As a United flyer I don’t want Delta to end the Diamond Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver

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What do I care about Delta’s rumored end to this provision that RenésPoints broke two days ago? I haven’t been on a Delta flight since early 2016. I have no plans to fly on Delta in the foreseeable future at all. I’m happy that way. And this is were all the Delta loyalists, appalled by what I just said, will stop reading this. But just give me 2 more minutes of your time. We actually agree on something. So what exactly is it to me that Delta will end this provision? Let me explain.

Quickly after René broke the news, many of his Diamond Medallion (Delta’s highest elite status) readers united in a song of rejoicing. Here’s one example. They claimed that since this would substantially shrink the amount of DM’s, the remaining DM’s would benefit with more upgrade opportunities among other things. Quickly thereafter René explained in detail why this IS NOT good for Delta DM’s. He gave 3 main reasons:

  1. Previous DM’s, now Platinum Medallions, will feel more pressured to pay for an upgrade, since the chances of clearing the upgrade list as a lower level Medallion are far less, creating more competition at the top of the upgrade list, even for those who will still be DM’s.
  2. Previous DM’s, now Platinum Medallions, will likely select the RU certificates over any of the other available benefits. This results in more competition at the top of the upgrade list, and further complicates the dilemma mentioned in #1.
  3. Previous DM’s, now Platinum Medallions, will probably use more miles for upgrades. Again, this results in more competition at the top of the upgrade list, and further complicates the dilemma mentioned in #1.

So, as you can see, although at first sight this may seem like a good thing, making feel the remaining DM’s quite special and elite, it’s not that simple. But again, what’s it to me?

Many of René’s readers have also expressed their frustration at this change, which Delta is yet to deny. Many have vowed to end their loyalty to Delta – see these examples: here and here. And yes, American and United elites may be smiling now, but there’s a very fine line between perks and convenience. Some may be able to go to certain lengths in order to enjoy certain perks, but once the perks are gone, convenience is the next best thing. Think about this:

  • a Delta Diamond Medallion business traveler who lives in Chicago or San Francisco chose to connect through a Delta hub rather than fly nonstop on American or United, because he was able to reach the top level elite status with Delta on credit card spend. You can bet that for the sake of convenience they will rethink that strategy if they are unable to reach DM status moving forward. If they do, who are they going to fly A LOT moving forward? American or United. This would be terrible for Premier Platinums and Premier Golds on the UA side. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to upgrade.
  • with more Delta DM’s changing the airline they fly most frequently with, this will likely mean even more packed United Clubs or Admiral Clubs on the American side.
  • with more Delta DM’s changing their flying patterns, there will be more folks booking United award flights.

I’m not saying that all DM’s would leave Delta. Delta does have the front-running domestic operation out of the big 3, but there’s certainly going to be a number of them that do, and the impact may be felt, especially in United hubs. So although I am a bit jealous that Delta has had this provision up until now (some UA flyers that still hold the Chase Presidential card do as well – though I believe that’s ending soon), I really hope they backtrack and find another solution to filter out the hoards of DM’s that they may have. I’m happy as a United Platinum and clear often, but certainly don’t need the extra competition.

*Featured photo from Legacy Airlines on Pinterest

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