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Damnit Delta, why are you trying screw me?!
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Damnit Delta, why are you trying screw me?!

by jeffreyJune 30, 2013
This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Guyana

In an interesting conflict of interest, I received an upgrade for which I had mixed feelings of “this is awesome, finally!” and “damnit Delta, why are you trying screw me?!” Delta (generally) has a policy of either upgrading all parties in a reservation or none. For example, if you’re a Gold Medallion traveling with a no-status “civilian,” the weakest link in the reservation will decide your position on the upgrade list. Examples:

  • Diamond + Silver = All considered Silver
  • Silver + no-status = Very last in line
  • Diamond + Gold + Silver = All considered Silver

Easy enough, right? Rule of thumb: Delta uses a “weakest link” scenario when it comes to upgrades.

So on Delta, (generally) you will want to book on separate reservations if you have Medallion status and don’t want the weak link dragging you down. If, however, like in our case, the person you’re traveling with is someone you want to sit with and you’re willing to forgo the upgrade, then you book together on the same reservation (again, generally).

In our case, we booked on the same reservation and checked in to Delta.com online. The upgrades are looking good!

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 6.02.01 PM

We’re showing 1 of 1 with over 8 empty seats in Business! Alas, the anxiety isn’t over though, because Delta issues upgrades at the gate, after the check-in window has closed (1 hr before departure in our case). This makes complete sense:  imagine someone comes to the airport during the check in window and buys a super expensive economy ticket — well, his/her fare class will likely be higher than most passengers, which might bump him/her to the top of the upgrade list. As you can see, in the end, the most fair scenario is to only clear upgrades once all have checked-in.

So it sounds more and more like my spot at 1 of 1 on the list can’t be counted on. I just keep my fingers crossed.

At Delta hubs, they have a screen at most gates showing the upgrade/standby lists with last names, first initial so you have a very good idea if you’ll get it or not.

830DeltaScreen

Dated and fuzzy but you get the picture

We stand around waiting to see if our names will be called once cleared at the gate. Sure enough, I hear my name but nothing about McCown. Well they must have called the passenger’s name on the reservation. They trade out my ticket for 26E with 1D, success! I hand them McCown’s boarding pass and they say that First has checked in full and that all upgrades have been issued. Wtf!!!??! I try to explain that we’re traveling on the same reservation and ask how that happened? Clearly, they have more important stuff to do and are less than enthusiastic about helping me out. I then did the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a while and went back up to ask for my old seat back. They seemed a little confused but I reiterated that we’re traveling TOGETHER and would like to sit TOGETHER.

So, alas, we have a situation where I should be grateful for an upgrade but at the same time and am angry about the way they handled it.

What has been your experience?

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  • Justin Henderson

    When this happens to me on a delta flight, I usually either give the upgrade to my SO or trade the First Class seat with whoever is sitting next to her in Coach, especially if the passenger is overweight. You should see the delight on a big dude’s face when you ask him “Hey, would you mind switching seats with me so I can sit next to my girl? I’m in 2B.”

  • Justin Henderson

    Great blog by the way, love the photos and travel tips! I’ve been DM w/ Delta for the past 6 years, saved up a bunch of miles and it’s looking like my run is coming to an end this year, so I plan on using the Global Upgrades I have remaining to take the Fiancè somewhere sweet via First Class for our honeymoon, like Bali (insanely nice AirBnB places for rent for insanely good deals, about 100 bucks a night for a 5 bedroom mansion with a pool by the beach) but we are very open to ideas. I originally thought the Azores was where we were going to spend our honeymoon, as it’s a 4 hour flight from Boston, but only TAP and SATA fly to Ponta Delagada, and I’d hate to waste these upgrade certificates for the hundredth time on a ATL-Rio de Janeiro flight!

    • Hi Justin,

      We went to Bali and the Maldives for our honeymoon and had a great time! We’ve also had a fantastic time in Thailand (Bangkok and the Phuket/Krabi Beach areas) and Vietnam. For a First Class honeymoon type of destination, I’d say the Maldives top our personal list!

      Glad you’ve enjoyed reading the blog!

      Jeffrey