They were after the money, not the customer.

(Screenshot from a Delta video.)

Chris Matisczyk/screenshot


It’s something everyone craves, secretly or not.

It’s something airlines want customers to have.

It’s something airline customers want to feel as they separate themselves from the riffs and bullshit.

Lately, however, it seems that too many airline customers have been promoted to high levels. Which has left airlines scrambling to please them.

Delta, for example, had to limit how many of its taller customers it could allow into its lounges.

And now the airline has quietly punctured their egos in a truly obscene way.

Like Points Guy reported, Delta has demoted its Diamond Medallion members to a frankly painful level. Now they are no longer allowed to board passengers wearing the fanciest threads and flying in the fanciest seats. Instead, they will be moved to take their seats just before the actual downgrade to first economy.

You can laugh at their pain. Please remember, however, that many of these Diamond Medallion members are those corporate travelers that the airlines claim they want to see again.

Perhaps that’s why Delta tried to characterize this as a “minor onboard update” rather than a crushing of the road warrior’s delicate soul.

You express your loyalty over and over again to an airline with the expectation that you will get special treatment for your problems.

Instead, it’s actually a clear — um, minor — downgrade.

May I pause to suggest how Delta describes the Medallionists?: “Medallion members are our most loyal customers.”

Worse for some will be the airline’s apologies – sorry, I meant explanations – for this sudden move. Delta says it prevents any of these Medallionists from quickly tarnishing the economy parts of the plane, thereby (supposedly) giving cabin crew a few more minutes to clean and prepare after the previous flight.

Some may struggle with this logic. After all, priority boarding is given to the weak and families with children. Is Delta saying that Medallionists darken planes more than, say, a four-year-old?

Delta’s second reason may be a bit more compelling. Easy. The airline says there is now much more congestion at the gate, with many status riders desperate to get on the plane as soon as possible.

In this way, the airline can – possibly – create a little more space. Yet isn’t it the truth that through so many gates everyone is moving in a completely unstructured way, blocking out everyone else who is moving in a completely desperate way?

Could it be that the really rich passengers flying first class or Delta One were complaining about having to board with the (to them) humble medallions?

Also: A Delta customer requested basic service. Instead, rave Twilight Zone

Delta claims that downgrading Medallionists still means they get a “preferential onboarding experience.” Yes, but no longer as preferential as it was. Which can only puncture their sometimes fragile self-esteem and make them question their devotion to what was once America’s premier airline.

There’s little worse than thinking you’ve finally nailed it, committing so many times to a brand, and then having that feeling pierced, never to return. Instead of boarding with the wealthiest, those who paid the highest prices for the most comfortable seat possible, the Medallionists will watch them as they walk forward.

I fear dissatisfaction. I fear disappointment. Also, I’m afraid that Delta still doesn’t have a competitor that fully lives up to its brand image. Although Delta’s has rapidly fallen of late from, say, diamond to landscape rock.

Perhaps United Airlines will assume the mantle of America’s best airline for customer service and sensitive road warrior perks.

I know. Who would ever imagine that?

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