Delta Air Lines knew about Daniel Grossman’s life-altering bike accident in northern Minnesota before some of his friends did.
Grossman, a Mayo Clinic emergency-room doctor, had been paralyzed. He called the Atlanta-based airline from his Minneapolis hospital bed to seek a refund on upcoming flights he had booked with his parents.
Delta canceled the trips. Later, it asked Grossman, who was a million-mile flier, to help shape a new policy so that frequent fliers whose travel was interrupted by a life event could regain their perks.
The policy, called “Reclaim Your Status” and announced this week, is a first for Delta and perhaps the most expansive by a U.S. airline seeking to retain members of loyalty programs.
Delta will now accommodate customers who become a new parent, care for an aging family member or recover from a serious illness and may not be traveling as often as a result. Other life events, such as getting a degree, moving or changing jobs, will also be considered by the airline.
Under the program, Delta’s elite Medallion status passengers — Diamond, Platinum, Gold or Silver — who had their travel disrupted can apply for three complimentary months at their former status level. If the person travels enough during that time to rack up 25% of the qualifying dollars it takes annually to maintain that level, they can keep their status through the following year.
Delta said it will respond to all applications within a week or two and it encouraged passengers with other reasons for disrupted travel to test the program.
“Loyalty is a two-way street and, as a leading consumer brand, we are always looking for new ways to take care of our customers”, Sandeep Dube, a Delta senior vice president, said in a statement.
Airline-loyalty programs have devoted followers, with some going to extraordinary lengths to maintain their status. Airlines value, and profit from, those travelers.
“Elite status is a bit of a drug and you might travel more to maintain that status,” said Brendan Dorsey, associate editor at the Points Guy, a website focused on travel credit cards and building airline miles and points…