Why Delta’s Comfort+ Isn’t Totally Bad News For Gold Medallions

Filed Under: Delta

There’s nothing I love more on this blog than the Delta apologists. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I think Delta is the best run legacy carrier in the US, and that’s because they have a fantastic route network and incredible operational reliability. Those are the most important things an airline can do for business travelers. End of story.

Delta’s fresh coat of paint

Earlier in the week I wrote about Delta rebranding their cabins, which I think can most accurately be compared to a fresh coat of paint… at best. I didn’t consider the announcement to be especially significant one way or another. I just found it hilarious that they were rebranding all cabins and pretending things changed.


For example, Delta rebranded BusinessElite as Delta One. In their own words (per their FAQs on “the new Delta experience”), what’s changing?

How will the new Delta One™ be different from BusinessElite®?

Like BusinessElite, Delta One reflects the significant investment Delta has made in the customer experience and offers the utmost luxury for longer flights with chef-curated menus and flat-bed seats (available on most long haul international and most cross-country flights between JFK and LAX or SFO).

Goodness, chile. Usually if you have the liberty to create your own FAQs you at least answer them.


Delta’s new Comfort+

Anyway, the most significant difference is with Economy Comfort, which Delta is rebranding as Comfort+. In the process they’re:

  • Adding unlimited free drinks and snacks
  • Taking away the drink vouchers that Gold Medallions and above previously received when flying coach
  • Taking away Gold Medallion members being able to assign Comfort+ seats at the time of booking — now Gold Medallion members can assign them 72 hours before departure, and Silver Medallion members can assign them 24 hours before departure

Why Comfort+ isn’t totally bad for Gold & Silver Medallion members

One thing I overlooked — and which I didn’t really see pointed out by many others — is that presently Gold Medallions don’t receive complimentary Economy Comfort on international flights. While they receive it at the time of booking for domestic flights (as of now), they only receive a 50% discount for Economy Comfort on international flights.

Economy-Comfort-Cost-1 Economy-Comfort-Cost-2

Under the new system, both Gold and Silver Medallion members win at least somewhat, as they’ll be able to assign Comfort+ 72 hours and 24 hours out, respectively… even on international flights!

And to those pointing out only the crappy seats will be available then, I don’t think that’s entirely true. A lot of upgrades only clear within three days of departure, so it shouldn’t be too tough to snag a good seat in Comfort+.

Bottom line

Whether or not this is good or bad news depends entirely on your travel patterns. If you’re a Diamond or Platinum Medallion it’s good news because you get unlimited free snacks and drinks in Comfort+. If you’re a Gold Medallion it’s probably good news if you primarily fly internationally, while it’s probably bad news if you fly primarily domestically.

Just figured I should point this out, since it was news to me…

  1. Lucky, Everyone seems to be jumping off Delta and United for going to Revenue based and are in love with American. If AA goes revenue based as well, (after the US/AA merge is completed), would you say Delta makes the most sense for someone who don’t fly nearly enough to get to the top elite level.

    One, do they have better products and Two, card spend can early lot of EQMs.
    I am based out of DC so there are lot of choices, AA, Delta, United, SWA.. trying to figure out the one to pick.


  2. @Juno, not to speak for Lucky (and speaking as a “Delta apologist” myself), but if everyone is jumping off Delta and United and moving to AA, then your chances of upgrades or special treatment as an elite on AA are diluted, while if you stick with Delta, which is actively trying to thin out its elite ranks (except for those who got there through credit card spend, which they welcome), you may get more upgrades and ancillary benefits down the line. Just a thought.

  3. @Ben, it speaks to Delta’s quality that your blog has so many Delta apologists (other than me).

    When was the last time you encountered a United apologist? [crickets chirping]

  4. @ Nick — By your logic, if we’re assessing the quality of an airline based on the number of apologists then American is the world’s best airline according to you, right? 😉

    We’ll pick this up on Saturday. Go play out in the rain, or something. 😀

  5. On an international flight, there are not a whole lot of upgrades to clear at T-72 or later. I for one would rather pay 50% of the cost to guarantee a C+ seat at booking rather than gamble and hope for one to be free at T-72. If you lose that gamble, you are stuck in C- for a long flight (although I guess exit rows are still fair game at booking). I view this as a downgrade. I wish they kept both the 50% discount and the complimentary seats at T-72.

    Also, because GM and SM previously had to pay for EC on international flights, there were often open EC seats on these flights. PM, DM and other medallions and non-medallions who pay will now have more seatmates which is downgrade as well.

  6. This wouldn’t have been ENTIRELY bad news, if it wasn’t also coupled with the fact that Delta has mandated that all of their flight data be removed from Expertflyer. If 72 hours out I could set a seat alert and grab an Comfort+ Seat when it opened, that’d be one thing. If I have to go and check every 30 mins then I’m annoyed.

    I had already decided to stop all Delta Flying in 2015… this just solidified the decision.

  7. Sorry, but that’s just not true, at least not on the international flights I’m on – most are sold out, or close to, in C+ way before 72 hours prior. Thankfully I’m Diamond, but from my gold days, I agree that paying 50% is much better than a slim chance of getting upgraded at 72 hours.


