Delta Making Frequent Flyer Miles Harder To Redeem

Delta is “tweaking” its frequent flyer program to make seats more difficult to reserve. It’s also going to begin charging a fee for booking flights on its partner airlines.

The main change comes from the elimination of a program where one could pay twice the number of award points in order to book any open seat on any flight. Delta says most of its customers won’t even notice a change because not many of its passengers use the program.

In an Oct. 30 interview, Lee Macenczak, Delta’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, said that, “90 to 95 percent of people using SkyChoice,” Delta’s premium award level, won’t be affected.

“We perceive it to be a minor change, but it’s elicited a much more emotional response,” he said.

“We got some push back from customers, and we expected to,” said Macenczak. “What we’re really saying is: Can you give this a chance? Because we believe that for the most part, people won’t notice much of a change.”

Delta’s justification, however, isn’t assuaging critics of the new policy.

Said Howard: “Airlines lost sight of the original purpose of frequent-flier programs, which was to psychologically bind the business traveler to picking an airline and sticking with them.”

Don’t worry, Delta. All your business travelers are going to go fly Southwest anyway, because they no longer have to wait for a bunch of toddlers to board the flight. At least in theory.

Delta under fire for frequent flier change [Atlanta Business Journal via USAToday]