Delta Announces It Will Stop Informing Travelers How Many Miles They’ve Earned

April Fools, Delta

I know today isn’t a normal posting day, but this news was important enough for me to move up the posting schedule by 24 hours. Delta is making some big changes to SkyMiles.

Really, it was only a matter of time. Once Delta announced it was removing award charts so people wouldn’t know how many miles would be needed to redeem flights, I figured it wouldn’t be long before the program became even more opaque. That day has arrived. Delta says it will no longer tell people how many miles they’ve earned in the SkyMiles program.

Delta Hides Mileage Balance April Fools

This seems incredibly short-sighted. After all, if you don’t know how many miles you have, then how are you supposed to know how much more you need to earn to reach your goal (whatever that may be)? Apparently that’s the point, and there is some method to this madness.

By hiding your mileage balance, Delta is simplifying its business tremendously. While it does have to calculate the number of miles awarded behind-the-scenes, it no longer has to publish the methodology or waste time on programming a system to actually show the miles earned on every flight. Gone are the complex multi-tier partner earning charts and alphabet soup acronyms of MQDs, MQMs, and MQSs. It’s going to make it very easy for the traveler to understand.

Now, when travelers log in to Delta.com, they will be greeted with a simple line showing the level of status they have achieved. The tracker showing how many points have been earned can finally be eliminated, cleaning up the user interface.

For those who are concerned about how many miles are needed to attain the next level of elite status, you can stop worrying about it. Delta will use internal metrics to determine if you should qualify. The benefit here is that Delta can now actively manage the elite program to meet the target number of members. That means it can make sure the experience is good for people at every level. If the internal metrics show too many people are going to qualify, Delta can just change those rules on the fly. Since they aren’t published, it’s a simple fix.

If you’re looking to redeem miles for awards, this now gets much easier as well. You have two options. First, you can go to Delta.com and search. The results will now show only itineraries for which you have enough miles to redeem. If you see no results, it just means there’s nothing available with the number of miles Delta has allocated to you on the back-end. This can change often, so you should keep checking back to see if something becomes available.

Second, you can call Delta. Once you tell them who their partners are, these highly-skilled and well-trained agents be able to tell you which options are available. Again, it’s a binary response since you don’t have to track your miles anymore.

People have been complaining about the ever-increasing complexity of Delta’s loyalty program, so the airline has finally responded. This is much simpler. But the real reason Delta is doing this is because it wants to shift the meaning of a loyalty program. Delta doesn’t want you to try to game the system and alter your behavior just get a reward. It wants to reward you for being blindly loyal without expectation of anything in return.

As I write this, I fear it’s a little too close to reality, so to be clear… Happy April Fools Day to all. Today’s post takes the place of tomorrow’s. I’ll be back again Friday with the Topic of the Week.

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42 comments on “Delta Announces It Will Stop Informing Travelers How Many Miles They’ve Earned

  1. Wow, Cranky. Pretty realistic and plausible, can’t say I would be surprised if one of the airlines did something similar.

  2. I thought it was legit until 3/4ths of the way through. Seriously, nothing in this industry surprises me anymore!

  3. Has Delta thought about how this undermines their partnership with Starwood? How do you know whether to transfer Starpoints if you don’t know what they get you?

  4. You totally had me. I was ready with the “next thing they’ll be telling us to pump our own gas … ” jokes.

  5. I was almost with you up through and including the partner earning charts being gone. And this isn’t April Fool’s, it’s pretty much just satire: “Second, you can call Delta. Once you tell them who their partners are, these highly-skilled and well-trained agents be able to tell you which options are available.”

    Good one.

  6. If only I didn’t read this just after reading another Delta April Fools joke (and thus had my defenses up), you might have had me; nicely done.

  7. Until I got to “highly-skilled and well-trained agents” I wasn’t sure it wasn’t sure if this was real or not…that’s scary…

  8. Very good – you had me until almost the end. What does it say about Delta that I actually believed they would do something like this? Not a great comment on how at least this one reluctant customer feels!

  9. Well, it’s funny – because Casinos have used basically this exact rewards scheme for years. I mean, they do have a “point counter” to tell you how close you are to status – but the exact number of cash you need to spend to earn a “point” is often very opaque and depends on the time you spend at tables and the initial buy-in, and various other metrics that they keep hidden. The benefit they get is that they can constantly keep X percentage of their visitors in the top tier and adjust the rules on the fly (no pun intended).

    While I can’t see any of the legacies doing something like this, I wonder if a smaller/discount carrier might give a “black box” reward program a try someday…

  10. Hah, wow. Totally had me. I even emailed it to my husband after reading half way through saying we need to switch from Delta….. :)

  11. I would have welcomed a post about United improving its cabin to be something completely unrealistic, and by that I mean, adding in free bags, free hot meals in coach, and 36 inches of pitch in coach, and lie flat seats in all F cabins.

  12. Brilliant :-) and for me even more to the point after experiencing all my (BA) Avios points getting high jacked due to a security breach to my Miles account. The feeling is like someone robbed your bank account.

  13. I read this at about 6:30 this morning, in bed on my Kindle. I was almost to the end, completely believing this was real, when I remembered what today is. Congratulations on a very well done prank. Delta has become such a bad joke I could easily imagine them doing this.

  14. Holy crap it’s a good thing I read all the way through. I was so pissed off by halfway I was already pulling up Delta’s FB page to rant! Well played!

  15. For me, you’ve developed a reputation. I believed every word…and then…well, I’m already a little skeptical about what you haven’t said yet Friday.

  16. BRAVO! Well done indeed! Quite plausible when you think about it! You had me muttering under my breath “Here we #%!ing go again”!

  17. You got me too. Although I noticed a bit of what I thought was sarcasm, the rest of the post seemed all too plausible. I just hope Delta management doesn’t get some ideas from this post!!

    Well done, Cranky!

  18. So this means we all get to blame Brett when Delta or another airline tries something similar, right?! ;-)

      1. No worries, Brett. I jest, but I really do think that this will be the future for many programs, and that within 2 or 3 years we will see at least one major LCC or ULCC introduce something similar.

        The casino loyalty programs are a good analogy. I can see a FF program that instead of earning you points, just tracks your purchases and flights until the airline can email you random offers it thinks you might be interested in, almost like how a supermarket loyalty program prints coupons for you at the register.

  19. Reading this on April 10 this seemed completely plausible. The problem with these creative April Fools posts is that they probably give the airlines ideas that they shouldn’t be having.

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