Delta broke one of the cardinal sins of the frequent flyer world when it published a new award chart on Sept. 1, 2012 without notifying members. While the award changes were minor, it’s common courtesy to inform members when mileage amounts change so they can either book an award before the changes go into effect or at the very least know what the new requirements are.
The changes only involved a handful of medium and high awards; all low level awards remained the same. Award flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean and Mexico are now 27,500 miles at the Medium level (from 25,000) and 37,500 miles at the High level (from 35,000). Medium awards to Southern South America and Europe are now 47,500 miles (from 45,000) and 65,000 miles for High (from 62,500). Miles required for awards at the High level from the U.S. to Southeast Asia decreased and are now 175,000 miles (from 185,000 miles).
Bottom line: Members will now need to redeem an additional 5,000 miles when booking awards roundtrip from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Mexico, Southern South America and Europe at the Medium and High levels. Delta’s changes were modest but their method of quietly tweaking the award chart could be viewed as sneaky. Loyalty is built partially on trust and making changes without letting members know erodes the amount of trust members have in a loyalty program. Even if it’s bad news, it’s always better for the programs to communicate with members and keep them informed.