    But seriously. Fine. Domestically. They’re good. Internationally, they’re a big huge joke and their product sucks ass. Why wouldn’t they offer A REAL premium economy product on their 11+ hour routes?! If Delta wants to play with the big boys on big routes, they should offer better than their crappy ass products. You want to know what’s wild?! I actually LIKED Delta until I flew long-haul with them. I’m in Atlanta. I’ve been flying them since Eastern went under. All I do is freaking fly Delta. I’ve flown to Europe with them and, of course, my experience could have been better, but they’ve trained us into being happy (almost giddy) with crappy service, food and seats. But when I was stuck in their “Economy Comfort” for 15 hours, I realized just how shitty their product is. It’s the apologists who fly Delta a few times a month on domestic trips and get an extra drink voucher for being a special little Delta snowflake are the ones who don’t realize how crappy their product is because they’re not in it for long enough to compare it to international carriers that give a damn about traveler comfort. Sitting in coach on a Delta long-haul flight makes me think they’re TRYING to give people pulmonary embolisms and blood clots. Their 777s look old, worn and the ones I was on were dirty (crumbs in seat before I even sat down), a bathroom that smelled of pee from the beginning of the flight to the end, entertainment systems that skipped, froze and had scratched screens, and there’s no freaking way of sleeping if your entertainment system does stop working on a fully booked slight. Those extra 2 inches of recline are bullshit. And oddly enough, all of these flights were chock-full of people praying they wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown and kill the person next to them once they reached hour 8 and we were hunkered over our “snacks” which included frozen mini-sub sandwiches and equally frozen bananas. All this came after they’d “misplaced” my vegetarian meal and all they had left was beef stroganoff, so I went hungry for 15 hours. Yay for the extra, rock-hard bread roll.

    Screw Delta and their economy comfort plus bullshit. It’s all crap and not good enough for their longhaul routes. Especially since their prices are right up there with carriers that actually do offer better products for the same routes.

  9. Oh, look, it’s Reine with his economy comfort chip on his shoulder.

    @Reine, have you ever flown economy or economy plus on United or American long-haul? I’m not quite sure what you expect out of coach seats, but it sounds like you consider yourself such a special little snowflake that you may want to buy a business class seat so that you can have the five-star experience you’re expecting from domestic economy. Not sure who was making representations to you that flying longhaul in Economy Comfort would be like waltzing into a suite at the Ritz.

    I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to find a true premium economy cabin on ANY long-haul American carrier, much less most foreign ones. Blame Delta for that, okay. But your expectations are kind of silly.

  10. @Lucky Curious why you think Delta has the best route network of the legacy carriers- MSP and DTW seem to me to be kinda far north to be good cross-country connecting hubs, and while each has a decent number of corporate HQs, they aren’t exactly major O&D destinations. SEA is good for trans-pac, SLC for rocky mountain states, and ATL is good for the South, but JFK is a poor connections hub given the frequent NYC airspace delays and slot restrictions. So unless you live in one of those hubs I don’t see it.

    Personally, I frequent AA/US since I’m from Philly and study in DC, but I would argue United (poor management, service, onboard product, and operations aside) has the best domestic route network- hubs in the all of the four largest cities in the country (EWR, LAX, ORD, IAH), the biggest hubs of technology and government (SFO, IAD), and the biggest city in the Rocky Mountain states, the closest major city to the geographic center of the country (DEN). O&D out of SFO enables a lot of direct Asia travel and IAH has the potential to do much more south of the border flying if United is willing to fight Southwest for it. And partnership wise, Star Alliance and Oneworld give you so many better options than SkyTeam.

    Anyway, curious to hear your analysis.

  11. We just flew economy comfort on 4 flights (hnl-sea, sea-pek, sin-nrt, & nrt-hnl) 7, 12, 7 & 8 hours respectively and found it very comfortable. Obviously, not business class certainly, but very comfortable..

  12. Oh look, it’s nick who doesn’t read a full freaking message and conveniently adds words to other peoples posts just so that he can defend a crappy airline. Look, just because you like to freely bend over and take it from them doesn’t mean it’s wrong for anyone else to expect dinner before they get f*cked by Delta.

  13. @Reine it’s an airline, lets calm down. I can assure you the international economy experience exceeds that of its US peers, parallels that of most European peers and still had somewhat of a gap between DL and it’s Asian peers in Y. Middle of the pack. Not the best and not the worst.
    It would be wonderful, though, if DL felt there were a market for a true int’l W class product (like NZ, BA, VS etc) so maybe that’s an improvement we can all hope for.

  14. Delta is making BILLIONS! They do not care what any of us think. Do what us smart ones do. Fly Cathay, Singapore, Emirates, ANA, hell even Air China now. Don’t worry about US airlines. They ALL SUCK just who sucks the least.

  15. Delta continues to cut service for Gold Elite member which is disappointing , they made it difficult to get to Elie status and now further cutting down benefits

  16. The only benefit for me as Gold Medallion was Economy Comfort, or Comfort + seats. All my travels this year there were no Comfort + seats available. Now as I am waiting to board a flight to Paris, once again, no Comfort + available. I can’t even use Skymiles to upgade. The benefit is completely gone for me. I’m looking at options.

  17. Nick said: “but you’re not going to find a true premium economy cabin on ANY long-haul American carrier, much less most foreign ones”.

    I beg your pardon. Much less most foreign ones??

    Let’s count: Across the pond alone, there’s BA, Virgin, Lufthansa, Air France, Alitalia – all of which offer a true premium economy experience, compared to Delta’s marketing-intensive, reality-poor shadow of a “premium” experience. Not to mention these airlines aren’t shafting their elites, one privilege at a time, while having the chutzpah to call them “improvements”.

  18. Trying to figure out if paying $139 to upgrade to delta comfort+ for approx. 12 hours flight and $119 for approx. 9 hours flight is worth it from a comfort perspective. these are the other incentives to upgrade.
    ◾More legroom & More recline
    ◾Access to Sky Priority® boarding
    ◾Free premium entertainment
    ◾Free beer, wine and spirits

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