Customer loyalty in the airline industry is an ongoing challenge. In recent years, many airlines implemented fundamental shifts of their loyalty programs, basing them on ticket price, rather than distance flown.

For many frequent fliers of any airline, the major shift to a points-per-dollar system−meaning that customers will accumulate points based on the price of a ticket, regardless of the flight’s distance−doesn’t sit well.

As a result, airlines are working hard to retain their most loyal customers. Take, for example, Delta Air Lines, where officials wanted to reach out to the Silver elite members of their SkyMiles loyalty program and create a better, more memorable customer experience.

“We are constantly listening to member feedback and looking at ways to make the SkyMiles program more simple and more rewarding for our Medallion members,” Anthony Black, General Manager of Corporate Communications for Delta Air Lines, told Loyalty360. “Historically, we only offered upgrades on award tickets to Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallions. Upon evaluation, we wanted to extend this benefit to Silvers as well. We want award redemption to be a celebrated moment. No better way to celebrate than to be eligible for a First Class seat when you are traveling on your well-deserved award ticket.”

A member of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program earns Silver elite status after he or she flies 25,000 miles and spends $3,000 during a calendar year.

Since Oct. 10, 2016, Silver Medallion Members are eligible for complimentary upgrades to First Class on Award Travel, 24 hours prior to departure.

“Our No. 1 goal is to reward our members for their loyalty, make our policies simpler to understand, and celebrate award redemption,” Black explained. “Our Medallions and SkyMiles members are our best customers and every day we strive to make sure we earn their continued loyalty and business.”

Keeping pace with volumes of customer data is also an ongoing task.

“The airline business is robust with data,” Black explained. “We are continually finding new ways to use that data to better understand our customers and tailor their Delta experience to their needs, wants, and behaviors. We want Delta to be our customers’ airline of choice and we greatly value our customers who continually choose Delta for their travel. This view hasn’t changed much over the years. We do, however, look beyond just flight activity when we think about loyalty. We want our members to be loyal to Delta, both on the ground and in the air, through our many co-brand, hotel, car, and retail partnerships. We look at many metrics including retention, share of wallet, and member satisfaction.”

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