Yesterday, while in the middle of geeking out over the A350 1st flight and the new Premium Select (PS) seats, something interesting came up and I quickly tweeted about it. But at the moment it did not sink in the bigger picture and implications of this new change (if it is not just a fare code bug that is).
If you have not seen just what I am talking about yet it is in regards to the “free” domestic 1st class upgrade you get if you purchase, with money or a SkyMiles award, a Delta Premium Select seat.
Now initially this will not have a mega impact because there are just not that many A350s flying around but over time as Delta takes delivery of 25 of them meaning you will have 1200 PS seats (48 per jet) that could in theory all result in a domestic 1st class seat gone as a traveler connects domestically before their international flight.
Before the comments start flying that I am WAY over blowing this I get that there are a number of factors that will impact this. The first obvious one being that Delta is delaying 10 of the 25 air frames for a while thus reducing the total PS seats to just 720. Still that is a LOT of seats.
Next, I get the argument that possibly as many as half of these seats would be travelers starting at a hub airport thus the real impact could be as little as 360 per day. But think about even that number is 360 medallion upgrades gone into thin air each day – yikes!
I maybe understand why Delta is doing this (again, if it is not a bug). From the airlines income standpoint it may work out. If Delta is still flying around with “empty” 1st class seats and are simply “giving” them away to loyal medallions then why not simply give them away free to those who buy a premium income seat from the airline. After all why reward a loyal flyer who, over the year, pays tons of money to the airline in hope of a few upgrades each year. 😉
Honestly the later bit is the part that bothers me the most and why I think the free domestic 1st class with PS is a really stupid idea. I already get tons of reader feedback that they now simply book whatever is the cheapest 1st class ticket they can find on any airline nowadays due to the dwindling amount of Delta Medallion upgrades this year. With the PS free upgrades expanding there will be even less than before.
One last little interesting bit of info if you look at the screen shot above for paid ticket. While you get “free” domestic 1st class notice that on a connecting international flight without PS seats you apparently do not get Comfort+ seats at booking (but you can upgrade later based on status or additional payment).
What do you think. Do you think this domestic free 1st class when you purchase PS will be a good enhancement for Delta flyers or yet another nail in the coffin for the elite program? – René