First off let me explain what we are talking about. Traditionally Delta will close the boarding door 3 minutes before scheduled departure. After all, if they closed it at the exact departure time they could technically be late departing from the gate.
Delta wants to see what happens if they move that from 3 minutes to 5 minutes out of Atlanta this month. You may be thinking, so what impact could 2 minutes really have on a flight? They can mean a bunch and Delta representative Ashton Morrow confirmed this test is ongoing at ATL and said “We are testing this to help ensure we depart on time”.
We all know Delta is obsessed with completing every flight and departing on time and just about every Delta flight I ever take lands early or on time and they let you know about this from the cockpit before you deplane. Personally I think Delta pads their schedules, but every time I talk to Delta people about this they deny that.
I know we all want to be on time but you know what else we who hold medallion status also really want? Yep – Upgrades! Could 2 minutes impact our upgrade chances? Again Ms. Morrow stated about D-5 , “It has no impact on customer boarding or upgrades.”
I am not so sure about that.
Delta.com tells us that “You should arrive at the boarding gate at least 15 minutes before your departure time for a domestic flight and 45 minutes if you are traveling on an international flight.” That now leaves only a 10 minute window for those who, for whatever reason, no-show.
The point of this, as I spoke directly to Delta CEO Ed Bastian about at the new B Sky Club opening night gala, is that it is at the gate agent’s discretion if the person who WAS number one on the upgrades list when boarding began can board and expect if a seat in 1st class opens up that the gate agent will come and “pull them” from the back. 2 minutes may not seem like much but that could be just long enough for the agent to decide NOT to come on-board after all.
This means for those of us who fly out of ATL it becomes even more imperative to consider joining what I call #TeamBoardLast (at least during the test). In other words, to be the last elite on the plane to score that seat that, for whatever reason, the person who was checked-in did not make it to the gate 15 minutes before departure and you now can have that seat (you are after all NOW #1 on the upgrades list as everyone else is on-board the aircraft).
It will be interesting to see if this test works like Delta wants and is next implemented system wide. If it is, you had better believe if I have not cleared my upgrade at the gate, I will always hang back and wait to see if 1st class (or C+ if I want it) has boarded full, not just checked-in full! – René