Delta Is Cutting Complimentary Elite Upgrades On 2 Transcon Routes

Filed Under: Delta

Delta has just announced that they’re cutting complimentary Medallion upgrades on their routes from Washington to Los Angeles and Boston to San Francisco. Actually, they didn’t announce that directly, but it can be inferred when reading between the lines. Delta will be launching two additional transcon routes over the coming months:

  • Starting April 24, 2017, Delta will launch nonstop flights between Washington National and Los Angeles
  • Starting June 8, 2017, Delta will launch nonstop flights between Boston and San Francisco

We already knew that these routes were coming, and that they’ll be operated by internationally configured 757 aircraft. These flights will feature fully flat seats up front, which we’ve also known.

However, what we’ve just found out is that these routes will feature Delta One service. This is the name of Delta’s premium business class service, which they offer on most international longhaul flights, as well as on their flights from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Delta offers elite members complimentary upgrades to Comfort+ and First Class, but not to Delta One. In other words, Delta’s new DCA-LAX and BOS-SFO upgrades won’t be eligible for complimentary elite upgrades. This actually contradicts what we were told last October when the DCA-LAX route was launched — we were told the premium cabin on the flight wouldn’t be marketed as Delta One, so I guess they’ve had a change of heart.

Delta-One-London - 35
Delta One dining

On the plus side, since the cabin is being marketed as Delta One, you can expect enhanced amenities, including:

Delta-ONE-LAX - 7
Delta One check-in facility at LAX

Keep in mind that both of these routes are also among the transcon routes that will receive complimentary meals in economy.

You’ll get free food in economy on these routes

Bottom line

This is either good or bad news depending on how you look at it. On the plus side, those in Delta One will get an all around better product. At the same time, you won’t get into the cabin with a complimentary upgrade. However, SkyMiles Platinum & Diamond members can use their regional upgrades to confirm an upgrade to Delta One on these flights (Platinum members get up to four of these per year, while Diamond members get up to eight of these per year).

I guess this is one of the downsides to an increasing number of transcon routes being operated with a flat bed product.

Do you view the expansion of Delta One on transcon routes as a net positive or negative?

(Tip of the hat to Rene’s Points)

  1. I’m still surprised Seattle gets no love- same crappy Delta domestic service to the east coast, even with a flat bed. Can’t even get a glass of prosecco, or meal service on a red-eye.

    That said, flying to the west coast out of Boston, you’d be crazy to take this over JetBlue Mint.

  2. This will also (presumably) mean Delta One passengers on these routes get Sky Club access, if they don’t otherwise have it.

    FWIW, Diamond Medallions get up to 12 RUCs, since they also get to select a Platinum choice benefit.

  3. Those meals look disgusting. Delta is quickly gaining on JAL in the unrecognizable or just plain odd food category. Delta is trying way too hard dreaming up weird menus. Just give people recognizable food and more of it.

  4. Just choose another airline; they only know the power of the dollar so hit them where it hurts!

  5. @Mike — The meal looks disgusting? It’s an appetizer of crostini, salumi, and mozzarella cheese. Not unrecognizable, odd, or weird, unless you have the palate of a seven-year-old.

  6. @Mike: Perhaps you need new glasses. DL transcon D1 meals have been amazing. I was a PM and now am a DM. I’ve applied RUC on JFK/LAX many times and every dinner I’ve received has been fantastic.

  7. They’re not cutting medallion upgrades. They’re adding new Delta One routes. You can’t take something that wasn’t there. I like Delta One…and as far as domestic products go it’s about as good as any out there.

  8. @Alpha: Someone has not flown to JFK for the last year. FYI, that is Delta One flat beds but a complimentary upgrade.

    @Mike: JAL and DL disgusting food? You must have the palate of a child.

  9. Upgrades on Delta are impossible. I am Platinum and all of the sudden 20 or lower on every upgrade list. They should just kill the program on mainline, make it regional jets only. They WAY over promise and under deliver. Still better than dealing with American.. i guess

  10. Ryan – Why kill it if there is still at least a theoretical chance of an upgrade instead of a firm no? Obviously, given your experience, you shouldn’t expect anything, but if it happens, great.

    Somewhat related question for Ryan, Lucky, or anyone else? As a Delta medallion, should I request Delta Comfort AND first class upgrades at booking? Is there any disadvantage to choosing both rather than one or the other? Thanks.

  11. @Truth–if you choose Comfort+ you run the risk of being dumped in a middle seat as an “upgrade’ where otherwise you might have chosen, say, an exit row aisle that is probably more comfortable. I generally only choose the first class upgrade option.

  12. I thoroughly enjoy this blog… but that’s quite a misleading title, Lucky, as you’re fully aware that is one of several consequences of the actual story: Delta’s decision to introduce Delta One to these two markets.

