Delta Air Lines' new seasonal service to Turks and Caicos is for sale this weekend, as the carrier's chief executive vowed this week to review and modify controversial changes to its rewards program.
These will be Delta's first non-stops from MSP to Turks & Caicos (PLS), with Saturday-only seasonal service scheduled to run Jan. 20 through April 6. The new route is fleeted on a 737-800. At publication time, the non-stops had not yet appeared on Delta's website but a spokesman said ticket sales are planned to start during the weekend.
Speaking to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday, Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian said the Atlanta-based airline had received "a lot" of feedback on the changes announced last month that essentially made achieving status through the SkyMiles program harder while also raising the threshold for accessing its airport lounges.
"No question, we probably went too far in doing that," Bastian said. "Our team wanted to kind of rip the Band-Aid off and didn't want to have to keep going through this every year with changes and nickeling and diming and whatnot, so I think we moved too fast."
Bastian said the airline will re-evaluate the overhaul, which aimed to base status solely on the amount of money flyers spend with the carrier, or via their SkyMiles American Express credit cards, rather than miles flown.
Bastian explained the program alterations were due in part to the rapid increase of status holders through the pandemic.
Delta, the dominant carrier at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, has slowly shifted its frequent flyer program away from rewarding miles flown in favor of higher spending or "Medallion Qualifying Dollars."
As a result of last month's changes, SkyMiles members would need to spend more on Delta travel and/or charge much more to their Delta credit cards to earn perks such as first-class upgrades, complimentary airport club access and more.
A customer would have to spend more than $6,000 on Delta or — without spending a dollar on the airline — $120,000 on a Delta SkyMiles credit card next year to earn the lowest status tier. Delta also confirmed last month that it plans to cap the number of entries to its Sky Clubs starting Feb. 1, 2025, for premium card holders.