked René in this article posted at Delta Points, arguing that “You see so many day in and day out Delta flyers have been, for the past 11 months, dutifully working to retain or EARN their GOLD medallion status for the 2015 medallion flying year” and then having a major change in policy — the ability to reserve a seat in the Comfort+ section within 72 hours of your flight instead of at any time for domestic flights — be announced in December to be effective as of January.

If you a SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program member who earned Gold Medallion elite level status in 2014 to enjoy throughout 2015 and are unhappy with the new policy change, you could ask for a refund; but you will likely not get it — even if you can prepare a strong argument for your case.

As it states under the Program Changes & Termination section in the official rules of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program:

“Delta and its program partners reserve the right to change program rules, benefits, regulations, Travel Awards, fees, mileage Award levels, Pay with Miles terms and conditions, and special offers at any time without notice.”

This is not the first time Delta Air Lines has announced changes in policy to its SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program during December to take effect in January. FlyerTalk members were outraged at the significant changes announced in December of 2002 effective as of January of 2003…

…and I was outraged as well. In fact, those announced changes are what compelled me to join FlyerTalk as a member in the first place.

I personally believe that announcing significant policy changes in December for implementation in January is indeed unfair to you if you are a member of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program who valued a benefit before the change and concentrated all year to strive for Gold Medallion elite level status — especially as the requirements are now more stringent with the implementation of Medallion Qualification Dollars, so there is a minimum level of $5,000.00 of spend involved — only to have that benefit either devalued or removed altogether; but the argument from Delta Air Lines most likely would be that you agreed to the rules when you signed up to become a member of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program in the first place.

End of story — right?!?

Regardless of that, what do you think: should airlines offer refunds or compensation to those who are affected by changes in policy in a frequent flier loyalty program with little or no advance notice; or do you simply take a risk when you strive to earn elite level status in order to enjoy benefits which may be diminished or disappear when you qualify? If a change is indeed to become effective, should airlines at least give members of its frequent flier loyalty program the courtesy of at least giving as much advance notice as possible?


6 thoughts on “Should Airlines Offer Refunds if They Implement a Change in Policy in Elite Status With Little or No Advance Notice?”

  1. Steve Case says:

    Should you get a refund? Maybe the question should be “why are you still loyal to an airline that is not loyal to you? It’s obvious that DL only cares about the top 5% paying top dollar. Delta is run by the accountants who add nothing to the revenue at DL. How many times did Charley Brown try to kick the football when Lucy was just going to pull it away? People, vote with your wallets.

  2. Nick says:

    Well I kind of agree but then anyone who puts their loyalty in Delta kinda gets what they deserve…
    I suspect the reason they are doing this is they want to strengthen the tie in with Hotel programs, and give away Gold Medallion status. So by doing this they reduce the cost of making that change and can still reap the marketing benefits. These loyalty programs are turning into marketing programs.

  3. Jason says:

    Should they charge you more even if you’ve already earned the status when they add a benefit? When they added these comfort seats and allowed it free, should they have increased the requirements to earn status too?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is an interesting question, Jason. I suppose it all evens out “in the wash”?

  4. Jason says:

    People who buy status didn’t even earn the minimum to get the status they are buying. It’s a suckers bet. The only reason they sell it is because people start complaining when they didn’t requalify. Should those who didn’t earn the status be allowed to move up and inflate the ranks? If you buy status, I have no sympathy. You are just making those who earned more than the minimum compete for an upgrade with you.

  5. Vicente says:

    Trust is eroded particularly among those who fit in a convoluted routing in December or an MR, just so they could hit a certain level. They “invested” with expectations, and as another post said Lucy pulls the ball away.

    Even better, notice in January about next year.

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