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?

 

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