DL upgrade policy -- your thoughts?

Old Jul 25, 11, 2:26 pm
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DL upgrade policy -- your thoughts?

Greetings, fellow flyers! My first post here, and I am a little worried that I will be skirting a potentially sensitive issue. Someone touched upon this topic just a few days ago, but I cannot find the thread any longer.

We certainly all enjoy upgrades, and as DM, I have had nearly 100% upgrade success during the last 2 years, both on short haul and on t-con flights, mostly from mid-level fares, and sometime from YBMs (I seldom end up getting the lowest fares). I often pay for D or I classes too, especially on the t-con trips when I need to make sure that I can work or rest. However, on several occasions now, Delta downgraded aircraft on their t-con routes (to older 757 without AVOD and power), resulting in a new seat assignment -- usually the last row in the corner, no recline, next to toilet, etc. Surely, also no meal of my choice by the time they get to my row (would it be that hard to ask a DM on a paid F/D/I fare for his choice of a meal first?). The last-minute upgrades at the gate, often Gold and Silver Medallions, end up with better seats and better service. That's just plain wrong.

In my opinion, only top tier (DM/PM) Medallions should have access to complimentary upgrades from lowest fares. The current policy of upgrading anyone and everyone really dilutes and devalues Delta's First class product. I, for sure, will never pay a First class fare any longer, I just see no reason for doing that; I would get the same service anyway with a lowest coach fare.

I do not mean to be arrogant and insensitive (and expect the wrath of the FO and GMs for this post), but isn't Delta's current upgrade policy just wrong and makes little business sense too? They are loosing paid premium fares (like myself) and gain lowest-paying coach passengers who might come to them hoping for an upgrade.

I am not old, but probably old-fashioned believing that we should be getting what we are paying for, not "everything and for free." The perks should be reserved for the most loyal customers, and now they have become almost an entitlement for anyone who has taken a few flights and got a right credit card from American Express. What do my fellow delta flyers think?
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Old Jul 25, 11, 2:36 pm
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You'll find that AA thinks like you do. DL (and NW before it), and United (copying acquired CO) reject that line of thinking. Presumably they, too, have reams of data and business analysts confident of their approach.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 2:38 pm
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Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
Greetings, fellow flyers! My first post here, and I am a little worried that I will be skirting a potentially sensitive issue. Someone touched upon this topic just a few days ago, but I cannot find the thread any longer.

We certainly all enjoy upgrades, and as DM, I have had nearly 100% upgrade success during the last 2 years, both on short haul and on t-con flights, mostly from mid-level fares, and sometime from YBMs (I seldom end up getting the lowest fares). I often pay for D or I classes too, especially on the t-con trips when I need to make sure that I can work or rest. However, on several occasions now, Delta downgraded aircraft on their t-con routes (to older 757 without AVOD and power), resulting in a new seat assignment -- usually the last row in the corner, no recline, next to toilet, etc. Surely, also no meal of my choice by the time they get to my row (would it be that hard to ask a DM on a paid F/D/I fare for his choice of a meal first?). The last-minute upgrades at the gate, often Gold and Silver Medallions, end up with better seats and better service. That's just plain wrong.

In my opinion, only top tier (DM/PM) Medallions should have access to complimentary upgrades from lowest fares. The current policy of upgrading anyone and everyone really dilutes and devalues Delta's First class product. I, for sure, will never pay a First class fare any longer, I just see no reason for doing that; I would get the same service anyway with a lowest coach fare.

I do not mean to be arrogant and insensitive (and expect the wrath of the FO and GMs for this post), but isn't Delta's current upgrade policy just wrong and makes little business sense too? They are loosing paid premium fares (like myself) and gain lowest-paying coach passengers who might come to them hoping for an upgrade.

