Delta Offers the Dumbest Excuse from a Frequent Flyer Program, Ever?

Delta made some (relatively minor) changes to its award chart this week, with no notice whatsoever, either before or after the fact.

The price of some awards just changed, the award chart was updated with new numbers as though they had always been that way.

Wandering Aramean flags that Delta has now offered an explanation for not giving their customers advance notice of the changes.

It works like a pricing change, so legally, we’re not allowed to notify folks in advance.

See, the government requires them to obfuscate changes and ensure that their customers are surprised to learn that the awards they’ve been saving up to redeem for have gotten more expensive!

I have some questions that I would love for Delta’s Tai Hsuan Foundation College of Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine law school graduate attorneys to answer:

Do the folks at 1030 Delta Boulevard in Atlanta really have this much contempt for their customers?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. DeltaGirl (or whatever she’s called) must have gone to the same school of PR as UA Insider.

    The stories we’ve been told lately are just incredible.

  2. Gary, maybe you should start a separate website for fact checking statements by so-called loyalty program insiders. I can’t wait for you to assign this a ‘pants on fire’!

  3. “Do the folks at 1030 Delta Boulevard in Atlanta really have this much contempt for their customers?”

    In a word? YEP!

  4. As the honorable dean of the Tai Hsuan College once said to me “don’t get y’all’s Chakras in a bunch, now!”

  5. Why actually what they meant to say is
    this is an enhancement so that members can find more seat availability due to members lack of interest in the program
    We here at Delta Gotcha you suckers!

  6. I don’t for a moment believe their explanation but what they are talking about is signaling.

    Companies are not allowed to collude regarding pricing. Imagine if airline A posts a new, increased fare for a certain route. Airline B matches it. This could be construed and Airline B signaling A that they won’t undercut the fare. If that was the intent, they’ve broken the law.

    Obviously airlines are allowed to raise their prices so whether or not a price change is, or is not, signaling isn’t obvious. Such is why lawyers and courts exist.

    So what I think the representative is trying to say is that giving advance notice might be interpreted as signaling. It’s true it might depending on what they did. But as you can see from the example of raising a fare, a price increase, whether in dollars or in miles has nothing to do with when it takes place but rather how each carrier reacts to the other.

  7. This situation has nothing to do with unlawful “signaling” to collude with other suppliers in the same industry. That DL party line about “signaling” would be best characterized as nothing but a canard from the ignorant or devious trying to fool the gullible.

  8. If someone at UA or AA was smart, they might try to take advantage of the situation to openly poach some disgruntled DL elites. Continental did exactly that when they dumped Skyteam. I happened to be booked on a CO flight to Europe during the switchover to *A. When the agent checked me in, she handed me a “Sweet…I’m still elite” flyer with instructions to fax/e-mail my current DL status to CO and they would match it. Which I did and promptly received top status within 2 weeks. Unfortunately I did not maintain the status with CO because their routes didn’t fit my travel patterns at the time.

  9. The real problem is that there isnt anywhere else to go. As if UA and AA or USair all dont have massive problems themselves? To think there is a better choice just means you arent fully understanding whats on the other side of the fence. They all suck which is a sad state of airline industry itself.

  10. Give them a break Gary. Not as if they are kicking handicapped kids off their flights, making their mothers cry, and downgrading them to coach like AA.

  11. You forgot the case where LH M&M is being taken to court for announcing the Jan 1, 2011 changes only 4 weeks in advance thru an email and a notice in their magazine.

  12. @oliver2002 – considered including that, but thought references to drawing on foreign law for US court decisions was a stretch :)

  13. This is a new regulation from TSA that Delta is required to comply with. It is designed to prevent terrorists from saving to redeem award tickets.

  14. Gary, you obviously don’t understand that SkyPesos are a form of currency. Think of Delta as Greece, and it all becomes much clearer.

  15. i’m with thepointsguy on delta. My honeymoon with delta is over! in the words of delta themselves, its onward and upward to better benefits and perks for me

  16. BULLSHIT this was communicated internally days before the change… Headline was “POLICY UPDATE”

    At the bottom I was told a note was made that no external communications was currently planned.

  17. Great post Gary; the BS enrages me more than a change would.

    I’m sitting on 260k miles. I’m wondering if the value will a) decline because they boost the redemption table or b) get more valuable because earning rates in the future will be so much lower, but they keep the table.

    I’m thinking of booking two tickets to Europe as an “Insurance policy”. For the cost of the redeposit fee, I can have tickets under the current table. If they miles stay as valuable, I can cancel (because I’ve been slowly saving up to 300k for an aspirational award to Tahiti, if they are ever available).

    Do you have any insights, perhaps based on what happened when Southwest converted?

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