Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Ten Ideas to Fund Rollbacks and Improvements for SkyMiles? Well…

n an effort to save Delta Air Lines some money and fund rollbacks and improvements for the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program, René de Lambert of Delta Points proposed in this article a list of ten ideas and suggestions on how he believes that could possibly be accomplished.

Listed below are those ten ideas and suggestions — along with my thoughts pertaining to them:

1) Remove Newspapers From Intentional Flights.

“Instead, offer them in Skyclub before flight as DeltaONE passengers have club access. This will save fuel (weight from non-used heavy papers) and have agents at check in remind flyers where they can get them. Simpler to recycle from Skyclub too I would think!”

I have an even better idea: almost everyone these days carries a portable electronic device of some type; so offer the news electronically, which will save waste on paper. Allow passengers to either download news articles for free prior to boarding the aircraft; give free access to at least one news channel if there is in-flight entertainment available on the flight; or allow free access to an Internet web site which provides news once aboard the airplane during the flight. Companies — such as eBay back in December of 2011 — have been known in the past to sponsor free access to the Internet during flights.

2) Dump Individual Skyclub Membership From Diamonds.

“…just change the Choice Benefit ‘upgrade to Executive Membership’ to become a full club member as one of the Diamond choices. That way, those who want it can get the perk, those who don’t care about clubs can pick other choices they value more.”

I have no comment on this suggestion — but would it really save money; and would it be significant enough to return other benefits to the SkyMiles program for all members and not just those who earned Diamond Medallion elite level status?

3) Go to Mini Soda Cans.

This idea might lead to more waste; although cans are recycled after being collected by members of the flight crew aboard airplanes operated by Delta Air Lines — but then would that not mean collecting more refuse than is currently collected before the conclusion of a flight?

Although René specifically mentions soda cans, another reason why I do not like this idea is that I like when I ask for orange juice, I — more often than not — receive the entire can; and the plastic cup can usually hold most of the contents of a 12-ounce can.

Moreover, I rarely want ice added to any beverage which I drink because not only does the ice eventually water down the drink; but I also get less of the drink because the ice takes up volume in the cup or glass. With some exceptions, I do not usually like my beverages to be ice cold.

Those pretzels are making me thirsty. Please keep giving me that orange juice.

4) Dump 800 Numbers.

I was initially against this idea; but René has a good point: with so many different ways these days of calling long distance — which includes the plan you most likely chose for your mobile telephone — when was the last time you paid for a long-distance call?

I recently passed by what was once a city ticket office for Delta Air Lines — remember those when they were still an “endangered species”? — and I thought I would miss them, as I used to use them fairly often. Even if they still existed, I cannot really think of a reason to use one anymore since the advent of the Internet, which is where I purchase most — if not all — of my airline tickets over the years.

Come to think of it, I do not believe I have ever purchased a ticket at an airport.

5) Expand What Delta Assist Can Do.

I agree with this idea. No one should have to speak to greater than one person once to get an issue resolved satisfactorily — but then again, this should apply to other methods of communication as well.

6) Snacks Before Lunch or Dinner in Domestic First Class.

Think of the pretzels, peanuts and Biscoff cookies as sort of appetizers to when your appetite before the meal. Unless they are replaced with a round of the snack basket before the meal — without eliminating the snack basket after the meal — I am against this idea.

I like to eat. What can I tell you?!?

7) Allow Meal Choice Ahead of Time for Confirmed First Class.

“AA does this. Heck, have a box to allow them to choose NO MEAL. I know Delta meals do not cost “that” much but to be able to A) have just what I want (of the two choices for that fight) would be great and I am sure some would say NO and thus save money with less meals catered. Add that up on thousands of flights a day and I think that could save some real cash!“

I have always thought that allowing for a meal choice ahead of time was a good idea — but not necessarily because fewer meals would be catered and thus save money. It is simply nice to have the meal you want available instead of being told “I am sorry; but we are out of the filet mignon. All we have left is cold cereal. Would you like for me to bring that to you?”

8) Sell MQSs Each Year.

“…clearly Delta is selling a boatload of people MQMs each year (at insane and crazy prices but still people buy)”, claims René. “I can promise you dearest Delta, segment flyers will PAY YOU CASH if they can by MQSs to make the next elite level. Just do this or add it to the MQM sale-a-thon in December each year.”

The problem with this idea is that — unless you live outside of the United States — you also need a minimum amount of Medallion Qualification Dollars for those Medallion Qualification Segments or Medallion Qualification Miles to be of any value in order to achieve elite level Medallion status for the next year…

…which causes me to wonder: How many people — oblivious of the recent policies implemented to the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program — purchase Medallion Qualification Miles “at insane and crazy prices” when they are usually on sale at the end of the year and find out that they do not have enough Medallion Qualification Dollars in order to use them?

The purchase of Medallion Qualification Miles is usually not refundable. How many of those purchases are actually all for naught and therefore wasted, which potentially results in almost pure profit for Delta Air Lines?

9) Offer Status Buy Back.

Although this sounds like a good idea, would whatever cost to Delta Air Lines pertaining to an increased number of elite status Medallion level SkyMiles members be worth the revenue generated from the purchase of buying back lost elite level status?

Regardless, I always thought this should have been an option — but I supposed that depends on the price and what people are willing to pay for it.

10) Uber and Delta.

This idea really falls under the general partnerships which Delta Air Lines has with many vendors. I do not use Uber; so I really cannot comment on the merit of this idea.


As I wrote this comment in response to this article — also written by René de Lambert — pertaining to his conundrum of rethinking his loyalty to Delta Air Lines and its SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program, “Delta Air Lines is betting that their operations are so good that a loyalty program would not be needed to keep you loyal — ergo, your conundrum.” I mentioned this in past articles such as this one pertaining to being rewarded for your loyalty to an airline, when it is actually the other way around.

I also posted this comment that “…for now, Delta Air Lines is experiencing record profits; and that airline will stay the course until the financial outlook becomes questionable — and only then will changes and ‘givebacks’ be considered, in my opinion.”

In other words, record profits means that if management at Delta Air Lines really wanted to fund rollbacks and improvements in the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program, it would have already been done — or, more accurately, the decimation of the SkyMiles program would not have happened in the first place. Cutbacks are not necessary — but that is besides the point.

Even if every single one of these ideas and suggestions were implemented, the divisions and departments of major corporations such as Delta Air Lines have their own budgets. Many of the aforementioned suggestions would affect various operations of Delta Air Lines which would have little — or, more likely, nothing — to do with the SkyMiles department. Using the savings from one department to fund another department is almost like internal corporate social internal welfare. How would you feel if you worked in a department of a corporation and either saved money or generated profit — only to have the funds go to a different department in the company?

Employees of the SkyMiles department are accountable for their finances. They are tasked with ways to generate as much profit for their department as possible without going overboard to the point of diminishing returns where they lose members of the SkyMiles program. Whether that has happened yet in significance as a result of the drastic changes implemented to the program remains to be seen; but one thing is for certain: they are not interested in simply giving anything away in return for loyalty.

I do not fault René for attempting to do whatever is possible to attempt to return the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program back towards what it was years ago — in fact, I myself would like to see the SkyMiles program of several years ago return, along with Kevin Pinto — but some of his ideas and suggestions are mixing apples and oranges…

…and I believe that nothing short of a faltering economy will bring significant rollbacks and improvements to the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program…

…although low airfares — some of which approach mistake fare territory — being reported in numerous articles posted here at BoardingArea may provide some impetus; but that remains to be seen as well.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!