Breaking Up With Delta Air Lines

Dear Delta,

We’ve been together for a long time but you must have seen this coming. Yes, I’ve been flying Southwest. But I don’t think it’s fair to put this all on me. I mean, let’s face it, you’ve changed.

I mean, you were nice to me for a while. But I was never the kind of passenger you really wanted. I think we both know that.

Remember when I got my silver medallion card in the mail? I didn’t even know what it was. It was like a Cinderalla thing for a lowly budget leisure traveler to earn enough MQMs to get upgrades. Upgrades! Oh, first class sure is nice. And then I got GOLD medallion status. Woo-hoo! That was sweet.

Those were great years for us, Delta, and I’ll remember them fondly. We’ll always have those memories. And I want you to know that I was always loyal to you back then.

But, hey, we’re both realists. You never pretended I was your favorite, even though we had a nice relationship.

Remember when Ben Baldanza over at US Airways called low-fare leisure travelers  “cockroaches?” I thought you didn’t feel that way. Delta values all its customers, I thought, even those who fill seats at off-peak times and pay less for them. You never called me a cockroach. But now I wonder, you were thinking it, weren’t you?

That’s OK. I don’t blame you. I just want you to admit that you’re the one who changed.

You changed a lot. When you changed the way status is earned I lost my medallion status. When you changed the way the credit card works, I lost my companion fares. And now you’ve changed the way miles are earned so that I’d have to fly 10 trips to earn the miles I used to earn on one. That was harsh.

It doesn’t help that you’re rehabbing half your fleet to stuff more seats into coach. I know you don’t really want me any more but do you have to crush me quite so literally?

So, anyway, look, no hard feelings but I’ve spent down the miles and I’m turning in the credit card. I’ll see you around. I mean you control half the gates at Bradley since the big merger so we can hardly avoid each other.

But I don’t think I’ll be coming back. Sure, Southwest is never going to put me in first class or give me dinner. Maybe this relationship won’t last, either. But I’m going to give it a shot.

It’s not just that Southwest doesn’t charge bag fees or change fees. They also seem to, well, just like me more. In a way, I feel as if you and I were never really meant to be together. Looking back …

Hey, are you paying attention? I’m breaking up with you, dammit. Could you at least pretend to listen?

What’s that about my ass and the door? Well, hey, fine. Whatever. I was trying to be nice about this. I hope you enjoy your record-breaking profits and your stupid oil refinery. Why don’t you buy a nuclear plant while you’re at it? Let’s see how long it takes you to go bankrupt again.

Wait, sorry, that was uncalled for. I’m not bitter. I just want us both to be happy. Maybe you’re better off without me. I guess you’d better hope so.


10 thoughts on “Breaking Up With Delta Air Lines

  1. p c harris

    Jeanne—I would like very much to join you in booting Delta, but in MGM they are the only game in town. American comes and goes with flights to—Charlotte. Who wants to go to Charlotte? That aside, Southwest is not in MGM. In order to go SW one must travel to Birmingham, a 1 1/2 hour drive. There are lots of airlines in Atlanta, which is 2 1/2 hours+ away. [I am a Gold Medallion member, by the way].
    The new Medallion ‘rules’ read like a Chinese restaurant menu! Go figure it out! Also, in my travels the precious Sky Club has never been filled to capacity so Delta’s claim that they want their patrons to be “more comfortable” is hogwash. Just trying to generate some revenue?
    On the plus side, and I don’t know why I did this, but I bought some Delta stock and it is doing well. I shall probably have to sell it to buy my next ticket!

  2. Stan P

    I know how you feel. After yeas of flying them all over, the unexplained delays, poor service and form apology letters was getting annoying. When they lost my luggage for my son’s graduation and I had to attend the graduation and walk around in the same clothes for two days(all the stores were closed in the town), I thought “Okay, it happens.” When they refused to reschedule the departure without charge for the same trip, I thought “Okay, you screwed me enough.” And that was 14 years ago. I haven’t looked back since.

  3. Kevin


    I hope you find what you’re looking for. For me, I wrote a similar letter to UA after another year of tinfoil, er…..silver status. I moved to DL this year and couldn’t be happier. I’ve come to this zen existence in finally accepting the fact that being a frequent flyer, it isn’t about the miles anymore. If it was, I would just get a mileage-earning card on any airline or through AMEX and be done with it. For me it’s about the service.

    Since getting my silver status matched on DL, it’s been a world of change – friendly gate agents that all consistently tell me “Have a nice flight Mr. Murphy,” customer service agents on the phone that speak clearly and are genuinely interested in helping me, access to exit row seats at the time of booking or half-price E-Comfort seats that I don’t mind paying for, “Red Coats” still in the airports with a friendly smile, an new menu for on board purchases, newer planes coming, and I could go on.

    As is the case in this day and age, the only way an airline can distinguish itself is by its service. The other superficial things I can get with its credit card (free bag and priority boarding), Global Entry (TSA Pre), and with membership in Priority Pass (club access). Miles, at this point in my flying career, are simply a bonus.

