A group of Delta Air Lines frequent flyers has banded together to protest the changes to the airline's frequent flyer program, which include a drastic reduction in benefits to some of its best customers. Among the group's concerns are fewer upgrades and changes to the way the airline credits loyal flyers for their travel. "These changes have not only estranged many of Delta's best customers; some feel that they threaten the airlines survival." Says Dr. Art Epstein, an optometrist, who flew over 100,000 miles on Delta last year lecturing throughout the United States.
"I don't think the majority of Delta's most loyal flyers understand the implications of the changes and how negatively they affect us," said Jeff Taylor, a Los Angeles-based senior manager for a book publishing company. "Delta is actually going out of its way to take away benefits from its most loyal customers, benefits that cost them almost nothing. You would think in such horrible economic times, they'd be doing the opposite."
The group has formed a website (www.saveskymiles.com) and is distributing buttons and information to encourage other Delta flyers to join the cause and persuade Delta to reconsider the excessive cuts. "I really do not want to leave Delta, but they are giving me no choice in the matter", said Mike Seidenman, a sales manager from Fairfield, Ohio. "We all know that alienating your best customers is not the way to build business. It is much harder to regain a customer than it is to retain one."
Monetary support has been pouring in from all over the world to aid its members in creating awareness among other frequent flyers. The fund will be used for publicity in key Delta markets and at its annual shareholders meeting in New York City next month. "We're not lunatics. We're looking for a few concessions, reasonable changes, so we can stay with Delta without feeling like suckers," said Bruce Schobel, a New York-based actuary.
A brief summary of the changes to the 2003 SkyMiles Medallion frequent flyer program:
- Certain coach fares will now earn only 50% mileage credit toward Medallion status
- International/domestic segment accrual no longer counts towards Medallion status
- Reduced benefits, including upgrades
- Reduced differentiation in benefits between various levels of frequent flyers
Schobel maintains most group members would like to continue flying with the airline if adequate changes are made. "Delta's program is no longer competitive with those of other airlines, and we believe that this will drive away customers. Basically, we support Delta. We don't want to see our favorite airline destroy itself."
For more information on the group, please visit their website at: www.saveskymiles.com.
Contact: Bruce Schobel
Dr. Art Epstein