Yesterday sure was an interesting day (after an interesting weekend). Delta has grown much more private about sharing info pre-release with the press and blogs and with this one I can see why they REALLY wanted to just spring it on all of us and hope, as many news outlets and blogs did, that they would just post the PR release word for word disseminating the company spin.
Problem was, some like yours truly and my fellow BA blogger Gary, could immediately see that not much had changed and there were real problems ahead with this new “arrangement” of seats. Then as the day went on some in the mainstream press went way off the company line and cut through the hype!
It really is a shame Delta did not take this chance to make a REAL change with this announcement. When I say REAL I mean put in a product that is not quite business class but is MUCH better than any coach seat. Think about Air France and their Premium Economy product. I can tell you, if I as a TOP Delta elite who flies over 100 segments a year, missed an upgrade but got this seat as the runner up prize, I would be a happy camper. Or, on international flights, due to my status I could book this seat for the cost of coach – JOY! But that did not and will not happen as that would cost money not make them money (apparently).
We need to follow the money as with Delta, as I have been preaching over and over again it is all about the dollar and nothing else. The dollar is what the company is loyal to – not us. This new set of scrabble letters has created a new acronym for us to use (on the plus side it is a 14 point word score now)! Delta will AGGRESSIVELY market and sell this “new” seat to the mass market and make a boatload of money on it. Most folks will think, “hey ALL the free drinks and premium snacks I want, lots more room, PVT overhead space and free entertainment – yeah I am all for that”. Good spin. Problem is reality is just a little bit different.
I also got a copy of the PDF that was sent to FA s yesterday. It did not quite follow the company spin and was clearly targeted to not get them so upset they went running to form a committee to become unionized over a greater workload. In fact some FAs I chat with on Twitter first reactions were basically “NO WAY – NO HOW” as they cannot keep up with what they do now – Ruh Roh Delta. I see an implementation problem right from the get-go! Not just that, the internal company memo basically said the ONLY thing that will change for them on 1MARCH15 is having to bring a snack basket by for the C+ rows. No policing of overhead space or mention that C+ will be a PREMIUM travel experience and that service will be 1st class like. Let me warn you NOW – if you want more than one drink on a flight – get it when they come by as it will likely be the only time you see them before they look at you and say “trash” with a bag in hand (not really talking about you – well, we hope not anyway).
Then we have the HOOU-gate situation. That is, Delta has decided to dump GM+ access to a free drink coupon until 1MARCH when they will have a shot at a seat that includes it free. Thanks Delta we so much love these unannounced “enhancements” over the weekend (and from a personal note, to have media requests about it completely ignored – thankfully Delta Assist spilled the beans)! Delta tech support was so helpful in telling me to just ask for one at the airport. The Delta FA memo had language in it about how to nicely tell customers who want a drink to come back after 1MARCH. Nice! I like the idea better that we bug everyone at the airline for a free drink coupon until the change happens and I will be doing just that (most Delta folks have a stash of them someplace nearby – just keep asking).
So who wins and loses with this “name only” seat change from Delta. Silver medallions (FO) could come out ahead shockingly. You see they did not get a HOOU and now, if they happen to score C+ seats, get all the same perks a DM gets in this seat. Gold clearly are the new Silver to Delta. We have two classes of medallion now. FO-GM and PM-DM are it. A little tip, you want to be in the latter group from this point forward with Delta. Keep in mind, as a PM-DM, you can grab these coveted “new” seats for you and those with you in your reservation at no extra charge whenever you want.
I can confirm to you all that SEA is, for once, getting less Delta love. As you saw with all the OFCMB marketing verbiage, Seattle was left out of the kool kids club, that is SFO and LAX. Those kids get the really nice DELTA ONE seats (yes we all agree this is the DUMBEST name EVER for a seat). SEA, you get 1st class that is 1st class in NAME only as it is a domestic 1st seat that is not to be confused with another airlines’ 1st that really is a 1st class seat not just a big coach seat called 1st. PHEW! So will unlimited upgrades from JFK-SEA come back for all medallions since this is NO LONGER a premium transcon route? It better as the way this was justified as a non-upgrade route. Time will tell but I expect it to revert back to a normal domestic upgradeable route soon.
Time to game the system. If you look at THIS post you will recall the importance of 6,5,3&1 for checking for better seats as DM & PM (& others) move up to 1st class on the automated upgrade system days before your flight. When these vacate the C+ seats it is a chance for you GMs at the 72 hour mark to jump in and inside the 24 hour mark for FO. Then, we have the next bit no matter what medallion rank you are. At about 30 minutes before departure the GA or gate agents will clear medallions to 1st class that is any seats remaining in the pointy bit of the jet. What you will need to do is bug the already overworked GA and tell them you want to be in a C+ seat when it opens up due to a medallion clearing to 1st class. They will NOT be happy about this but that is not your problem is it. You cannot get Skyclub folks to help here as the control of seats at this point is handed over to the gate so they are the ones who must help you.
I will add one of the biggest issues with this that is sure to come up is how Delta will game us and when this happens they will NOT care one bit for us. Delta, as we know, has barred Award Wallet from tracking our reservations. This was a HUGE perk as Delta will not tell us when an equipment swap happens. In the past, Award Wallet would simply email us that “you have had a seat change” and we could go back and fix it. Delta cares about more important IT issues than this and when these events happen we get tossed into a random coach seat not back into C+. The only way to game them back is to check your reservation on Delta.dumb OFTEN!
So there you are. With some time for reflection on this I am less impressed than ever with what we are about to get and continue to be more and more impressed with the marketing machine that our mothership is. Do you share my feelings?- René
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