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Delta’s SkyMiles program is dedicated to choice and customer satisfaction, CEO Ed Bastian writes.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was written for Delta's August Sky magazine.

Thirty-five years ago, Delta launched SkyMiles, one of the world’s first airline loyalty programs. Since then, our business has changed dramatically. However, the goal of the SkyMiles program has never changed—to reward those customers who choose to travel with Delta.

I sat down with Sandeep Dube, Delta's Vice President of Customer Engagement and Loyalty, to discuss the current state of SkyMiles and how we are using member feedback to improve customer satisfaction and shape the future of the program.

Ed Bastian: Sandeep, our SkyMiles program has evolved over the past few years along with Delta’s ongoing transformation, and it has meant a lot of new benefits, particularly when it comes to our expanding global footprint.

Sandeep DubeSandeep Dube: That’s right, Ed. Our members now have access to award travel to more than 1,000 destinations worldwide on Delta and our global partners. Furthermore, we continue to add new ways for customers to use miles, including offering the flexibility to book one-way awards, combine miles and cash, access Delta Sky Clubs and upgrade to premium seats. Our members like having the power of choice, and we will continue to provide more in the future.

EB: And those benefits are being enjoyed by more people than ever, given the program’s unprecedented growth.

SD: In 2016, we are expecting more than 3 million new members to join SkyMiles. Our program is attractive to both occasional and frequent travelers because, unlike our competitors, our miles never expire. Our overall award bookings this summer are at record levels, and the average award price is down nearly 10 percent.

EB: It’s great to see that award prices are down, but what are your plans for the future of the program?

SD:  We are focused on improving member satisfaction and providing best-in-class service. We continually listen to our customers who tell us that airline loyalty programs, including our own, are too complex and difficult to understand. So our focus will be on simplifying SkyMiles and making it easier to interact with through enhanced functionality.

EB: What else are you hearing from our customers?

SD:  Our SkyMiles members want to see more tangible rewards for their loyalty, and we are working on achieving just that. One example is the recent launch of our partnership with CLEAR, offering preferential pricing for SkyMiles members and free membership for Diamond medallions.

EB: I love that we are listening and responding to our customers and that they can look forward to even more improvements in the future. Thank you, Sandeep, and thanks to our readers for flying Delta.

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