Airline customer loyalty programs are great at getting you to continue returning as a customer. Trips are expensive and once you’ve earned a free trip, through using your credit card or by racking up enough points with their partners, you’re going to use that airline for your next trip even if your experience was just okay the last time. The Delta loyalty program is a good example of an airline loyalty program that gets their customers to return for future flights.

While airline loyalty programs are among the most common, they can also be a bit complicated. You don’t just earn $10 off one purchase. Usually, your points add up as you spend money on a variety of things through your credit card or purchases with the partnerships that they have. However, if you love to travel, your points can add up quickly and you can earn free flights to destinations that you’ve always wanted to go to! Each flight that you take is another opportunity to earn more miles and get to the next place on your wish list.

delta loyalty program - airplaneA free lunch is nothing compared to a free trip

There are five main elements that are vital to a successful customer loyalty program. It must motivate customers to continually earn points towards their reward, it should connect with the customer base on a personal level, it must be simple and easy enough to understand, the focus should be on earning points and finally success should be measured through feedback. Let’s take a look at what Delta is doing well with their customer loyalty program, and how they are working to turn customers into loyal patrons and fans.


1) Motivate and Encourage customers to Earn more Rewards

Properly planned and executed programs can foster a relationship between a business and their clientele. It is important to create a program that appears to actually exude a reward. Therefore, the company must convince customers to join the program based on its inherent benefits.

Relevance in loyalty rewards is key. Research shows 57 percent of customers sign up for a program to save money, so bear this in mind when choosing your reward structure. Delta’s loyalty program won’t save the occasional traveler much money, but for the person who loves travel or the businessman who is frequently on the go for work, the regular bookings build up over time, and the free flights will likely save them money. Most importantly, it gets the travelers to choose Delta as their airline again and again, which will increase Delta’s bottom loyalty program - the view from the top

The view from the top

​Delta’s loyalty program motivates customers to earn rewards not just towards another flight, but also towards upgrades. Customers can upgrade to first class if that is how they decide they want to use their rewards.


2) Provide a Personal Connection with Medallion Status

Customers need to feel as if they are more important than a mere transaction. An excellent loyalty program creates a connection between the customer and the company. Customer-specific prizes are a great way to approach this concept. It is great when a loyalty program tracks purchasing records and can tailor the rewards based on each person’s preference.

When a customer feels special, they will share that feeling with their friends and family. This can help to generate positive word-of-mouth marketing. Delta’s loyalty program allows their members to feel special because their rewards are tailored to their needs and how they want to travel.

Delta’s loyalty program has an upgrade to Medallion Status. This creates an exclusivity for the most-loyal members and an elevated travel experience. Medallion members can upgrade to first class, enjoy waived fees and multiply their miles to earn even more trips – the extra topping at the highest level of the


3) Keeping the Program Easy – and Making it Easier with AmEx partnership miles

In creating a customer loyalty program, it is important for a quick and easy registration process. The last thing that you will want to do is annoy your customer or deter them by making the sign up complicated and confusing. Delta’s Loyalty program is simple to sign up for. It is free and you have to fill out a simple online registration form.

How does the Delta Loyalty Program work?

  1. When you book a flight, you will enter your SkyMiles number.
  2. On Delta-marketed flights, you will earn 5 miles for each $1 spent on your ticket. The ticket price that is eligible to earn miles includes the base fare and any carrier-imposed surcharges. It excludes the government imposed taxes and fees.
  3. On the flights that you take with partner airlines, you’ll earn miles differently and may have certain exception fares.
  4. When you achieve Medallion status, you’ll earn even more miles, up to 11 miles per $1 spent.
  5. The miles that are earned will be earned by the member who is flying regardless of who purchased the ticket.

delta loyalty program

One of the great features of Delta’s Loyalty program is that the miles that you earn never expire.

