Frequent Flyer

Delta Nixes Mixed-Cabin Awards (Sort of)

The latest loyalty-killer from Delta is the new policy prohibiting mixed classes of service in a round-trip award booking. But there is a work-around.

Delta has become the poster child for split corporate personalities.

Operationally and financially, the airline is killing it, with spot-on-time flights and mega-profits.

But as a marketer of its own brand and services, Delta just can’t get it right. In particular, its loyalty efforts routinely foment antagonism and downright disloyalty.

SkyMiles has been converted into a frequent-flyer program only Masters of the Universe could love. Award seats have been either maddeningly scarce or horrendously expensive. The online award-booking app has been a disaster. And award prices? Delta no longer publishes award-price charts, so they’re whatever the wonky award-booking app says they are.

The latest loyalty-killer is a new policy prohibiting mixed classes of service in a roundtrip award booking.

In the airline’s award FAQ, in response to the question “Can I combine cabin types and/or Award levels in a single Award Ticket,” the newly imposed restriction reads as follows:

No. SkyMiles members do not have the ability to combine Main Cabin, First, Business and Delta One Class into one round-trip Award Ticket.

Delta might have lessened the negative impact of the new policy by pointing out that SkyMiles members can achieve the same outcome—an award trip composed of a coach flight on the outbound and a first-class flight on the return, for example—by making two separate bookings. That would entail more work, of course, and in the event that the trip had to be canceled and the miles redeposited, there would be two fees instead of one. But it does make it possible to construct a two-class roundtrip itinerary, which the FAQ seems to rule out altogether.

So, a mixture of added inconvenience and misinformation.

Reader Reality Check

Is this any way to run a loyalty program?

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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