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Surprise! Delta nixes online booking bonus

For some years now, the major airlines have used frequent flyer miles to train consumers to conduct as many transactions as possible directly with the airlines, on their websites.

In particular, the online booking bonus—typically 500 miles for reservations made on the airlines’ own websites—has been around since 1997, so long that many consumers have come to see it as a permanent feature rather than a limited-time offer.

So, many Delta customers will be disappointed to learn that, effective August 14, there will be no more bonus for flights booked at

But the real story here isn’t the end of a favorite promotion. What’s noteworthy, and most chilling, is Delta’s communication of the change. Delta’s announcement of the new era of bonus-less booking consisted of … silence. No advance notice whatever. You expected bonus miles with that? Sorry, we changed our mind.

As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this is entirely consistent with Delta’s recent communications strategy. The airline has surreptitiously rolled out several consumer-unfriendly changes this month, apparently hoping that no one would notice.

This is nothing more than the old “bury the bad news” approach to corporate communications. It may be legal, but it’s hardly ethical.

Delta’s customers deserve better. Much better.

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