Complimentary upgrades for frequent flyers are back at Delta, but it’s not to make the customers happy.
Frequent flyers probably remember the recent change to Delta Air Lines’ upgrade policy, when the company decided it would no longer give complimentary upgrades on most premium transcontinental routes. But there’s good news now! The complimentary upgrades are back, and now even apply to the lie-flat seats.
There’s a catch, though. The upgrades will go to high-tier Diamond Elite SkyMiles members first, so those just getting started in the program likely won’t see an upgrade. And, the upgrades will only happen on the actual day of travel and won’t advance-clear. The goal, it seems, is to have every premium cabin seat full with either a passenger who paid for it, or with an Elite member who earned it.
It’s good news for the customers, showing that Delta is looking to bring more perks back to its loyalty program members – perks that were once reduced in order to raise profits. But it also shows that Delta might be motivated by competition among other airlines rather than straight-out attempts to make customers happy.
The return of free upgrades, Skift surmises, gives Delta an edge over other airlines like JetBlue and United. American already gives free upgrades to loyalty members, but it prioritizes the passengers who spend more over ones at the same tier with less of a financial investment in past or current flights. Skift’s Grant Martin thinks that once the competitor airlines ante up and meet Delta on the complimentary upgrades level, the airline will continue with another new or resurfaced perk to keep just above the competition.