Assumption 1: We are all different types of travelers traveling for different reasons.
Assumption 2: I will only ever know what is best for myself and my travel needs.
So what do I, as a business traveler primarily flying on fares purchased by my company, think about the minimum spending requirements on Delta and United? At first I really thought it was great. In theory it should thin the ranks and make mileage running less lucrative for mileage runners unless they have a credit card to waive the minimum spend. I thought this would mean that if I remain a Gold on Delta for 2015 (although at the current trajectory I’m going to finally make Platinum and this may be my new norm) that upgrades would be more prevalent since there would be less people mileage running to the top. Then I really thought about it…
Sure, there are other business travelers like myself who easily make the MQD for Platinum or Diamond even when only flying the miles/segments for Gold. I could easily MR and pick up a higher status level. The truth is, many of the people I’m competing with for upgrades are in the same boat. It may thin out the ranks *overall*, but the 7 am CLT-ATL flight on Monday will still primarily be business travelers who can meet the MQD. The people who make status purely on mileage running or leisure travel often already plan their travel around routes that are easy to upgrade. Monday morning isn’t part of that and neither are Thursday or Friday afternoon.
Could fewer elites mean more meaningful benefits? Maybe but doubtful
Will the elite ranks really shrink? Maybe relatively, but travel as a whole is picking up with the economy and business travel is no exception. I doubt by the time this gets implemented that there is a decrease.
So, to me this is neutral. I won’t drop in status due to not meeting MQD spending. I doubt I’ll get upgraded more than I currently do. I also doubt Delta will introduce new perks (or reintroduce perks that were removed like less restrictive SDC rules). So there is no real upside to me, no downside to me, but a downside to many flyers out there who fly many more miles than I do but do so frugally.
Delta is punishing loyalty to be loyal and encouraging infrequent flyers to get the credit card to get free bags, special check-in, and early boarding instead of Silver status.
I believe many have said it on FlyerTalk in various programs, but many programs are really pretending like the 25,000 mile/30 segment status level does not exist and I think elimination of that tier may be the next thing to go.