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.

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