Delta Introduces ‘Reclaim My Status’ As A Loyalty Benefit…..But I’m Not Sure It’s All That Great


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Life can be a lot of fun but it can also be challenging and full of unexpected events (both good and bad) so none of us can ever be really sure that the life we’re leading today will be the one we’re leading tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.

If you’re a frequent traveler it can be tough spending a lot of time away from home but some of the things that make all the traveling a little easier are the various airline/hotel statuses we hold.

Delta One Suites – Image courtesy of Delta

Airline status, in particular, can make the difference between a bad flight and good flight courtesy of things like complimentary upgrades, better seating and complimentary food and drinks (even when you’re sitting at the back of the plane)….and that’s why it’s a lot more than just a shiny card to a lot of frequent travelers.

Essentially, airline status can make the travel grind bearable for a lot of road warriors and that’s why it can be a huge hit when that status is lost thanks to a major life event.

After years of loyalty to an airline it’s tough to see your airline status wiped out just because you chose to take time out to have a child, you became ill or any number of other major events took place in your life….but fortunately Delta says it has your back.

Delta has today announced the introduction of it’s “Reclaim My Status” program which allows SkyMiles Medallion Members to restart their travels with a challenge which offers them the opportunity to regain their old status after taking time out for one of life’s expected or unexpected major events.

Image courtesy of Stuart Seeger

Here’s what Sandeep Dube, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Customer Engagement and Loyalty had to say:

“Getting back into travel after a big change can be stressful, and this is one more way we’re showing Medallion Members that we are here for them when they need it. Loyalty is a two-way street and as a leading consumer brand, we are always looking for new ways to take care of our customers.”

Delta says that each person’s situation will be evaluated on a on-on-one basis so there are no set definitions of a major life event that affects a person’s ability to travel but, as an example, here are a few things that would definitely under the umbrella of events which would allow a traveler to apply to reclaim their status:

  • Becoming a parent, including maternity, paternity, adoption or foster leave
  • Recovering from serious illness
  • Sustaining serious injury
  • Changing jobs or careers
  • Caregiving for a family member
  • Getting a degree

Here’s How ‘Reclaim My Status’ Works

Per Delta

  • When Medallion Members are ready to start traveling again after a big change, important life moment or event that affected travel and caused a loss of or change in Status, they should submit a request to get Medallion Status back at delta.com/reclaimmystatus.
  • Most Members will receive a decision from Delta within five business days (but it can take up to two weeks) and if approved, they will automatically and immediately enjoy three months of complimentary Medallion Status.
  • Then, Members who meet the minimum travel and spend thresholds for that Status Tier over that three-month period retain their Status. The following are a couple of illustrative examples:
    • If a Member enrolls in Reclaim My Status on or before Dec. 31, 2019, and meets the thresholds, Medallion Status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2021.
    • If a Member enrolls in Reclaim My Status between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, and meets the thresholds, Medallion Status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2022.

These are the required thresholds required to earn back Delta Medallion status (to be completed over a 3 month period):

For the purposed of comparison, here are the normal requirements for Delta Medallion status:

The ‘Reclaim My Status’ requirements are exactly 25% of the requirements of regular Delta Medallion status….and that’s not surprising as you have exactly 25% of a year in which to re-earn your status.

Full details of the Reclaim My Status program can be found at delta.com/reclaimmystatus.

Note: Delta has actually offered an unpublished and unofficial version of ‘Reclaim My Status’ for a number of years so, contrary to what the airline is saying, this isn’t an entirely new initiative…it’s just more formal now and there are clear published guidelines.

Thoughts

On the one hand I’m impressed while on the other I’m less so.

The are other airlines out there which offer a similar program for people who have gone through a major life event (like Alaska and British Airways) but those airlines don’t appear to cover as many ‘life events’ as Delta says it’s prepared to consider….so that’s a nice positive aspect of Delta’s program.

Having said that, airlines like Alaska and BA don’t require travelers to complete a challenge to regain their old status – they allow their elites to simply pick up from where they left off – so that makes Delta’s program look a little mean.

I’m not sure just how charitable it is to expect a person just returning from a ‘major life event’ to complete 25% of the regular status requirements in 25% of the time given to earn the status in the normal way.

I would suggest that a lot of people who book enough travel to complete the challenges Delta has set out would probably go on to earn their elite status organically anyway so I’m not sure Delta is giving much away here.

Overall this looks more like a PR exercise than a genuine new benefit for Delta Medallion members so I have to admit to being a little disappointed.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is basically making the status-match challenge available to prior elites, i.e. match your status from a year ago on the same airline. Not bad from a customer retention angle especially since it’s available every 3 years.

    And while it’s true that most of these people “would probably go on to earn their elite status organically anyway”, that ignores the huge benefit of starting off the year at Gold, Platinum, etc and immediately receiving upgrades and other benefits, rather than spending 50k miles in the back of the bus with nothing until you reach that status. I think a lot of people undervalue that benefit.

    • The fact that flyers will have the benefits of status immediately is a fair point (and clearly will be useful) but the Delta offer still isn’t as generous (for most people who’ll be using this legitimately) as the ones available from the likes of Alaska and BA.

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