Delta announced a plan to fire a large number of their best customers.
- Take away unlimited airport lounge access from its premium credit card holders, limiting them to 10 visits per year unless they spend $75,000 or more each year on the card and ban them from entering when traveling on basic economy fares.
- Make status much harder to earn – consider only qualifying dollars, and no longer look at miles or flights flown – and increase the dollars required for status. Top tier Diamond would go from $20,000 to $35,000.
Their bet was they could push their best customers to increase their ticket spend and to increase their credit card spend enough to more than offset all of the customers who would defect. But they were clearly already defecting. Smelling blood in the water, Alaska and JetBlue offered lucrative status matches. And Delta’s CEO promised to unwind some of the changes.
But they aren’t really going to reverse course. This is only meant to trick you. In a remarkable fit of honesty, here’s what CEO Ed Bastian said:
Our team wanted to kind of rip the Band-Aid off and didn’t want to keep having to go through this every year with changes and nickel and diming..I think we moved too fast.
- Delta doesn’t think their changes were a mistake
- They believe they have a marketing and roll out problem
- They weren’t done making changes, and haven’t changed their path
- But they want to stop the bleeding, so are promising some (temporary) adjustments
Many of you will probably wait to see what those are, so won’t jump ship. That’s what Delta is banking on. They’re hoping that the anger will dissipate if they wait, and if they make some temporary concessions.
What Delta forgot about its customers, but has since been reminded: if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out immediately. However, if the frog is placed in tepid water that is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. You’re the frog.