(CTN News) – There has been a backlash from customers after Delta Air Lines announced recently a redesign of its loyalty program that would make it more expensive for many travelers to gain elite status and to get into airport lounges.
CEO Ed Bastian said the airline plans to make “modifications” to the program in the next few weeks.
It is without a doubt that we probably went too far,” Bastian told the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday during its meeting.
Delta recently announced changes to its frequent flyer program that would reward customers with elite status on the basis of their spending, a model similar to that used by American Airlines, and would also limit American Express cardholders’ access to Delta’s popular airport Sky Club lounges.
By offering frequent flyer status matching, JetBlue Airways is trying to capitalize on customers’ anger over Delta’s recent changes to its frequent flyer program, saying, “we’ve made it easy for you to sign up for a new loyalty program and see where it takes us.”.
Delta has faced a surge in its elite travel segment,
Bolstered by both the Covid pandemic and the post-pandemic spending boom, as well as swarms of travelers trying to get into its lounges, resulting in long lines for many of its customers.
To cater to the increasing numbers of big spenders at the airport, American Airlines and its rivals, including United Airlines, have been racing to build bigger airport lounges.
It has been confirmed by Bastian that the airline will announce the updated program changes in the coming weeks. There was no further comment on the changes from a Delta spokesman.
In the end, Bastian explained, it has gotten to the point where we are experiencing such a high level of demand for our premium products and services that we are unable to adequately serve it on the basis of the assets that we have,” he said.
As a result of Covid, the airline was able to double the number of Diamond Medallion members over the previous year.
As CEO and founder of Breeze Airways as well as JetBlue, David Neeleman told CNBC on Wednesday that he has Delta Medallion status and that he tries to use Delta’s airport lounges whenever possible, but that sometimes there is a long line and it’s not worth it to do so.
Earlier this year, Delta announced several changes to crack down on the overcrowding at the clubs, such as prohibiting employees from using them if they are flying standby with company travel privileges, regardless of whether they have a credit card that qualifies.
It is also worth noting that the Atlanta-based carrier has raised its prices for regular customers who wish to become members of its club.