I’m hoping that this isn’t a trend, but yesterday afternoon a member of Delta’s social media team posted this in the FlyerTalk forums:
We’re trying to do a better job notifying you in advance when changes are made that could impact your travel. That’s why I’m letting you know that we have an update to the baggage policy which impacts some Silver Medallions.
For Economy Class tickets purchased on or after December 15 for travel that will take place on or after March 1st 2012, Silver Medallions will now be allowed to check one bag (the current policy is two bags) weighing up to 70 lbs at no charge on Delta and Delta connection flights.
This policy change will only impact those Silver Medallions traveling within or between the US, CA, USVI, or Puerto Rico.
You can read the whole statement here.
If you’re not familiar with Delta’s SkyMiles program, Silver Medallion is their entry level elite tier and the “equivalent” of AAdvantage Gold status.
Aside from the fact that 3 days is their example of a “better job notifying you in advance when changes are made”, the announcement wasn’t particularly well received.
Delta claims in their statement that:
(w)hile this change may impact some of you, it is still on par with other airlines in the industry.
This isn’t completely true (yet).
Back in September, United announced some changes to their elite status program that will reduce (from 2 to 1) the number of bags their low level elites (Premier Silver) can check for free. These change take effect January 1, 2012.
Something that really offended many people was this item:
The reason I said that it will affect “some” Silver Medallions is because Silver Medallion members with a Reserve, Platinum or Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express can still check a second bag for free.
I’m not super familiar with Delta’s elite status program, but some Delta branded American Express cards come with the same perks as Silver Medallion status and many of the forum posters were upset that certain Amex cardholders will now have more perks than some of Delta’s most frequent flyers. As one poster put it:
So silver members are now worth less then amex members? wow
While the reduced baggage allowance at United and Delta won’t have any direct impact on me, I’m aware that in the airline business there is a tendency to race to the bottom.
There’s no reason to think that American is considering changes to their AAdvantage elite program, and given the way they handled the Million Miler status change, I would be surprised if they made any changes and didn’t announcement them well in advance.
Back when rumors of changes to the Million Miler program were circulating, recently promoted AAdvantage President Maya Leibman’s addressed them when the subject came up in her chat with milepoint members:
What I can say is that if we decide to make changes to the program, we commit to clearly communicate to our members and provide as much advance notice as possible.
I’m an AAdvantage Gold member and though I don’t often check two bags, I have had to do it on a few occasions (long story).
It’s not just that I’d be unhappy about the baggage allowance, I’d be really disappointed if they made any changes that lessened the value of any of their status tiers.
I’m hopeful that it won’t happen for a couple of reasons:
• Unlike United and Delta who have four elite tiers, American has three. So, presumably, there’s less need for differentiation across their elite levels.
• Delta (and United to some degree) offer lower level elite status to some credit card customers, essentially selling status for a price.
• They’re undergoing their Chapter 11 reorganization, so now is probably not the time to alienate any of their most loyal customers.
Again, I haven’t come across anything to indicate that American is considering a change, but it’s always good to know what’s happening at the other airlines…
For a good look at how the airlines compare across their entry level elite tiers, check out this article by The Points Guy.