  4. Craig Regelbrugge

    I’ve been a loyal Delta flyer for 20 years, through quite a few ups and downs. (I started concentrating my flying after one too many United ORD-DCA cancellations which appeared to be thinly veiled capacity control). While there is no “perfect” in biz air travel, it’s been mostly “up” over the last couple years with Delta. The Northwest merger, from a customer standpoint, was nearly flawless. (Thank the Lord the US Airways hostile takeover was repelled…”Keep Delta MY Delta!!”). Delta’s service, friendliness, innovation, etc. are tops in the industry in my opinion and experience. Granted, I’ve had high Medallion status for at least a dozen years, but if you often have to have your bod in a seat on a plane for business, you can’t do much better and you surely can do much worse.

  5. james sims

    It’s interesting that people knock Delta for changing to a revenue- based frequent flyer plan when Southwest changed to the same type of plan a number of years ago. I see no problem with a company changing anything to reward their best source of revenue, that’s simply good business.

    1. Jeanne Leblanc Post author

      No argument there, James. I’m not even really knocking Delta, not seriously. The company certainly has the right to make these changes. My point is that the changes are particularly unfriendly to low-fare fliers and so I no longer have a particular incentive to fly Delta. While Southwest also has a revenue-based rewards plan, that plan pays out better for fliers at my level. And Southwest has other benefits that Delta does not, including no checked bag fees and no change fees. It’s the latter that really seals the deal for me. I do wonder if Delta’s new strategy will work out better in the short term than the long term, particularly if the economy slumps again. Only time will tell. But in the end everybody’s making a business decision, the airlines and the passengers. And for a high mileage business traveler, Delta may still offer the very best deal. About that I would not know.

  6. Mikey

    Folks, it’s all relative. I suppose DL is better than UA — that’s about the same as saying a tax audit is less painful than root canal. (And my dentist’s Frequent Fillings plan has better perks, too.) As for both of these, um, “airlines,” I find their planes do seem quieter… but I discovered that’s because the seat pitch has become so tiny that my knees block any sound from entering my ears. In fact, I’ve now mastered the art of shifting positions in those micro-seats so cleverly that Cirque de Soleil made me an offer.

    I, too, like Southwest (and Jet Blue), but I’m getting nervous about the former’s movement toward shrinking (and skinnier) seats. However, both are still MUCH more customer-focused and, dare I say it, they almost make flying FUN.

    If you’re as old as me, you’ll remember when that was reality, not fantasy.

    Can things get any worse? Even Megabus looks better and better…

  7. Dave

    Like Jeanne, I am gravitating from Delta to Southwest. I fly frequently between Detroit and New York, but often don’t know the exact day of my return trip, so I find it best to buy one-way tickets to avoid a whopping $250 change penalty. I just checked Delta for LGA-DTW on May 13 and found fares of $441 for one-stop or $567 for non-stop. The Southwest one-stop fare is $133, and they don’t charge for bags nor for making a change. Southwest is becoming my airline of choice on this route even if it means a plane change at MDW or ATL.

  8. beth oneil

    Living in Syracuse, we have to fly to NYC to get a flight to anywhere. USAir left us too many times in NY because they couldn’t fill a scheduled flight to Syracuse. Delta flew it’s Connection flights, which were propeller, far too long. When Jet Blue started up, we just fell in love. Not only were they jets, but on time, reliable, first bag free, clean, new and served a snack with your beverage(!) AND were price competitive. I recommend them to everyone. Since I travel so much, my recommendations are taken seriously, and I have sent a lot of travelers to Jet Blue, even tho Delta has finally switched to jets. Still no contest. I’m not even sure USAir flies to NY> HAHA

  9. southbay flier

    You had the Silver and Gold cards with Delta when they really meant that you were in First Class more often than not. That’s no longer the case anyway. I miss those days.

    I still fly Delta for the free bags (Gold Medallion) and the ability to book myself into Economy Comfort of the exit rows at booking for free and receive relatively humane service, which is nice for transcons. With the new program next year, I will get ~60% fewer miles than I do under the current system. I thought about jumping, but I figured that American and United would match them and now I know I’m right about United and American needs to merge before it can really tinker with their FF Program.

    The problem with Southwest for me is lack of ability to get a seat assignment (I will avoid long flights without the exit row or comfort seats available) and the ability to get a long haul international frequent flyer award. I cashed out my Delta miles for 2 business class tickets to Argentina this year. You can’t do that on Southwest. Plus, Southwest already put in slimline seats to not so rousing reviews a couple years ago. I remember reading the complaints online. I guess with everyone looking for the cheapest price, Delta’s strategy is to pack ’em in tight in back. The only way this backfires, if people revolt and fly someone else for comfort. It never seems to work that way though.

    But, you’re right, the new program isn’t for everyone. Actually, it’s not for most everyone to be honest.


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