(Bloomberg) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. is planning more changes to its SkyMiles loyalty program after an overhaul earlier this month triggered an avalanche of negative feedback from members who suddenly found it’s going to be harder and more expensive to reach a higher status or who lost access to airport lounges.
“There will be modifications that we will make,” said Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian, speaking at the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday. “No question we probably went too far” with the changes.
The program shifts were prompted by a swell in higher-status members when the carrier allowed status and miles to roll over during the pandemic even though people weren’t flying. That almost doubled the number of “diamond” medallion holders, the highest level, Bastian said. The resulting increase in demand for premium products and services was “far in excess” of Delta’s ability and assets, he said. The airlines’ Sky Club lounges, for example, were overwhelmed, with long lines stretching outside the entrance at some airports.
“Our team wanted to kind of rip the band aid off and not go through this every year with nickel and diming,” Bastian said of the initial overhaul. “I think we moved too fast. And so we’re looking at it now.”
Read more: Delta Overhauls SkyMiles to Tally Only Dollars, Not Miles
Among major changes, Delta shifted to awards based only on cash spent, not miles flown, in calculating rewards, and increased by about 50% the requirements to reach status levels. The moves were met with widespread criticism on social media. Some members will lose access to airport lounges, while some will have a limit placed on yearly visits.
Bastian didn’t detail pending follow-up changes because the airline hasn’t finalized plans. Delta will make them public over coming weeks, he said.
(Updates with specifics on highest-level status members from third paragraph.)
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