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Dec 14

Delta Airlines: Your Seat Is Branded

Every year, Delta Airlines has a meeting for Wall Street analysts to talk about their financial situation and future strategy. That meeting took place today and, as it relates to miles and flying, I thought the most interesting part was their discussion on branded fares.

Branded fares


Delta is rooting for “up and to the right”

Hey, a plain old ticket isn’t good enough anymore. Your ticket now has a name (and, of course, has for some time). Instead of just coach or first, Delta has as many as six categories of fares. Of course, they still economy, business (domestic first class) and true first class (now called Delta One). But they also have some in-between: If you want to spend a bit more, you can get Comfort Plus (a bit more extra space on narrow bodies) or Premium Economy (2×2 seating and more legroom on wide bodies). Don’t care about a seat assignment or boarding quickly? Basic Economy will get you the same seat, just not an assigned one.

So What Does It Mean?

Should these branded fares matter to you? Probably. Choice is always a good thing, so you can buy up or buy down. But, in addition to segmenting fares, Delta is also making it easier to buy up to a better class of service, which means that free upgrades will be harder to come by for elite members.

But it could also mean that those upgrades won’t be as good. Eventually, elite members won’t get upgraded from coach to business or first. Rather, it is likely that the free upgrade on narrow bodies will eventually be one category to comfort plus, and that the freebies on international flights will be to premium economy. Want the good stuff? Sorry, you’ll have to buy a C+ or PE seat initially and use your one category upgrade from there.

The Bottom Line: Delta is a publicly traded company that is trying to make money for its shareholders, so it’s nothing personal, only business. But it may eventually be that much tougher for you to get into the class that you want for free.


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