An open letter to Ed Bastian, Delta Airlines CEO, Dwight James, SVP of Customer Engagement & Loyalty for Delta, and Prashant Sharma, Vice President of Loyalty at Delta.
Dear Ed, Dwight, and Prashant,
My husband and I are currently lounging behind the iStore at LAX's Tom Bradley international terminal on a layover to Hawaii for our babymoon. This trip to Hawaii will be the last we'll take as a married couple with no kids. I love to travel and have brand loyalty to Delta Airlines. In fact, despite the 2020 pandemic surge, I continued to travel, being sure to stay safe. My rate of travel and consistency in staying brand loyal to Delta allowed me to escalate my Medallion status to Platinum.
Since then, I've gamified the system -- trying to obtain more MQMs and MQD by purchasing flights utilizing my Delta Reserve AMEX card to pay for in-flight upgrades, such as first-class seats or wifi. You can imagine that after thousands of hard-earned dollars spent and many miles traveled, I was ecstatic to rise from Gold to Platinium Medallion status late last year.
As a woman who loves to travel and plans to share the world with my baby, maintaining my Delta Medallion status is important, but Delta is making that hard.
I happily spent this year reaping the rewards of medallion status -- complimentary upgrades, a separate medallion hotline when I run into issues, regional upgrade certificates, free extra baggage, and more. Because I've spent most of the last decade traveling, when I found out I was pregnant in May of this year, one of my first thoughts was about how my life would change --including my travel life. However, I quickly realized that my Platinum Medallion status was not baby-proof. Since I'm pregnant, I cannot use the 16 complimentary drink vouchers sitting in my wallet, which expire in January. I'd love to gift or transfer the drink vouchers to friends traveling on Delta, but I learned that I was the only person who could use those vouchers, so those Platinum Medallion benefits will go to waste.
It also hit me that at some point in my pregnancy, I wouldn't be able to travel. Doctors recommend women stop traveling anywhere from 28 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. With such a broad range, it was hard to plan travel more than a few months ahead, as I'd need to get my doctor's recommendation based on my and my baby's health. On top of that, after giving birth, I won't be able to travel for some time since we'll have a newborn, which means the likelihood of accumulating the MQMs and MQDs needed to maintain my Platinum status is slim.
Many new moms focus on their babies, so maintaining an airline's loyalty status is not a priority. Still, as a woman who loves to travel and plans to share the world with my baby, maintaining my Delta Medallion status is important, but Delta is making that hard. The first several months of the new year will be spent with our newborn, not on a plane. That means I'll lose 3-6 months of accumulating MQMs and MQDs to maintain my medallion status for 2024. I'll have to do twice as much travel in the second half of 2023 to retain my Medallion status, and I'm not sure how feasible that is with a new baby.
Add on the fact that Delta has moved the goalpost for next year's qualification, requiring even more dollars to reach Platinum medallion status, and you can see how it seems a new mom can't win. With this letter, I hope that you all will consider women when implementing medallion program changes. With the surge in pregnancies and "Covid babies," the country is seeing another baby boom. How are women who travel loyally on Delta but need to take some time to focus on a new baby supposed to maintain our Medallion status or reap its benefits? Perhaps implementing a "pause" on the Medallion status and allowing us to either retain status for a certain amount of time after a baby's birth or reducing the number of points we need to accumulate status in the first year of a baby's birth (by half) could be options to consider. These are a few ideas, but I'm sure Delta's brilliant and diverse team of men and women can think of a solution that benefits both the loyal Medallion member and the company's bottom line.
In the end, when you keep your female passengers happy by considering their life circumstances, you keep your profits in the black. After all, a lot of us women are the planners in the family -- dragging our husbands and boyfriends off the couch during any given sports season for trips around the world. We should be appreciated as such and shouldn't have to worry about losing or forfeiting our hard-earned status as Delta Platinum Medallion members.
Below is a snapshot of several drink vouchers given to Platinum Medallion members as a benefit. Pregnant or nursing women can't use, share, or transfer these vouchers, so they'll be forfeited.