Loyalty Programs Should Be Loyal

I recently saw Delta Points sharing a Delta Skymiles ad, which I’ve seen around over the past couple of years and have a copy of.

It’s especially ironic. They lay down a belief about what a frequent flyer should do. The ad came out around 2012, if memory serves.

I’m not sure how well they lived up to the idea back then. The best argument they made, I think, was about reducing fees associated with award tickets. Sure, award space might have been tougher to get than with other programs. They didn’t have one-way awards at half the price of roundtrip. Routing rules and website pricing were sources of frustration. But they weren’t charging close-in booking fees. And unmentioned, they eliminated the expiration of miles (after leading the way in shortening expiration periods down to 18 months, expiring tons of miles, and cleaning off the program’s balance sheet).

But how does the new 2015 Skymiles program live up to the principle that a loyalty program should be loyal?

The whole point of Delta’s new revenue-based program about to go into effect is to change how much they reward you on each trip based on how much your ticket costs on that particular day.

Loyalty means treating you as a valuable customer each and every time, whether a given ticket you’re buying is expensive or cheap. You are still you. You are the same loyal customer the day that your ticket costs $5000 as the day your ticket costs $200, buying the fare that Delta offers you for the trip you need.

Cynics among you will say that Delta didn’t really believe what they put into their 2012 ad, still seen at some airports around the country. It was just a marketing slogan. And that likely wouldn’t be wrong. But it’s still a huge contrast in messaging.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Regarding Delta, since I live in a hub and they have most of the direct flights, I use them more than I want to. Is there a credit card out there that transfers points to Delta besides their own?

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