n1805bn
Topic Author
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 12:15 am

Free Upgrades on Delta

Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:19 pm

As a Delta DDMF, the single biggest perk for me is complimentary upgrades. I recently realized that even though I fly weekly, I haven't had a complimentary upgrade in months, and probably haven't had one clear five days out in about a year. I did a quick bit of googling and stumbled on this: [https://thepointsguy.com/news/free-upgrades-on-delta-are-becoming-even-harder-to-come-by/].

I'm curious to understand where Delta is going with this. Obviously they want to make money, and they should. And I also understand why they significantly raised the bar to achieve DDMF as a way to reduce the size of the group. But at the point where the perks of achieving a certain status level are no longer really available, they cease to be perks. Eventually DDMFs will have this epiphany, and stop jumping through hoops to maintain that status. If most DDMFs buy F/J anyway, then I can see where there is no real impact to Delta. But for anyone who buys coach and simply flies a lot, this is a significant shift.

Anyone have insight as to why the shift?
 
wv399
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:32 pm

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:36 pm

Ed Bastian stated some time ago that the company's goal was to actually sell the product and not just give it away. To do so, prices were reduced in First and Delta One and the website tweaked to make it easier to purchase an upgrade. The SkyMiles program was "enhanced" to allow upgrades to be bought with miles. His changes have worked, and now there are far fewer seats available to offer to Elites as an upgrade. People have also started booking directly into Comfort Plus since they know an upgrade is unlikely there as well, another hit to Elite status. At least you can still use the SkyPriority line (for now).
 
n1805bn
Topic Author
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 12:15 am

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Tue Aug 06, 2019 6:17 pm

Your points are all correct. Here's the question: does Delta believe that this trade-off is sustainable?
 
wv399
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:32 pm

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:21 pm

I believe they think so since the front cabins and Comfort + are relatively full of paying passengers, and every part of Delta needs to be fully revenue generating. Delta has also been the leader among legacy carriers in making changes to the frequent flyer program. But it devalues the loyalty of Elites, and gives other carriers the chance to steal their best customers through status matches. Especially for those not hub-captive. I guess they expect AA and UA to follow their lead as they usually do. This is a revenue passenger extension of the DeltaOne "buddy pass war" started by Richard Anderson. On a flight to Paris, he found his neighbors sitting there flying on buddy passes. After that buddy pass riders were prohibited from F/J cabins. He even started a task force to root out fraudulent sales of passes and quickly fired the perpetrators.
 
upperdeckfan
Posts: 899
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:59 am

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:30 am

n1805bn wrote:
Your points are all correct. Here's the question: does Delta believe that this trade-off is sustainable?


As said, it's highly likely to see AA and UA follow this path. Once it happens, market get use to the new scenario and settles down.

My guess is that free upgrades in US legacies will become exceptional like everywhere else in the world, not a matter of if but when. If a FF wants to seat in the front, spend the miles.
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deltaguy767
Posts: 669
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:32 am

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:47 pm

wv399 wrote:
I believe they think so since the front cabins and Comfort + are relatively full of paying passengers, and every part of Delta needs to be fully revenue generating. Delta has also been the leader among legacy carriers in making changes to the frequent flyer program. But it devalues the loyalty of Elites, and gives other carriers the chance to steal their best customers through status matches. Especially for those not hub-captive. I guess they expect AA and UA to follow their lead as they usually do. This is a revenue passenger extension of the DeltaOne "buddy pass war" started by Richard Anderson. On a flight to Paris, he found his neighbors sitting there flying on buddy passes. After that buddy pass riders were prohibited from F/J cabins. He even started a task force to root out fraudulent sales of passes and quickly fired the perpetrators.


The latter part of your statement is false. The current policy still permits buddies to ride in Delta F/J without the employee flying. Rumor has it that will be changing but that has still not occurred for nearly two years now. DL's pass privileges are some of the most employee-friendly in the industry.
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stl07
Posts: 1512
Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 8:57 pm

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Fri Aug 09, 2019 2:15 am

This is the primary reason why I have not switched over from AA. Every single flight, I am guaranteed either PE or MCE (equivalent to comfort), but they upgrade the Explats to F on basically every flight
Interesting how every thread is spammed with "bring back paid membership, there are too many spammers"
 
n1805bn
Topic Author
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 12:15 am

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:23 pm

stl07 wrote:
This is the primary reason why I have not switched over from AA. Every single flight, I am guaranteed either PE or MCE (equivalent to comfort), but they upgrade the Explats to F on basically every flight


That was my next thought: is it any better on AA or UA? I've heard mixed reviews, but honestly the "loyalty" clearly runs in one direction so I'm open to alternatives!
 
Cubsrule
Posts: 13844
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 pm

Re: Free Upgrades on Delta

Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:58 pm

upperdeckfan wrote:
n1805bn wrote:
Your points are all correct. Here's the question: does Delta believe that this trade-off is sustainable?


As said, it's highly likely to see AA and UA follow this path. Once it happens, market get use to the new scenario and settles down.

My guess is that free upgrades in US legacies will become exceptional like everywhere else in the world, not a matter of if but when. If a FF wants to seat in the front, spend the miles.


UA already is following. F can be had for as little as a $100 premium on some itineraries. I recently did YUL-ORD-BNA in F for $325 with advance purchase. It was about $115 more than Y and not a hard choice at that price point.
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