    Delta: damned if they try to compete on product, but damned if they continue serving up lackluster “US domestic First” realness.

    IMO- Great to see them step up tjeir game in two more markets.

  13. 1. Delta tried its 757 2×2 business-class in/out of Seattle but it didn’t go over. They reverted back to domestic first-class.
    2. I don’t know many diamonds with Delta who get upgrades out of Reagan (DCA) unless they’re on the first or last flight of the day.
    3. I honestly don’t think this product is worth paying more than $500 for. It’s a 2×2 product, which is really inferior. Who sleeps on a daytime flight? I’d rather just make a connection somewhere and get domestic first-class.
    4. Neither the Boston nor the Reagan Sky Club lounges are premium for Delta One. Most of the time they’re fairly overcrowded, though Boston is a little less crowded.

  14. @Victor-Indy – getting a comp upgrade on the AA DCA-LAX route is nearly impossible. Only way is if someone is a no show.

    But AA has priced it at generally twice the price of coach. Say RT Coach is $550, FT First is around $1100 (for an I fare).

    In the case of AA elites, only the top tiers get comp upgrades CK, EXP, Plat Pro. The 50K level – Platinum and 25K Gold do not get comp upgrades on any route. 4 – 500 mile upgrade coupons are issued around 10K EQM, but above that you need to buy them at $40 each. It takes 10 coupons for a RT – that’s $400 RT for upgrade. And then impossible to get at that level anyway.

    But if you are Plat or Gold on AA – say add that $400 to the coach fare of $550 and you are left at $950 versus $1100 for confirm F. Not too hard to figure out way F sells out on the transcons.

  15. And to add to the above. $550 minus taxes is about $450 EQD, and the $400 upgrade cost doesn’t count.. If you pay the extra $150 RT – for $1100 – that counts as say $900 EQD and then double EQM. If you are chasing status – might as well buy the F ticket.

  16. Delta One is just business class not “premium” business class service. The LAX DeltOne check in area and “lounge” is worthless. Maybe delta will improve it wen the Terminal move happens.

  17. Delta sucks anyway, who would want to fly them with so many amazing options like AA’s business class or jetBlue Mint?

    And yes, that food looks gross.

  18. I don’t care about LAX/DCA routes adding Delta One. I care about John Wayne or Long Beach getting their direct flights to Reagan or Dulles back. LAX is a goddamned joke with traffic, construction, and security and its horrible going back and forth now.

    Fly through Atlanta or Utah on Delta, fly through Vegas or Phoenix on Southwest, fly through Logan or JFK on JetBlue, etc. It’s ridiculous that JetBlue had to give up there direct Long Beach to Dulles to get slots at Reagan, and no one has picked up the slack

  19. @Truth: as a Delta Diamond I Normally check both boxes for the Comfort Plus upgrade and the First Class upgrade. If a get the C+ upgrade and it’s a middle seat (we call that a side-grade) then I call and have my sead downgraded to a main cabin seat that isn’t a middle seat.

    Rene (from Rene’s Points who follows Delta closely) is convinced there is an IT problem at Delta that sometimes screws with the 1st Class upgrade when both boxes are checked. I haven’t experienced this (that I know of) but it leads some Delta Diamonds and Plats to only check the 1st Class box and leave the C+ box unchecked.

    Supposedly Delta is working to fix this side grade problem and will soon offer an opt out for C+ middle seats for elites.

  20. My investment side is in tune with Delta and their new ff program.

    My flyer side misses the old days.

    I prefer the company revenue and future opportunities.

    The writing is on the wall.

  21. I think it’s hard to blame Delta in this situation though as an elite I would be disappointed.

  22. @Lucky. Come on, man. This article should have been titled “A Change of Heart: Delta’s New BOS-SFO and DCA-LAX Routes Carry Delta One Service”. How can Delta cut the upgrades on routes which have not even started yet?

  23. @truth the thing I like about Delta is how much more tolerable Economy is than American or United. Even their slimline seats feel comfortable and Comfort plus is roomy. They have wifi on every flight and TV screens on most.

    I always check the box since I immediately get the Confort Plus upgrade. Other than the very long upgrade list that Delta has I’ve never seen an IT glitch that keeps me off the list.

  24. As a Delta PM, I am disappointed to say the least. They just keep downgrading the benefits for those of us that fly every week with them. I live in ATL so as a business traveller I am limited in choice due to time, but as i have told them several times as soon as i have to stop flying for work i am done with delta. Not that i think United or American is better i am just done with delta and how they treat their loyal customers. I have had some really crappy experiences and I have called to complain with a lot of talk but nothing has changed. If they want the premium customer then provide a premium service which they don’t and considering ATL is the home base they give more love to LAX/NYC/SEA and other places. As I said just disappointed.

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