In Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder intentionally produce a flop on Broadway. They oversold shares in the production many times, and planned to run away with investors’ money. In the 1967 film “Springtime For Hitler and Germany” was an ironic, surprise smash hit. In 2023, Delta’s changes to the SkyMiles program are producing equal and opposite amounts of outrage.
Alaska Airlines took a poke at Delta by offering SkyMiles elite members a lifeline: Mileage Plan status that’s even one level above what SkyMiles members have earned for 2024, if they also take an Alaska Airlines credit card. Alaska’s head of loyalty said,
We’ve always believed that loyalty is about more than just revenue and that earning elite status shouldn’t require a second mortgage. We’ve designed Mileage Plan to reward loyalty in its many forms which is why we offer guests the fastest track to elite status with no spend requirements.
Alaska has a competing hub with Delta in Seattle, and also competes directly in Los Angeles. But Alaska isn’t alone in smelling opportunity. JetBlue now has a dedicated status offer for disaffected Delta customers.
JetBlue competes significantly against Delta in New York and Boston and is offering their ‘Mosaic’ status to disaffected Delta elites, even even calling it ‘Mosaic on the DL’.
The first 30,000 Delta elites who take advantage of the match by October 31 and will receive elite status and even one of JetBlue’s choice benefits pre-determined for each matched level.
SkyMiles Medallion Tier
TrueBlue Mosaic Level
Tiles Required to Maintain Status in 2024
Pre-Selected Perks You Pick
|Silver||Mosaic 1||6||Mint Suite Priority|
|Gold||Mosaic 2||12||Pet Fee Waiver|
|Platinum||Mosaic 3||24||FoundersCard Blue Membership|
|Diamond||Mosaic 4||30||15,000 bonus points|
JetBlue only just launched a meaningful status program four months ago, completely revamped as part of aligning its offerings with historically more loyalty-focused American Airlines.
They lost their American partnership after the Biden administration went to court to stop it, putting Delta in the clear pole position in New York and Boston. But Delta is hurting their brand with many of their best customers, and JetBlue now finds itself in a position ready to offer richer benefits to entice those Delta status passengers.
JetBlue’s challenge gives temporary status right away and an expedited path to keep that status. You can accomplish that either by flying or by being approved for a co-brand credit card.
Still, a Delta Diamond moving to JetBlue will receive Mint upgrade certificates and 4 one-way Blade Airport helicopter transfers between Manhattan & New York JFK or Newark, plus 15,000 bonus miles. That’s a ton of value right away and should be attractive to flyers in the Northeast (and potentially Florida). Delta Gold members and above will get free JetBlue extra legroom seats at booking.
It’s been over a decade since a U.S. airline has seen such a strong targeted opportunity against another major domestic carrier. Alaska and JetBlue both so far – maybe soon others! – smell blood in the water after Delta decided to fire many of its best customers, taking away unlimited visits to lounges for those paying for its $550 annual fee credit card and substantially upping the requirements to earn elite status way beyond the reach of many.
The biggest limitation here, though, is that while Delta’s advantage over competitors which have allowed it to consistently demand more from customers while giving less over the years are eroding they aren’t really eroding against JetBlue at least in terms of operational reliability.
Delta cancels flights far more often than they used to. Customers making a move to JetBlue will retain free wifi and a good onboard experience, but still less reliability than Delta and much of the rest of the industry. Delta is running SkyMiles like they’re intentionally trying to tank it like Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, though, so for some of their best customers this may not even matter.