Delta Medallions are getting used to a new way of doing business as of May 16th.  As you may know, Monday was the day that Delta Comfort+™ seats became a separate class of service for booking purposes and Medallion eligibility for an “upgrade” to Comfort+ began being managed more like traditional elite “upgrades” than a better seat most Medallions were always eligible for. Let’s review just a few highlights of what has changed.

  • Medallions remain eligible for complimentary “upgrades” to Comfort+. Diamonds and Platinums are eligible at booking, and Golds and Silvers are eligible at three days and one day prior to travel.
  • You need to request the “upgrade”.
  • If you have the audacity to travel with a companion, your “upgrade” to Comfort+ will be based on the lowest Medallion status in the reservation, and you can only upgrade one companion.

Thankfully, I wasn’t flying Monday (I am flying Delta today), but I have been monitoring Twitter. Apparently, some Medallions were caught by surprise by this change and there have been a few technical glitches, all of which I suppose could have been expected.

Don’t Check the Box

If you are Medallion and look at your upgrade options on you’ll now find two upgrades available, one for first class and one for Comfort+. The first class option is usually automatically checked, but the Comfort+ option is not.

Delta Comfort+

I am told that the default is for the Comfort+ upgrade option to be unchecked. However, there is some evidence out there that Diamonds and Platinums are getting some automatic upgrades straight into a middle seat in Comfort+. I’m no longer a Platinum so I don’t need to worry about that, but it is something to be aware of.

Even as a lowly Dirt Silver Medallion, I am frequently able to pre-reserve respectable exit row seats. I would not look upon an “upgrade” to a middle seat in Comfort+ as improving the lot in my flying life, but YMMV. To be fair, Comfort+ does include additional legroom (when compared to standard coach seats), and Comfort+ customers receive Sky Priority boarding, complimentary adult refreshments, and a pass of the snack basket (on longer flights). On older aircraft, the Comfort+ seats may be the only coach seats with power outlets as well. Personally, I value not sitting in a middle seat more than all of those things, and I suspect most business travelers would agree. Keep an eye on your reservations and manage those upgrade options carefully. If you happen to get upgraded to Comfort+ and don’t care for the seat, you will need to call Delta (or Tweet @Delta) to get “downgraded” back to your main cabin seat.

But Sometimes It’s OK to Check the Box

All these things said, there are times when I would consider checking the Comfort+ upgrade box, case in point, my flight tomorrow.

delta comfort+

Yep, I’m solidly in the middle seat waaaaaaay in the back of an MD-90. I don’t think I’ve occupied a middle seat since my non-rev days. “Tiny” was not a nickname anyone ever called me, even before I began suffering from a little middle-age spread, so I am not happy about this. In the case of having no other coach seats available, I think it’s OK to go ahead and request a Comfort+ “upgrade,” or at least consider it. What does one have to lose in this scenario? A Comfort+ seat in the middle actually would be an upgrade in comparison to 35D in my not all that humble opinion.

Change is Hard

In truth, I’m mostly indifferent to Delta’s attempt to create a value proposition/perception in Comfort+ and sell it. Of course, I say that as a Silver Medallion who can, for now (emphasis mine), reserve an exit row seat. A lot of the hue and cry is due to the latest Comfort+ change being a real devaluation for many, especially top-tier Medallions. In other words, Delta has taken away something else that Medallions previously had access to while packaging it, in my opinion, as an enhancement. I mean….you can “upgrade” into it, and now there’s even a waitlist for it. However, if you, like me, sometimes fly with your spouse, you’re automatically sucked to the bottom of the “upgrade” list for something you could previously reserve with no problem. I do wish Delta would program in some kind of middle seat “opt out” option for Comfort+ upgrades. That would be a nice touch, I think, but knowing what I know about airline IT projects in general, my hopes aren’t high in the near term.

As I said, I’m mostly indifferent to this change. Airlines have done the same things the same way for so long that I don’t mind the occasional revenue-enhancing experiment, and that’s exactly what this is. It will either work, or it won’t, and only time will tell. Delta knows exactly how many “upgrades” to Comfort+ it was selling prior to yesterday’s change. My spidey sense tells me it was probably a bigger number than a lot of people think, or they would not have bothered with the IT investment to make it sellable as a separate class of service. We’ll see where this goes, but I would bet that W class is here to stay. However, policies and procedures could evolve along the way.

-MJ, May 17, 2016