Delta terminates musician’s 40-year SkyMiles contract

In one of the more curious examples of customer service, Delta Airlines has decided to cancel the SkyMiles membership for a customer who has used them for 40 years. One can debate the validity of a SkyMiles account for a cello (personally, I’m for it since the owner had to purchase normal tickets) but to close the account of both the cello and the owner without any discussion is harsh.

Delta Airlines via Shutterstock

At a minimum, if Delta wanted to terminate the SkyMiles contract for the cello, they could have handled this a lot better for a long time customer. I wonder if they also terminated the contracts of the Delta staff who also went along with booking the ticket for the cello and checking in the cello.

Delta leads the way, again, in customer service gone wrong. Bizarre.

That ended with a terse letter from the airline in January – an incident Harrell shared on his blog on Monday in a post titled, “No miles for you!”

“It has come to our attention that you have continued to earn miles for your cello even after you were advised in 2001 that this was not permitted,” the letter, signed by SkyMiles auditor Jonsey Vee, reads.

It goes on to say that Delta had closed the cello’s account and terminated Harrell’s membership in the program. All of the accumulated miles in both accounts — several hundred thousand in all – were gone, Harrell said. In addition, he could never reopen a new SkyMiles account.

Note from John: I also have to pay $250 to fly my dog with me to Chicago when I visit for the holidays, and, to add insult to injury, she counts as my carry-on bag (so I lose a carry-on, and pay $250 to put my “carry-on” under my seat). And I don’t get miles for her. At some point, if the airlines are going to treat things as people, then we should get the benefits of people.

Of course, the only things the airlines treat as people are objects.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

Share This Post

  • condew

    Too bad the cello isn’t a corporation, “corporations are people, my friend.”

  • RepubAnon

    If I were, say, United Airlines, I’d sign the cellist to an advertising contract.

    Why CAN’T one get frequent flyer miles for a full-fare ticket just because it was for one’s cello?

  • BlueIdaho

    Please add United/Continental to your list.

  • Miro

    Delta (Northwest) has ALWAYS been classy. [snort!] I haven’t forgotten flying them once over ten years ago and the mood was distinctly different than the airline I usually fly.

  • Papa Bear

    I think that was on my grandson’s SAT!

  • mr_ed

    At least airfare for himself and his instrument are deductible. Owners of smaller instruments don’t have to buy seats for them. A cellist does. His auto is also deductible, as is one for a bassist or harpist.

  • Dakotahgeo

    They should ground Delta Airlines in its entirety, the cruel bast*rds!!!

  • caphillprof

    Under Citizens Uniteds, the airlines treat themselves as people.

  • bejammin075

    It’s like riding that thing Mr. Garrison invented in that episode of South Park

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Thanks for reminding me again why I won’t fly anywhere unless I have no choice.

  • mf_roe

    But it keeps us SAFE!

  • Tatts

    That’s not just any musician; that’s Lynn Harrell. He’s one of the top cellists in the world.

    Smart move. Stay classy, Delta!

  • nicho

    Flying is the US is like spending a day in jail.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GFBZOJYZWPUZ5TT3N2WA6VJN5M W

    Hey John! You’re flying DELTA with your dog, right? I’m in the same boat. I have to pay $125 each way ($250) for my little dog that I carry on as well as another $50 to check my luggage since I can’t handle luggage and him at the same time (even though they are charging me as if he’s already excess baggage). This is such a freaking scam it drives me bonkers. I am paying almost as much for the ticket as I am in fees! He used to be $25 each way just a couple of years ago. PLUS all the people who are carrying on their luggage to avoid fees are just increasing all the extra TSA security expenses that are pawned off on the taxpayers. So airlines have figured out how to make more $$ in fees while at same time pushing off security and handling expenses onto the taxpayer. I actually wrote my congresswoman about this to no avail. I hope you write something about his – these airline fees are out of control!

  • http://adgitadiaries.blog-city.com karmanot

    Don’t get me started on Delta—-the worst, except for American, Blue etc. etc.

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