Delta Airlines, in cooperation with their private charter arm Delta Private Jets, will soon be offering those who hold a Delta Medallion Status the opportunity to upsell certain domestic segments to a private jet connection.
This initiative will initially be limited to routes around Delta’s East Coast hubs and improve gradually. Filling up empty first class seats by selling the passenger upgrades ahead of the flight or during check-in (instead of giving them all away for free as Medallion upgrades) is not new and has proven to be quite successful for Delta. Now they are taking it a step further and attempt to fill so called ’empty legs’ of their subsidiary Delta Private Jets by offering passengers on specific routes, the pricing ranging from 300 US$ to 800 US$ per one way leg. Only Delta SkyMiles Medallion status holders are eligible to purchase these upgrades and they will not earn additional mileage.
Bloomberg Business News reported in detail about the initiative (access article here).
The upgrades could also help Delta quell one of the thorniest—and costliest—problems in private aviation, known as “empty legs,” or the need to reposition a jet without having a customer headed to that particular location. These inefficient flights account for roughly a third of all private jet flights, despite years of effort by the industry to minimize them. …
Most of the upgrades will involve travel scheduled the next day, although Delta Private Jets said it would have some flights that offer travelers as much as 48 hours’ notice. … it plans to begin mainly with flights among Atlanta, New York, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, near the unit’s Erlanger (Ky.) headquarters. …
The company also had to receive Department of Transportation approval for its plans; it is allowed to fly commercial passengers four days per week, Tuesday-Friday, and must submit for review new cities it wants to add. The upgrade program, for now, will include only domestic flights.
The article outlines some important limitations. For one, the route availability will be regionally limited, the other is that the DOT approval for the programs operation only includes flights during the week (namely Tuesday to Friday). That means, if you would like to go for one of these Upgrades booking flights with these parameters will increase your chances, respectively by not adhering to them it will eliminate your chances.
Delta Private Jets was founded in 1984 and currently maintains a fleet of 66 aircraft in sizes ranging from the Citation Ultra to a Falcon 900.
Especially for aviation enthusiasts this will be a great experience and I dare to say a good investment. Now, it’s a bit unclear what would determine the spread between 300-800 US$. This could be original fare class, distance, timing, aircraft type or pure luck. Most definitely it would be a better investment then upgrading to a regular domestic First Class on Delta.
I have flown a similar product with Lufthansa Private Jets before which was not at all glamorous. However, judging by the description, aircraft types and experience of Delta Private Jets I’m pretty excited to try it myself.