Delta announced yesterday a new program to recognize many of their elite customers, as well as many partner elites, under the new branding “Sky Priority.” The new program, rolling out on Thursday, April 15, will offer a consistent set of benefits for a broad group of the carrier’s most frequent fliers, but will also leave a few out in the cold.
The idea behind the program is to provide a consistent and improved experience, from booking through baggage claim, for frequent fliers. It will apply to Delta’s top three elite tiers (not to Silver Elite – whoopsie) as well as SkyTeam Elite Plus members and anyone traveling in the premium cabins. They’ll have dedicated check-in facilities, priority baggage handling and boarding, things that very frequent fliers have come to expect from their airlines and things that are generally provided already.
Perhaps the most significant new development is that these Sky Priority customers will now be compensated a bit when they are seated in coach. Should the upgrade not clear (or the passenger not be eligible, like SkyTeam E+) a coupon will print out with the boarding pass offering a complimentary premium beverage or snack from the Buy-on-Board collection. Quite a nice nod to the folks who didn’t get the upgrade.
Overall the program looks nice, except for excluding the Silver Elites from the free snack/drink, and it definitely is a legitimate enhancement to a frequent flyer program in an era that has mostly been seeing cuts, not improvements.
More discussion of the program is here.
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What’s wrong with excluding silver elites? It’s another way of distinguishing the various elite levels and more reason to aim higher.
Sure, it definitely distinguishes between the tiers. But telling one set of elites that they aren’t as valuable to you has the potential to alienate them. Giving priority security access to partners over your own elites, for example, seems short-sighted. Continental has managed to offer priority security and baggage handling for all their elites and it doesn’t seem that has made too much of a difference in the level people strive for. But taking care of your own always makes more sense to me before offering benefits to others.
To be quite honest, I feel very alienated now as a Silver/Elite member. I was had a higher status before but only flew enough for Silver and now I might as well not have any status at all. I now board with just about everyone else because I fly mostly on the East coast where I’m on regional jets mostly. So really the only perk was getting to board first. Now that it has been taken away, I am seriosly considering a new Airline. I can get a credit card that automatically gets me Silver with the Star Alliance and tell Delta where to stick their “Sky Priority” and that is exactly what I am doing right now. Once approved, Delta will have lost someone who flys 40-50 segments a year and I won’t bat an eye after being treated like this.
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