Delta Implements Stricter Airport Lounge Access and Elite Status Rules
Delta Air Lines is making changes to its airport lounge access and elite status requirements, making it more challenging for many American Express cardholders to enjoy these perks. Starting January 1st, customers will earn Delta Medallion status based solely on their spending, rather than a combination of dollars spent with the airline and flights. This move aligns with the approach taken by American Airlines earlier this year, as major airlines respond to the surge in customer spending on flights and co-branded credit cards.
Earning Elite Status through Spending
Delta customers will earn 1 Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) for every $1 spent on Delta flights, car rentals, hotels, and vacation packages booked through the airline. However, the earning ratio differs for dollars spent on co-branded American Express cards. Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express card members earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent, while Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Card Members earn 1 MQD for every $20 spent.
New Status Requirements
The updated status requirements for Delta's Medallion program are as follows:
- Silver Medallion: 6,000 MQDs
- Gold Medallion: 12,000 MQDs
- Platinum Medallion: 18,000 MQDs
- Diamond Medallion: 35,000 MQDs
Changes to Sky Club Lounge Access
Delta is also implementing changes to access its Sky Club airport lounges through certain American Express credit cards. To address overcrowding concerns, starting February 1st, 2025, American Express Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders will be limited to six visits per year, unless they spend $75,000 on the card within a calendar year. Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business cardholders will have 10 Sky Club visits per year, with the option to exceed the limit by spending $75,000 annually.
Club Access for Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business Card Members
Delta's SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express cards will no longer grant club access. However, customers can still enter by purchasing a club membership or if they have elite status with Delta, which allows them to choose a club membership as a perk. These changes were made in collaboration with American Express to prioritize premium customers and optimize the utilization of Sky Club assets.
In response to overcrowding concerns, Delta implemented various measures last year, such as restricting employee access and increasing club membership prices for regular customers. Airlines like Delta and United are continuously expanding and modernizing their lounges to accommodate the growing number of customers seeking these amenities. For instance, United recently opened a 35,000 square-foot club at Denver International Airport, the largest in its network, following the launch of a 24,000 square-foot club at the same airport earlier this summer.
Conclusion: Implications for New Businesses
Delta's changes to its elite status requirements and airport lounge access rules highlight the importance of managing customer expectations and delivering value. For new businesses, particularly those in the service industry, these changes offer valuable lessons.
Customer Loyalty and Spending
Delta's shift to a spending-based model for earning elite status underscores the value of customer loyalty and spending. New businesses must consider how to incentivize customer spending and loyalty, as this can significantly impact their bottom line.
Managing Access to Premium Services
Delta's decision to limit airport lounge access reflects the challenges of managing access to premium services. Overcrowding can dilute the value of these services, leading to customer dissatisfaction. New businesses offering premium services must carefully manage access to maintain their value and appeal.
Collaboration with Partners
Delta's collaboration with American Express to implement these changes highlights the importance of effective partnerships. New businesses can benefit from strategic partnerships that align with their goals and enhance their offerings.
In conclusion, Delta's changes to its elite status and airport lounge access rules provide valuable insights for new businesses. By incentivizing customer spending, managing access to premium services, and leveraging strategic partnerships, new businesses can enhance their offerings and customer satisfaction.