Delta Rethinks SkyMiles Program Amid Backlash

By Kirsteen Mackay


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Delta's CEO admits the company's SkyMiles program needs refining. Discover what this reveals about Delta's strategy and how it affects investors.

Delta Airline Aeroplane ascending.
Investor Alert on Delta's Loyalty Program Overhaul

TL: DR - What You Need To Know

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE: DAL) is one of the major airlines of the United States and a legacy carrier. The company's CEO Ed Bastian recently admitted that the airline may have moved too quickly in revamping its SkyMiles program and lounge access policy. The changes, aimed at better serving all loyalty tiers, ended up causing dissatisfaction among its elite status holders. Particularly, alterations in the way American Express cardholders gain access to Delta Sky Clubs and earn Medallion elite status have come under scrutiny.

Earlier this month, Delta said that starting in 2024, SkyMiles members can't earn elite status by flying miles. Instead, it will be based on how much money they spend. To make things more challenging, Delta is raising the spending requirements for Medallion Qualifying Dollar status and won't count taxes and fees.

Dissatisfied customers argue that the new rules make achieving elite status both harder and costlier, impacting perks like free seat upgrades and no baggage fees.

The surge in elite status members, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, led to excessive demand for premium services, affecting the airline's ability to meet expectations. As a result, Delta is reconsidering its newly implemented policies, promising modifications in the coming weeks.

While rewards programs are crucial for customer acquisition and brand loyalty, they are also a double-edged sword. A slight misstep can lead to consumer backlash, as has been the case with various other brands like Best Buy, Dunkin' Donuts, and Starbucks. Therefore, Delta's admission may also raise concerns among investors regarding the company's overall strategy.

Why This Is Important for Retail Investors

  1. Risk Assessment: Delta's admission of needing to recalibrate its loyalty program indicates a level of uncertainty in the company's decision-making process. For retail investors, understanding this dynamic is crucial for assessing the risk associated with holding or buying Delta stock.

  2. Customer Retention: Loyalty programs like SkyMiles directly impact customer retention rates. An ineffective program can lead to a loss of valuable customers, which could subsequently affect the company's revenue and profitability. Retail investors need to monitor these changes closely as they can have long-term financial implications.

  3. Brand Reputation: The public acknowledgment of the program's shortcomings could have a ripple effect on Delta's brand image. A tarnished reputation can take years to rebuild and can significantly impact stock performance. Retail investors should be aware of how these events could influence public perception and, ultimately, market valuation.

  4. Competitive Positioning: If Delta fails to correct the issues with its loyalty program effectively, it could lose ground to competitors that offer more appealing rewards and benefits. Investors must evaluate how these changes could alter Delta's standing in the highly competitive airline industry.

  5. Investor Sentiment: The CEO's comments could affect investor confidence in Delta's strategic planning and execution capabilities. A decline in investor sentiment often translates to stock price volatility. Retail investors looking for stable returns need to factor in such elements when making investment decisions.

How Can You Use This Information?

Here are some of the investing ideas that can be explored using this information:

  • Value Investing: The acknowledgment of flaws in Delta's loyalty program could lead to a short-term dip in stock prices, presenting a potential buying opportunity for value investors. If the airline can successfully implement corrective measures and regain customer trust, its stock could rebound, providing a good return on investment.

  • Growth Investing: For growth-oriented investors, the key question is whether Delta's planned changes to its loyalty program will drive future revenue growth. If the changes are well-received and lead to increased customer retention and spending, this could signal a growth trajectory that makes the stock more appealing.

  • Momentum Investing: Investors following a momentum investing strategy may want to wait and observe how the market reacts to Delta's impending changes. If the stock shows a strong uptrend after the new policies take effect, it could be a good time to buy in expectation of further gains.

  • Contrarian Investing: The negative sentiment following Delta's announcement might lead to an oversold condition. Contrarian investors might see this as an opportunity to buy when the market sentiment is bearish, expecting a market correction to bring the stock back to its intrinsic value.

  • Dividend Investing: Should the stock price dip due to these developments, dividend yields could become more attractive. Investors focused on income generation might find this an opportune time to acquire Delta shares if they believe the company's long-term profitability isn't in jeopardy.

  • Short-Term Trading: Traders looking for short-term gains may find opportunities in the stock's expected volatility as Delta announces its revised loyalty program. Buying on the dip and selling on news or rumors could be a strategy for those focused on quick profits.

  • Sector Rotation: Investors might also consider the implications of Delta's situation on the broader airline and travel sectors. If Delta's missteps are indicative of challenges that could impact other airlines, investors may look to pivot into other sectors that are displaying stronger performance and stability.

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Author: Kirsteen Mackay

This article does not provide any financial advice and is not a recommendation to deal in any securities or product. Investments may fall in value and an investor may lose some or all of their investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

Kirsteen Mackay does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Kirsteen Mackay has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of, does not hold a position or positions in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

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