Delta New Companion Upgrade Priority – Now No Longer Anti-Family

Rene’s Points found a Delta announcement changing its upgrade companion policy from sometime fall 2016.

Delta Companion Upgrades

Under the old and still current method, travelers on the same ticket dropped to the lowest status on the reservation. A Diamond and a Silver would only clear as Silver. When I met SkyMiles representatives several years ago, they viewed this as a feature asked for by their top customers. The idea was that the 4 solo business travelers get upgraded ahead of a family of 4 that only has one elite status flyer.

To partly neutralize this you can ‘split the PNR’ so that each traveler has their own reservation and is upgraded on their own. My wife and I would split, I would be in a window, she in the aisle I want, I would be upgraded, she would be up front, and I would take her seat. The downside is in case of travel disruptions. A example was last summer New York – Charleston, I was Diamond, my wife Platinum, my mother-in-law no status. LGA had a power outage and before we knew of the change my wife and I rebooked on the next nonstop, while my mother-in-law was being routed New York – Boston – Detroit (overnight) – Charleston. We got it resovled by calling in time to snag a seat but if together the system would have put us all on the nonstop.

Now Delta, after implementing treatment of Comfort+ Seats as upgrades this week (beware the middle seat upgrade), is reversing its companion policy by this announcement to include up to one companion at the highest elite status on the reservation. Parties of more than 2 should split reservations, it seems.

I have mixed feelings on this. As both a Delta Diamond and United 1K, I am consistently upgraded on Delta while on United I have had 4 upgrades in the past 3 years. United’s upgrade list has several features that work against my travel, their inclusion of companions being one. Clearly I would prefer one policy when I am solo and another when with family in tow.

Last month Delta pushed fare class under elite status on the upgrade list, so there is a pattern of movement to increase importance of elite status. Makes sense since plenty of elites are earning significantly fewer redeemable miles under the revenue-based system, while those earning more are often indifferent to the heaps of miles they now earn.

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  • Vicente

    So, if you are a family of 4, with 1 GM parent…..

    You split up and angle for GM parent + child #1 gets C+ (maybe) or (unlikely) FC?

    I don’t mind splitting, as parents we are frequently seated parent+child in separate rows or whatever we don’t have to be a welded unit of 4. However, there is a consequence to having one half of the family seek glory….

    The non-status parent with child loses access to the preferred seating locations that they’d have as part of my party of 4.

    No real winning family friendly choices here. I miss very much the days when I could land EC seats for everyone on my reservation. The trend is clear though, a little giveback like this notwithstanding. I’m not putting any effort into maintaining Delta loyalty anymore, free agent here I come!

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  • Delta Segment Flyer

    Love this change. Huge game changer for me along with free clear membership. I have changed my mind and will stay a diamond delta.

  • Fred

    The Delta Diamond complainers got their so wanted companion charity approved yesterday, now all of the Platinum customers who were fooled & asked for this change will see their first class upgrade chances down to the bottom of the list where silver usually gets upgraded. I have already witnessed this, if you do not believe me just wait until next time you fly. So If you are platinum , good luck because a diamond with a friend, sister, aunt, uncle , whoever the Diamond is flying with who shows no loyalty to Delta will get an upgrade over you. Also be on the lookout for the C- game of two travelers who must sit together at all times, be upgraded, but refuse to pay for an upgrade taking the aisle & window seat in C- leaving the C- middle seat open hoping if the flight isn’t full that they will get the whole row. This is exactly the kind of customer that Delta is catering to & giving priority to. So if you are Platinum, Gold , or Silver, Delta really don’t care if you go elsewhere because you are not a valued customer & expendable , IMO