Rookie Wednesday: The craziness of Delta & Skyteam seats. Just what are we allowed to choose.

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

seat insanity within skyteam and delta

Do you notice the highlighted bit (added by me) in the latest update about GOL+ Conforto seats? Yep, you are getting the same perk as domestic KLM / AF business class seating, that is a coach seat with one seat blocked off for your “personal space”.

gol + conforto seats with blocked middle seat

Before we go on diving into this topic, a tiny little rant. This is one of my pet peeves with Delta’s Skyteam partners KLM / AF that they do not offer FREE elite upgrades to domestic business class. After all, it is “just” a coach seat with, most times, the middle seat blocked off. Now don’t take this the wrong way as a coach seat with an empty middle seat is many times on short hops every bit as good as a Delta domestic business class (1st class) seat. You have space, no one crowding you and can share the middle seat tray with your other seat mate for drinks etc. so you can work on your tray table. #Winning.


Can you even imagine how great it would be if Delta were to start blocking the middle seat in C+ seating (not EVER going to happen, but gosh it would be nice). THAT would make C+ on par with GOL+ seating and make C+ a real “business class lite” type of cabin even if the seat is really the same as the rest of the coach seats.

So on to understanding what you can and can’t do with SkyMiles and seats choices with many of their partners. First off you MUST understand what Delta has to offer. Despite the insanity of the “5 class” marketing spin of OFCMB seat names, Delta only really has two type of seats. They have business class seats and they have coach. That’s it folks. They don’t have real 1st class seats. They also don’t have a better class of seat in-between business and coach. Let this sink in please:


The only thing special Delta offers is a coach seat that has a little more space and some more perks but the seat is the same as the rest of coach. Thus, Delta has just 2 class / cabin service compared to their partners and other airlines. Yes, their DeltaONE seat is a very nice business class seat but it is still just business class.

Next understand this is not the case for many of Delta’s Skyteam partners other than KLM. For example, just to list a few:

  • Air France has 4 class service (1st, business, premium economy and coach)
  • Korean has 3 class service (1st, business and coach)
  • Virgin Atlantic has 3 class service ( business, premium economy and coach)
  • KLM has 2 class service ( business and coach)

We could go on and on with more Skyteam & Delta partners. The point here is you have to match up Delta SkyMiles with a “like” product. You CAN get KLM “Economy Comfort” free as that does match up with Delta’s C+ seats that is the same coach seat just a little more reline and space and maybe perks.

You can NOT, however, get into Air France or Virgin premium comfort as that is a very different seat and experience and Delta does not have anything like it so no match. So no free upgrades as a GM+ medallion at any level. Yes you can, with work, get access to exit row or other such coach “preferred” seats.

The same goes for “real” 1st class that Air France or Korean has. Again, Delta, even if they want to call their international business class product “DeltaONE” it is just a very nice business class seat, not a 1st class seat or 1st class travel experience. So there is no “like” comparison so we can not spend out SkyMiles for a 1st class product with Skyteam partners.

alaska news snub to delta elites on alaska

The final one is the ever changing “relationship” with partner (for now) Alaska Air. Delta elites don’t get the same perks or seat choices as American Elites. So in this last case, even a “like product” does not help us. I guess we can all see why the seat choice topic is one that can confuse even seasoned Delta flyers and novices alike.

Questions about any of this? Fire away – René

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  1. In regards to getting into virgins premium economy….the ironic part is that delta owns 49% of virgin so if they wanted to make that perk available I bet they could…

  2. I’m flying on Garuda in a few months as delta platinum or sky team elite plus from Tokyo to Jakarta and they won’t even let us pick seats. lol.

  3. I never understood why they wouldn’t upgrade elites either. What good is Flying Blue Platinum then? I mean…SkyPriority? I guess it’s nice to have at CDG, but… The more time I spend on that side of the world (almost too much), you realize that it’s simply a difference in culture. They don’t feel nearly as entitled to things as we do…just look at their credit card market…you can barely even call them credit cards…they’re charge cards with laughable rewards schemes. It’s just so different…if you live in Amsterdam, what’re you going to do? Fly BA regional and connect in the UK on your way to Berlin? I’m rambling. I’ll stop.

  4. Hi Rene,
    I started reading your blog 8-9 months ago to get ahead of DL changes with Skymiles. I’m an 8 year PM/DM and I have come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it any more. I’ll have 145k BIS MQM (most from Delta ONE) by next week, but I’m doing the AAdvatage Plat Challenge and taking a break. I may even be able to get both DM and ExP in this year. Everything about AA is better currently except that I’m at DTW. Plus the AA F is about $1000 less than DL J on my most common routes. Flying Blue points are better saved to a flying blue account. I just can’t justify DL any longer.

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