Delta SkyMiles really has a thing for shifting their upgrade policy around and just sent out another email to their Medallion Elites that further changes for Elite Upgrades will be forthcoming.
Some of these new changes are not all negative though as Delta will reinstate the benefit that traveling companions will clear with the highest SkyMiles status of either companion.
When Delta announced their last round of changes on the upgrades in early May we wrote an update about it here on LoyaltyLobby (access here).
It was already made public that full fare Y tickets would no longer receive instant upgrades to First Class.
Now there have been further amendments to the upgrade policy, (accessible here) on the Delta website.
A big problem for travelers was that when traveling with a companion of a different, lesser status on the same reservation they would clear upgrades at different times and may be be split up due to that if one gets the upgrade and the other passenger does not. This can still happen if there is only one seat available for upgrading but the new mechanism essentially ensures that two passengers are tied to each other on the upgrade list without other passengers in between them.
This is what Deltas email said:
To be clear, this used to be a benefit that was taken away previously and has now been reinstated after much protest from members who encountered issues which I described above.
The website says:
For flights departing on or after April 30, 2016, we have simplified the clearance priority for Complimentary Upgrades as we strive to offer the best elite travel experience for our members. This new upgrade priority better recognizes the loyalty of our Medallion members, SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express Card Members and Delta Corporate Travelers. Delta Corporate Travelers include passengers traveling on a ticket that includes their eligible employer’s Corporate Ticket Designator.
As a reminder, members are eligible for Complimentary Upgrades to Delta Comfort+ on:
– all flights within the U.S. 50 and Canada
– flights within select Asia Pacific markets and select Latin America / Caribbean regions departing on or after September 19, 2016
For flights within Latin America / Caribbean markets serviced with our Delta One™ product and select Asia Pacific markets, including China and Hong Kong, and other markets such as transatlantic flights, Medallion members will continue to upgrade to Delta Comfort+ via the seat map.
Another issue and point of confusion on domestic flights are these mentioned ‘Upgrades’ to Economy Comfort+ as these seats can’t be selected upon booking but are processed just like First Class upgrades through an automated process. Especially annoying is that seat changes are limited and you might end up in a middle seat of Comfort+.
The order in which upgrades are processed is now:
Basic Economy (E) fares are still not eligible for paid or Medallion Complimentary Upgrades, regardless of Medallion or other elite status though.
Delta is trying to iron out the kinks that angered their frequent fliers while at the same time continuing their quest to maximize revenue by offering paid upgrades to customers which would in any way trump elites on whatever wait list as the purchases are confirmed instantly. And these ‘for sale’ upgrades are becoming more, not less especially because some of the prices are not at all unreasonable (while other are completely out of line – I have seen a 1,410$ up-sell price for a flight from Atlanta to Detroit).
This aura of uncertainty has lead some top tier elites to actually pay for upgrades which they would otherwise get for free. What we take from this is that it has certainly become more competitive in the upgrade market and the cushy life for airline top tiers is in danger of being squashed by those who are willing to pay up for a better seat. Since all of the airlines are doing it I don’t see any danger of losing Elites to the competition as the grass in this case isn’t greener on the other side.