Whose Elite Members Most Need to Come in From the Cold?

A year ago in a post about redeeming Delta Skymiles I made a side comment comparing them to Air Baltic BalticMiles,

It’s no secret that I think Delta miles are worth less than miles with United, American, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines. Sometimes I think they’re worth less than Air Baltic BalticMiles and Ukraine International Airlines Panorama Club miles. I’m the guy who coined the term “Skypesos” after all.

That brought out the head of the BalticMiles program in the comments.

Gabi said,

I think it is time we get you over to Riga, Latvia to change your perception of the airBaltic BalticMiles value 🙂

He went on to say, though, that of course “it will be minus 30 C in a few months……”

It turns out, though, that the cold weather in Riga, Latvia doesn’t ward off devaluations. Because the BalticMiles program has taken away two benefits from their elites.

  • Elite members no longer receive free checked bags
  • First-tier elites no longer get free advance seat assignments

Checked bag fees are not just a U.S. phenomenon. And it’s not just U.S. airline elites who get frustrated with benefit cuts, either.

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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. Delta has been very, very good to me. Perhaps you should try earning Diamond status and see how you are treated. Yes, their miles are not as valuable as other airlilnes, but with all of the miles you can earn with credit cards, who cares? I have top elite status on UA, DL, and AA. DL treats me best and, unlike AA and UA, actually operates on time.

  2. “Which of my specific criticisms of Delta are incorrect?
    well… the real name is not Skypesos,
    we all know they are called Delta points 😉

  3. @Gene I was Diamond. The treatment was nice, but not spectacular. I choose to quit just shy of Diamond every year and roll over. The difference really isn’t that great to strive for.

    Also, Delta’s prices, at least from DTW, aren’t competitive anymore. Sometimes not even remotely close for the same city pairs.

    Their skypesos website is broken, and has been broken for decade. Pretty? Yes. Functional? No way.

  4. It doesn’t matter what anyone has to say about Delta Sky Rubbish.It is what it is and they dont fool bright educated folks that know their programs
    Let them continue with their extortion each and every time
    I booked a first class ticket this morning with another carrier at a higher fare becuase I know the miles will be worth more and my benefits and experience overall will be better
    The main reason I continue to read about the trainwreck known as Delta Airlines on Garys excellent blog or elsewhere?It helps justify how great I feel about doing business elsewhere and how sorry I feel for Deltas victims.oops I mean customers 😉
    Im just beaming that I’m not one of them!
    Say no to SkyPesos Sky Rubbish

  5. Delta doesn’t fool bright educated people like me. I have learned how to work their system, and I am very happy with what I get for my Delta spend.

  6. Geeez…Delta has also been very good to me. I have been Diamond status for the last two year and have been treated well. I also agree that their miles are not as valuable as other airlines, but I get a ton of miles and find ways to use them. I almost always get upgrades and don’t agree with all the complaints.

  7. You passed up an opportunity to visit Latvia? Wow… although, in winter, its hard to blame you…

  8. Gary, what happened with your QR PNH-DOH-SGN tickets? Many of us had our tickets changed to the direct. Was wondering what your experience was. I’m thinking of just canceling and getting my $ back.

  9. Well said easy victor. I am amazed that people don’t realize how long the award engine has been broken. Yes, there are ways around that but the point is that it shouldn’t be that way. Delta is a great airline but skymiles is a big scam.

  10. “broken” as a description of the near hopeless search for awards on DL is a misnomer. It’s ridiculous to pretend their IT folks don’t know EXACTLY what they’re doing. Shameless.

  11. @dalem Your comment about it being “broken” is more accurate. It’s not broken, it’s built that way. I went to the Delta “DO” in Atlanta years ago, and we had all the top brass from DL there. They were specifically asked about the screwed up site back then and told us that it would be fixed shortly. They blamed it on the software incompatibility with the merger of NWA and DL. Give me a friggin break. That was eons ago. If they wanted to fix it, it would be fixed.

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