FTU Dallas: Did I Really Volunteer to Give a Delta Talk?

Frequent Traveler University Dallas is approaching, April 17-19. Some tickets still available I hear from the organizers, good for those like me that try to plan in advance and then each month end up redoing their travel plans as life and business intervene.

I was managing my travel reservations today and when I put my Korean Air SkyPass number on a Korean Air flight, I remembered that I was the one who volunteered to give a talked called All About Delta SkyMiles.

It seemed a good idea for FTU to have its first-ever Delta session. I have been a long-time Northwest/Delta flyer, still a Diamond Medallion/Million Miler, yet have been so disgusted by Delta’s arrogance the past few months that have taken off the luggage tags and not flown them this year.

Instead this year I had one SkyTeam trip, booked last year, on Alitalia and Middle East Airlines that I got hosed on Delta’s new partner earning. Rest so far has been Star Alliance (United, EgyptAir, and TAP) and OneWorld (Iberia and, tomorrow, BA), plus Binter. Having good trips without feeling the airline will pull a fast one on me.

It is more fun to cringe at Delta’s every move when I don’t feel associated with the brand, like when they agreed to attempt to refund elites who overpayed for awards due to a specific website glitch, without ever acknowledging or refunding the millions (billions?) of miles that customers have unwittingly overpaid through years of a deceptive website.

Readers, so what the heck should I do about the Delta talk?

  • Make it a SkyTeam talk?
  • Re-title to something like ‘How to Get Hosed Less as a Delta Customer?’
  • What should I cover? What still of use to the miles and points community from SkyMiles? I do live my Economist subscription, but I don’t think that’s why you come to FTU for!

I am sure not going to prepare it until the last minute, by then who knows what SkyMiles looks like!

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  • I’m not sure who you’re asking, perhaps not bloggers, in which case my apologies.

    You’re right about last minute, as Delta never hesitates to pull out the rug from under our feet without notice. But provided that things don’t change much between now and then, I would focus on the positives. People come there to learn, so at some point too much critique becomes irrelevant.

    This is what I would cover.

    1. Amazing, massive business award availability on both Virgins: Atlantic and Australia, including peak travel dates. I’ve recently retested the hubs and routes I covered a couple of months ago and found a lot of availability for up to 4 seats!

    2. Focusing on Delta coach international Saver availability. It takes the same amount of miles as everyone else, so definitely no SkyPesos.

    3. I would cover the instances when one should not use Delta; AA OffPeak redemptions come to mind, especially to Europe and Latin America.

    4. Finally, I would mention that diversification is a key element in this game, so no one should sneeze at Skymiles, no matter how they feel about it.

    Just my $.02. Good luck!

  • Cook

    Mixed experiences with DAL here and it is more than fair to say that they are not improving. I came to DAL via NWA, but the standards are no where near close. The only reason that I have not yet jumped-ship is that the legacy alternatives are no better. If DAL does not fix their award programs (and well) this year, I’ll migrate to Alaska. They have great West Coast service, reasonable national service and improving links with international partnerships. Alaska may not be the least expensive metal available, but they usually understand the needs of their regular customers. The ongoing cat fight at SEA is silly. Delta may win on frequency to some destinations, but they will never beat Alaska on A-B domestic service. Once Alaska gets me to a gateway (mostly west, but some East), the options explode and Alaska has multiple partners. Delta can do that as well, but IME, they don’t much care.
    This realization about Delta is late for me and a bit uncomfortable at times. I have industry friends still employed by Delta (mostly NWA legacy flight crew) and I don’t wish to offend. Let’s put it this way: From the ticket office to the catering, from the nose to the tail, Delta Airlines is not, repeat NOT Northwest Airlines! Delta may be (and is…) a safe and responsible Part 121 carrier, but they seem to have lost their focus on customer loyalty and choice. I DO have choices and I’ll use them. For modest domestic travel, Alaska remains my choice. They have excellent service in the West, just as Jet Blue does in the East. And let’s not take this too seriously! On the few occasions that Alaska has been unable to fulfill what I wanted, be it reservations, check-in or on the airplane – they always seem to have a cheerful sense of humor. Attitude has value and I’ve said plenty.

  • Rachel

    I would love to hear about how to fly Delta using other miles (eg Flying Blue, Alaska). I am hub captive so usually Delta metal makes the best sense, but it is difficult to accrue Delta miles with no new Amex cards.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Rachel – thank you, that’s an angle O would have entirely overlooked.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Andy Shuman – thanks for all the ideas, at times I forget to take into account the pure free agent miles and points redemption view.