I am not old, but probably old-fashioned believing that we should be getting what we are paying for, not "everything and for free." The perks should be reserved for the most loyal customers, and now they have become almost an entitlement for anyone who has taken a few flights and got a right credit card from American Express. What do my fellow delta flyers think?
I'm not sure that I would agree, for the record I don't fly DL often, as anyone that is (really) competing for those upgrades are diamond or plats for the most part. those guys are probably being thrown a bone for those seats for all the flights they paid a grand for to say go ATL to MIA. For those flying a ton of miles, it pays to keep them happy
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Old Jul 25, 11, 2:43 pm
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As a DM who travels t-con (semi)frequently, I too have had nearly a 100% upgrade success as of late. Since my upgrade usually confirms 2-5 days prior to departure, I use Delta's website to evaluate my seat assignment and other available BE seats and change my seat to ensure I have the best of what is available. This is easy enough to do and rarely results in getting stuck in the rear corner with a seat that doesn't recline. It also ensures that I get my pick before the last minute silver and gold upgrades confirm.

As for priority seat assignments or diluting the product by offering these upgrades to all medallion statuses, I have mixed emotions. I should have enough miles by year end and with carry over miles to qualify as platinum and re-qualify for next year (at least 5 t-con ATL to Asia flights remaining this year). However, my job requirements don't have me flying this frequently every year. Rather it's usually cyclical and after the end of the year, I may not do enough t-cons for 2-3 years before I hit PM status again. But, I certainly fly enough every year to reach silver or gold easily. Since we all went through silver and gold to get where we are, I have no problem with the airlines offering upgrades to these flyers. After all, if I was a silver or gold, an upgrade, especially on a long haul, would further ensure my loyalty and have me wanting to fly DL again. Seems to be a smart business decision for the airlines to continue to build loyalty and also ensure that the flight isn't departing with a half empty FC or BE section.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 2:44 pm
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme View Post
You'll find that AA thinks like you do. DL (and NW before it), and United (copying acquired CO) reject that line of thinking. Presumably they, too, have reams of data and business analysts confident of their approach.
AA enjoys the boat load of money they earn off of charging fees. As much as people like to complain about DL fees, paying $60-$180 for each segment on AA to upgrade is no picnic. Doesn't matter how much you fly, you never earn enough stickers on AA to cover the number of stickers you need to use.

This is a key reason I do NOT fly AA (that plus crappy service and all around "flying bus" feeling), so that's the flipside of charging people - you may lose business.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 2:47 pm
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Welcome to flyertalk. Interesting and provocative first post. One of Deltaís key market differentiators is the UDU. There is history behind limitations on upgrade fare classes, see saveskymiles. In building the current business model, Delta has recognized the importance of loyalty through the different levels of SM and the corresponding perks. These include access to upgrades at earlier time periods. From your post you seem to be dissatisfied that your seat assignment is changed during IROPS. Many FTers recognize that there are certain seats that exist on almost all aircraft and select those seats to minimize disruptions during IROPS.

Another suggestion you post is that BIS MQMs should be treated differently than MQMs earned through credit card or bonuses. There are other threads that expound on the credit card customer having a higher contribution margin than BIS flyers. Delta canít be all things to all people but IMHO they do a good job of recognizing and rewarding loyalty based on the SM members business with DL. I would counter your position that low fare class GMs and FOs should be restricted from the front cabin. The loyalty and revenue these members provide is a key component of Deltaís success.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:01 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyAO2 View Post
Doesn't matter how much you fly, you never earn enough stickers on AA to cover the number of stickers you need to use.
.
That is not completely true. If you fly enough for ExPlat (100k) which is 25k less than DM all domestic UG's are free (I am at 100% so far).
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by jsmith50 View Post
After all, if I was a silver or gold, an upgrade, especially on a long haul, would further ensure my loyalty and have me wanting to fly DL again.
Like most DM/PM here, I was formerly FO and then GM. If DL's plan was as you described, it worked brilliantly on me just as it has on many others. As for the OP's concerns regarding seat assignments, etc in F, DL has done a good job of mitigating the issue with the staggered upgrade windows for the various medallion levels.

