Delta Air Lines

Delta to allow Medallion Upgrades on Delta One (domestic / day of departure only)

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At the end of last week, Delta announced that they were launching their Delta One (business class) flat-bed product on three new routes beginning next April:

  • Boston and Los Angeles
  • New York-JFK and San Diego, Seattle
  • New York-JFK and Las Vegas, starting May 1, 2018

While I was initially impressed they would serve new markets with this premium product and that they see the need to compete for that premium traveler against other airlines scaling up their transcontinental premium products (JetBlue, notably, has been rapidly scaling the markets they serve with their impressive Mint premium cabin), I then remembered that Delta blocks Medallion member upgrades on their current transcon Delta One routes such as JFK-LAX/SFO. As someone that flies NYC-LA regularly, I’m always hesitant to book Delta for a paid coach fare, because I know my Gold Medallion status can’t score me that coveted upgrade on the 5-6 hour flight.

Delta One on an LAX-JFK flight

In fact, I just matched my Delta Gold status to Alaska Airlines’ MVP status figuring I that with Virgin and Alaska now integrated, that might be a better way to fly cross-country (beginning early next year, upgrades will be available on the ex-Virgin routes for Alaska elite members), especially given how much I like dealing with Alaska Airlines in general and how much more valuable their frequent flyer miles are when compared to a Skymile.

And Delta has done much to erode trust in recent years, most importantly by eliminating award charts and becoming famous for devaluing the Skymiles program with no notice (for example, by charging significantly more Skymiles to fly a partner airline within 21 days of departure).

So you’ll forgive me, then, if when I read a Delta press release about an enhancement, I am skeptical.

Yet, this move seems to be a genuine upgrade for their most frequent flyers:

From the press releaseStarting April 1, 2018, Delta Sky Miles Medallion Members will be eligible for unlimited day-of-departure Complimentary Upgrades to the Delta One cabin on all domestic flights, including Hawaii.

What this means is that now, instead of flying with empty seats in the pointy end of the plane and valued Medallion members in the back of the bus, they will upgrade Medallion members (in the standard priority order) on the day of departure. It appears that some will happen automagically and some will be held for battlefield upgrades at the gate (which makes sense for operational reasons, as someone may want to buy a ticket very last minute).


Will this increase your loyalty to Delta? Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.