While “buy 9 and get 1 free” is a simple concept to understand, it can be a bit overwhelming for the average customer who isn’t interested in buying in bulk. The reward must be attainable or the customers will disregard the program entirely. Delta overcomes this option by partnering with American Express and allowing participants to earn miles through their credit card purchases, which leads us nicely to the points system.

4) Focus on points, not dollars

Customers can be skeptical if you are asking them to spend a certain amount of money. They may wonder if they will actually benefit from the program or if they are just adding to the company’s bottom line. By creating a point system, it makes it more of a game and removes that skepticism. This also enables you to offer extra points for things other than purchases.

Delta’s Loyalty program has its customers earning miles that can be used for future travel. Miles can be earned not only through purchasing tickets from Delta, but also with credit card purchases. You can also earn 60,000 miles simply for signing up for a credit card.

Get Rewarded with Your Credit Card Purchases

When you open a Delta SkyMiles Credit card, every eligible purchase will count towards your next journey. Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from America Express tracks your eligible purchases and applies them to your next trip with Delta. This gives you an additional way to earn a trip even faster as you use your credit card on a daily basis.

You’ll earn 2 miles for each dollar you spend on Delta purchases. For everyday purchases, you’ll earn 1 mile per eligible dollar spent. There are no caps on the number of miles that you can earn.

The following credit cards will earn you loyalty points with Delta. Note that while the rewards are doubled for Delta bookings, you can still earn rewards for everyday spending like on a regular credit card.

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • 2 miles per dollar on purchases directly from Delta
  • 2 miles per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other spending
  • Annual fee: $0

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible purchases made directly with Delta
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

  • 2 miles per dollar on purchases directly from Delta
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $195

Delta Reserve Credit Card

  • 2 miles per dollar on purchases directly from Delta
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $450 — includes access to Delta Sky Clubs airport lounges

Miles Every Day: Earn with SkyMiles Partners

Your everyday purchases can be added up into miles that will be used for your next purchase. This can include your trips to the grocery store, payment on your electric bills and your fitness classes. You can watch your miles add up faster when you book accommodations, request rides, shop dine and more with SkyMiles partners. SkyMiles partners include Lyft, AirBNB, hotels, car rentals.

You can shop your favorite brands and earn miles on flowers, gifts and fine wine. You can also earn miles when you shop hundreds of your favorite brands, including Apple, Macy’s and Nike.

Dining will also earn you SkyMiles. There are thousands of participating restaurants. Some of your favorite local spots may be participating.

delta loyalty program - miles

5) Measure your successes

A worthwhile loyalty program enables customer feedback. Companies should actively utilize feedback to enhance their current program. Effective programs measure and track spending habits. This can help project future sales and help you tailor programs to specific customers.

Companies should evaluate their programs after a set amount of time. Most importantly, they should remove any pieces that are not functional and add any that would have been beneficial.

Pros for Delta Loyalty Program

  • Free and easy to join. Simply click on the link that says, “It’s free to join” and fill out the form with your personal information.
  • Digital Optimization – Easy to use. Points are digitally calculated when you make purchases.
  • Simple to understand how you are earning points.
  • There are a variety of ways to earn points. You don’t need to be taking flights all the time to earn another flight. You can earn flights simply by paying for your purchases with a credit card.
  • Rewards are valued and tailored. When you earn a flight, you can determine when and where you will travel to on your free flight. You can also use those miles that you earn to upgrade your seat for more leg room or move to first class.
  • Email reminders of SkyMiles benefits, offers and customer service experience surveys.
  • The loyalty program does get better the more the customer participates in it. As you spend more, you earn more points and trips.

Cons for Delta Loyalty Program

  • Lacks a bit in connecting with its customers. It does so through emails.
  • No real emotional connection.
  • Earning points is solely based on making purchases.

Want to learn more about setting up a loyalty program for your business? Click here to learn How to Use CandyBar to Run a Loyalty Program for Your Business.


Delta Loyalty Program: Examples of A Well Structured Program

Melinda Curle

Posted by Melinda Curle