There are a lot of things about DL that many on FT have a beef with, but the u/g policy is one that seems to work well for most here as well as for DL.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:17 pm
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Welcome to FlyerTalk, glbetrotter! ^

Don't mean to get off to a bad start with you but I will disagree with most of what you say. Also a 2-yr DM who flies lots of t-cons (8 this year). As for changing equip, it is frustrating but it happens. I've been or more than a few 737/A320's already this year and long for the better-equipped 757's.

As for changing seats, you have some control here. All but one of my UG's came at the T-6 window so I can go into the DL site and change my seat long before the PM/GM/FO's receive their UG. With equip swaps a possibility -- which seems to be more common as some aircraft are upgraded -- select Row 3 if available and nothing past Row 4 so you don't accidentally get booted to the back. If you want first choice on food, make bulkhead your preference.

And I don't agree only top-tier Medallions should get UG's. As it is, lower tiers already have to wait longer than DM's and most of them only receive the seats that are left over. Also, many of them don't clear until the gate which means DL is still making those seats available to DM's who SDC. Since those seats in F would otherwise be empty, let the other elites have them. I don't see any dilution whatsoever.

Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
I am not old, but probably old-fashioned believing that we should be getting what we are paying for, not "everything and for free."
S'cuse me, getting what we are paying for? If all you want is what you pay for, then be content sitting in the back because all you paid for was a coach fare. I don't want what I paid for nor do I expect "everything for free." Don't know about you but I have never paid for an UG. What I pay for is a seat in Y but what I receive is a seat in F. No entitlement here, just more successful because my DM trumps most other elites. Sorry but I am fine with this system.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:22 pm
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Originally Posted by jsmith50 View Post
As a DM who travels t-con (semi)frequently, I too have had nearly a 100% upgrade success as of late. Since my upgrade usually confirms 2-5 days prior to departure, I use Delta's website to evaluate my seat assignment and other available BE seats and change my seat to ensure I have the best of what is available. This is easy enough to do and rarely results in getting stuck in the rear corner with a seat that doesn't recline. It also ensures that I get my pick before the last minute silver and gold upgrades confirm.

As for priority seat assignments or diluting the product by offering these upgrades to all medallion statuses, I have mixed emotions. I should have enough miles by year end and with carry over miles to qualify as platinum and re-qualify for next year (at least 5 t-con ATL to Asia flights remaining this year). However, my job requirements don't have me flying this frequently every year. Rather it's usually cyclical and after the end of the year, I may not do enough t-cons for 2-3 years before I hit PM status again. But, I certainly fly enough every year to reach silver or gold easily. Since we all went through silver and gold to get where we are, I have no problem with the airlines offering upgrades to these flyers. After all, if I was a silver or gold, an upgrade, especially on a long haul, would further ensure my loyalty and have me wanting to fly DL again. Seems to be a smart business decision for the airlines to continue to build loyalty and also ensure that the flight isn't departing with a half empty FC or BE section.
I agree on the first part. I should have checked, but it was a very busy trip, meetings-hotel-car-restaurant jumping, barely enough time to check my e-mails. Didn't even pay close attention to the seat assignment when I checked in on-line. The aircraft was apparently swapped almost a day prior.

As for the second part, I actually have no problem with a flight departing with empty FC/BE seats if the only way to fill them is to upgrade Silver or Gold Medallions who paid a fraction of what I did. Again, I just think everyone should get what they pay for, the perks should be occasional, not a rule.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Sez_Who View Post
Welcome to FlyerTalk, glbetrotter! ^

S'cuse me, getting what we are paying for? If all you want is what you pay for, then be content sitting in the back because all you paid for was a coach fare. I don't want what I paid for nor do I expect "everything for free." Don't know about you but I have never paid for an UG. What I pay for is a seat in Y but what I receive is a seat in F. No entitlement here, just more successful because my DM trumps most other elites. Sorry but I am fine with this system.
No, what I paid for was a D class $2,600 fare, and I ended up in a lousy seat in an old plane. Most of the cabin, just like you, paid their $500 and were enjoying better seats and service. Except that you were probably upgraded 5 days in advance, and FO and GMs were upgraded at the gate. This part of your post shows precisely what is wrong with the current system ...
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
In my opinion, only top tier (DM/PM) Medallions should have access to complimentary upgrades from lowest fares.
I would argue that this happens already, especially if you're flying from LAX or ATL or anywhere else where there are tons of elites. The UG list is long, but the ones getting them are DMs and PMs. You can follow the GM is the new FO threads on here.


Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
I do not mean to be arrogant and insensitive (and expect the wrath of the FO and GMs for this post), but isn't Delta's current upgrade policy just wrong and makes little business sense too? They are loosing paid premium fares (like myself) and gain lowest-paying coach passengers who might come to them hoping for an upgrade.
I've got to disagree with you here. There's way more of them than there are of you, so they could be making a lot of money off a larger group that pays less. So I don't know that it doesn't make business sense for them. That said, your point about not paying for a first class fare really depends--do you want to be guaranteed a seat in first class? If so, buy a J fare. If not, buy whatever fare you want and hope for an upgrade.


Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
I am not old, but probably old-fashioned believing that we should be getting what we are paying for, not "everything and for free." The perks should be reserved for the most loyal customers, and now they have become almost an entitlement for anyone who has taken a few flights and got a right credit card from American Express. What do my fellow delta flyers think?
See this argument a lot here on FT, but the bottom line is that is that people who are getting status on cards aren't flying as much as you, so they're not impacting you. It's highly unlikely people are getting to DM with a card. But even if they do, they're not flying 10 times a month, so the chances you're seeing them are pretty slim.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Sez_Who View Post
Welcome to FlyerTalk, glbetrotter! ^

And I don't agree only top-tier Medallions should get UG's. As it is, lower tiers already have to wait longer than DM's and most of them only receive the seats that are left over. Also, many of them don't clear until the gate which means DL is still making those seats available to DM's who SDC. Since those seats in F would otherwise be empty, let the other elites have them. I don't see any dilution whatsoever.
Sorry, I disagree. I see it as a fundamental inequality. Just because a $2K seat is empty, it should not be given away for an upgrade. Nice gesture, nice to be on the receiving end, but it is fundamentally wrong and is reflective of the current entitlement culture that has penetrated nearly every aspect of our lives. Simple as that.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
No, what I paid for was a D class $2,600 fare, and I ended up in a lousy seat in an old plane. Most of the cabin, just like you, paid their $500 and were enjoying better seats and service. Except that you were probably upgraded 5 days in advance, and FO and GMs were upgraded at the gate. This part of your post shows precisely what is wrong with the current system ...
If this is your gripe, wouldn't a better solution be for UGs to be doled out 30 minutes prior to the flight, rather than days prior? If you purchased your expensive seat and other DMs and PMs have already cleared, you're in the same boat. If all UGs are held until shortly before the flight, you would likely be first on the list. (Not that I'm in favor if this, it just seems you haven't chosen the right solution for the problem you expressed.)

Personally, if the seat is open in first, why shouldn't a GM or FO get it? Many GMs fly more than a single r/t each and every week.
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Old Jul 25, 11, 3:36 pm
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Originally Posted by glbetrotter View Post
Sorry, I disagree. I see it as a fundamental inequality. Just because a $2K seat is empty, it should not be given away for an upgrade. Nice gesture, nice to be on the receiving end, but it is fundamentally wrong and is reflective of the current entitlement culture that has penetrated nearly every aspect of our lives. Simple as that.
So how would you suggest they drive volume (THAT is the reason for a FF program...not high profitability)? I can see 2 sets of qualifiers Miles/$$ but if DL loses the FF'ers it banks on today to be repeat customers they stop filling planes and stop which prevents the possibility of actually selling a FC seat (12% actually pay for it) in the first place.
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