Writer's note: Glenny Balls had a different take on this story earlier today. You can read that here.
About a week ago, Delta Airlines announced a multi-year partnership with Tom Brady. He was made a "strategic advisor" and, while nobody knows exactly what that means, we can guess he'll be speaking at glossy corporate retreats and offering power point presentations filled with ill-fitting acronyms like S.O.A.R. (Seize Opportunities, Abolish Racism) and C.R.U.I.S.E (Compete, Rise, Upstage, Internalize, See, Embody).
Yesterday, Delta announced a slew of changes to how flyers will achieve status starting in 2024:
I've been obsessed with airline status for a while now. I wrote a blog about my journey towards Delta's Diamond status back in April:
I'm on my way, but it's going to be close this year. I may have to take a flight to LAX, hop off the plane, buy a nudie mag for Glenny at the Hudson News, and come right back to put me over the top.
If I don't achieve Diamond, I'm going to be destroyed. I have done everything I possibly can to earn that black belt of air travel. I've spent exorbitant amounts of money on my Amex Delta reserve card; I've exclusively flown Delta even when other airlines had better flight options; I've upgraded myself to more expensive seats to earn more MQDs. The chase is on, and if I fall short, I… I'll die.
For this appears to be the last year where Diamond will even be a realistic goal. And I blame that on Tom Brady. Is it a coincidence that within his first week of being a "strategic partner," Delta has obfuscated their awards system and seemingly made it much harder to have Sky Club access? Sure, they say they've streamlined the tracking into one category—Medallion Qualifying Dollars. But how on earth are the rollover MQMs converting? What help, if any, is having the Delta Reserve card, aka Daddy Purp?
Of course Tom waltzed in to Delta CEO Ed Bastian's office and told him the first thing they need to do is make the lounges more exclusive. To do so, let's push the diamond status goalposts another 200 yards down the field, said Tom. I know this because Tom is probably obligated to make at least one appearance on a commercial Delta flight per year, just as Lebron probably had to drive a Kia once a year when he was partnered with them. And for that single, miserable flying experience, Tom will want to be in the Delta Lounge with as few Glenny Balls-s as possible (no offense Glenny, but also offense). He'll want a crisp Wall Street Journal in first class, a chilly Pellegrino, and some unsalted almonds while he's surrounded by those who have actually earned their place there.
People like me. Tom, I'll be cool man. Just let me in bro. I get you.