The general direction of frequent flyer programs has been downward. While airlines occasionally offer a carrot to improve the benefits, it’s much more common to get the stick. So even if the perk they add only affects a few people, it’s nice to get something.
Free Elite Upgrades on Domestic Delta One
One of the best perks of elite status on many airlines is free upgrades to either business class or premium economy seats. The upgrades apply to almost all domestic flights. I say “almost” because there are certain transcontinental routes where airlines fly their international first or business class product, and complimentary elite upgrades often don’t exist on those flights.*
In April, though, that will be changing, as Delta is bringing elite upgrades to domestic flights that use the international business class, known as Delta One. It won’t be the standard upgrade procedure, though. Instead of getting your bump up a few days in advance, the upgrades will only be confirmed on the day of departure. Those flights don’t tend to go out with a lot of empty seats, but having a slight chance at a Delta One bed is better than none at all.
So why is Delta making this change? My guess, and it’s strictly a guess, is that it has to do at least in part with the JetBlue Mint product. Instead of charging thousands of dollars for a seat up front, JetBlue is making the market more competitive by selling Mint for numbers that rarely exceed triple digits. As JetBlue expands its corporate presence, Delta (and its competitors) will be forced to offer at least a few crumbs to its passengers. Consider this the first.
*It makes sense that the coast-to-coast market is as competitive and expensive as the east coast to Europe. If you’re flying for six hours between large cities, why should it matter if you are flying east or west?
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