ATLANTA, GA – Delta Air Lines will undergo a major refreshment — teaming up with American Express to start an all First Class airline launching January 1, 2025.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the airline will sever ties with its SkyTeam alliance while still maintaining ownership stakes in Air France-KLM, Aeromexico, and Virgin Atlantic.
The announcement was made this morning during a joint press conference held at American Express’s headquarters in New York City.
“Delta and American Express are two companies best suited to focus on people who live and actually afford a premium lifestyle,” said American Express’s Vice President of New Travel Products and Experiences Danielle O’Shea. “And those are the members who will love our new product, American Express Airlines by Delta.” The airline will be branded “AEAxD.”
Travelers must hold at least one of the products currently marketed as Delta Reserve cards in order to purchase tickets for AEAxD flights. AEAxD reservations must be purchased with American Express cards, as well. The Delta Reserve cards are expected to be rebranded as “American Express Reserve Cards.”
The Delta Medallion program will become the “Amex Centurion Status Experience.” Details on the new loyalty effort were not provided.
But a loyalty program may be worthless. AEAxD said in a press release that there will be no complimentary upgrades.
“People who sit in First Class should be able to afford it,” the release read. “Therefore, the amazing AEAxD experience will be offered only to people who pay for and appreciate the luxury AEAxD will provide.”
Delta’s current Deputy Director of Onboard Experience, Worldwide, Jason Loudermilk, will be promoted to AEAxD Director of Onboard Experience, effective January 1, 2023.
The article you are reading is satire…haha
“The suites currently known as ‘Delta One’ will be refreshed and rebranded ‘Amex One,’” Mr. Loudermilk told a group of reporters earlier today. “Even the regional jets will be Amex One only. I think those smaller aircraft will feature around a dozen or so premium seats. Whether a flight is 25 minutes or 25 hours, our customers who pay a premium deserve the best.”
He reinforced that all AEAxDs plane will be outfitted only with Amex One seating and services. No other product will be offered — including Delta Premium Select, Comfort+, or Main Cabin.
“Let’s face it. Coach is dead,” Mr. Loudermilk said. “This is a post-COVID-19 world. People want to travel in style and comfortably. For those who feel economy class is the only option, there are several airlines ready to welcome them. We sincerely hope they enjoy Spirit’s Big Front Seat or Southwest’s A-List status.”
The new airline’s announcement is particularly interesting, given that Delta just announced a slew of entrance policy changes to its Sky Club airport lounges. Some Delta flyers noted the new policies — which take effect in early 2023 — were announced so late this year.
“Bait and switch,” said Delta passenger Sarah Long, as she waited at LaGuardia airport for her flight home to Chicago. “I guess I fell for it. I probably wouldn’t have chased Diamond status had I known Delta was going to punish me for it.”
Mr. Loudermilk acknowledged the timing.
“We understand the Sky Club entrance enhancement announcement was late in the year,” he said. “But people wanted answers and we delivered.”
He added, “That’s why we’re being proactive and making this announcement now. The original plan was to drop the news sometime late in the third quarter of 2024. But because both Delta and American Express are so customer-oriented, we felt this was the right move.”
“We heard all the complaints from people who think loyalty is important. You’re a Diamond Medallion. Big deal. You think Atlanta cares?” said a Delta executive who spoke on condition of anonymity, referencing Delta’s home city. “If you’re a Diamond Medallion who doesn’t buy First Class, you’re not valuable to us. And you’re really on our naughty list if you don’t have one of the Delta American Express cards. Don’t even get me started on the Platinum people.”
“Want a Delta Flight Fuel fruit and cheese plate with your w(h)ine?” said another corporate staffer. “The complaining all these people did in ‘travel blog’ comments was hilarious. If they think they can sit in coach and should still get lounge access, they should get a Priority Pass. Sit and cry in one of those lounges that don’t compare to our Sky Clubs.”
An on-sale date hasn’t yet been announced for AEAxD flights.