Delta is becoming SUPER tight on ALL upgrades even when NO seats sold! Our #LoyaltyNotRewarded

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no seats RU delta with NO seats sold

There are some disturbing things “afoot” with Delta. I am sure I am not the ONLY one who is experiencing issues with Regional Upgrade (RU) award space opening up (or being open at all). I have myself experienced, past and present, some very strange things going on. Take, for example, some flights I have in February next year, that is, 2016.

For the above flight every single 1st class seat is unsold and I have CONFIRMED that with two Delta Medallion reps. Again. let this sink in, every single seat is open in 1st class. Yet, less than 6 months out, there is not one single seat open for a loyal elite who has redeemed their Choice Benefit, to get an upgrade.

One of the elite reps snidely told me:

“We want to sell as many 1st class seats as we can. We cannot just give seats away!”

Excuse me (my head almost exploded)?!? I have already PAID for a ticket so you, a.k.a. Delta CORP, are not “giving away” a seat for me for crying out loud. You have my money and I have a ticket. I have, thanks to my loyalty to Delta, EARNED a Regional Upgrade Certificate. And yet, even with a 100% EMPTY CABIN, I cannot use them. It is “great” to see Delta is willing to “up-sell” me a seat for $839 since space for “that” upgrade is clearly available (see: salt in wound)!

And things may be getting even worse!

Another reader who tends to fly the LAX-JFK route on a weekly basis has noticed another disturbing trend. He is all of a sudden discovering verily limited, if not nonexistent, space for K+ fares for mileage upgrade. He informed me he has for a very long time been happy to spend the amount needed for these higher priced coach fares to be able to use points to upgrade to business class. That space is just gone now.

Bottom line from all of this is it is 100% all about the sales and Delta revenue management ruling and running the show. Upgrades, one day, even for top loyal elites will be as extinct as the Dodo bird!

Now before the comments flow in, do keep in mind upgrades are one of the main reasons high value business class flyers tend to stay with any airline. They area willing to do what it takes to EARN top elite status, often spending tens of thousands of dollars a year, to get the perks that come with this kind of spending. So in no way is an airline “giving away” perks for these HVCs. They have earned the perks and it drives them to spend with an airline. And yet, Delta seems to now think they can extract top dollar from loyal flyers and give nothing back other than an on time flight. Really? I am not so sure.

Skybonus upgrades not much better by the way!

Since we are on the topic, and so many will be dumped from SkyBonus at the end of this year, don’t think spending 50,000 SkyBonus points for one of their “SkyBonus Certificate – US/CA – One-Way Select Fare Upgrade” is an upgrade workaround if you cannot use your RU or points for upgrade. Why? Well the term “Select Fare” that sounds good but it means “published Y/B/M/S/H/Q/K fare“, that is, only the higher priced coach fares that are NOT what most folks book, that is, L/U/T/X/V fare classes.

It has taken Delta a few years to all but decimate the SkyMiles program. They are now setting their sights on the Medallion program next it would seem by all indications. So many business flyers have not cared about the SkyMiles destruction but let’s see what they think when it is their turn to “face the music” of cuts and more cuts to their cherished perks they have come to expect for their loyalty dollars! – Rene

How is your availability to Regional (or Global) Upgrades going for 2015?

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  1. AMEN! I am having the same issues……..FULL cabins months out and no seats open….or even worse closer when the cabin is basically empty. You are right we did earn these certificates and in my option there should be a certain amount of availability on EVERY flight for these seats. Last year flying ATL-GCM I used one for my wife, as of 2 months prior NO seats sold but certs were not available. We were #1 and 2 on the upgrade list (after getting certs correctly coded) and cleared at the gate ONLY because of weather in the Northeast and 2 people not making the flight.

    Skybonus is again frustrating as you have mentioned in an earlier post…..I had to go back and reenter a TON of my tickets as I received no credit for them even though my SkyBonus ID is entered into my profile and the FF profile of everyone that works for me.

  2. My only issue came last week. I used a certificate to upgrade from HNL to LAX, LAX to DTW and DTW to MBS. The flight in HNL was way oversold. They were asking for volunteers. My upgrade for HNL to LAX went through two months ago at the time of booking. I told the gate agent I’d gladly give up my seat if they put me on HNL to ATL and then ATL to DTW. They refused, unless I was willing to do “coach” because my ticket was originally an economy ticket even though I used my upgrade certificate. There were seats in the forward cabin on the HNL-ATL flight but they wouldn’t gurantee an upgrade, even if I accepted a reduced voucher. Stupid. My other bad certificate experience was my LAX-DTW flight. While HNL-LAX and DTW-MBS upgrades cleared at the time of booking, I wasn’t confirmed into first-class for LAX-DTW until boarding despite four empty seats. Multiple agents at the Diamond Desk told me they were confident my upgrade would clear but that was all they could do. Well, my upgrade cleared but I ended up getting a window seat at the back of the 737-900 forward cabin. Not only did they run out of food I could eat by the time they came to me for my order but the aisle is my preferred seat because I have a bladder issue that requires me to use the bathroom, a lot. The jerk sitting in the aisle (a gold medallion, according to his bag tag) make a stink about getting up to let me use the lavatory.

  3. Excellent comment!

    “..So many business flyers have not cared about the SkyMiles destruction but let’s see what they think when it is their turn to ‘face the music’ of cuts and more cuts to their cherished perks..”

  4. I get stomach pain every time I read about all of these negatives to the program I have spent the last 30 yrs with intense loyalty. Although I have redeemed over a million points over the years I still have a total of almost 1 million which now seem to be worthless. So now I find that the RUs are worthless … I cannot wait to find out that I cannot use the International UG certs for when I get the wife to finally take a vacation. Where is that Maalox?

  5. I have global certificates which I had intended to use but my travel to Europe won’t happen when I planned. Now, I’ll have to be choosier even on domestic segments. Yikes!

    As for the LAX-JFK, the greed shouldn’t surprise us because the jetBlue Mint offering has done so well that extra A321 aircraft have been placed on rush order and the routes have expanded to the Caribbean on seasonal offerings.

    United status match, here I come!

    I just qualified for Marriott Platinum, which means automatic United Silver. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon, which will afford me the opportunity of comparing against Delta throughout the year. When my 90-day United 1K match expires, I’ll be interested to see how the upgrades flow. My most common route will be MCO-EWR-MCO nonstop, which almost always is served on a 737-800.

  6. Upgrades get tougher and tougher. I fly SLC-ATL frequently as a 2 Million MIle Platinum on not very discounted fares; I find myself shut out of 1st most of the time. Amazing. Tomorrow’s flight had more than 1/2 of first open at the 5-day window but no upgrade. There are 8 open seats for tomorrow but still no upgrade. If they are selling upgrades, I will be very upset.

  7. While I agree that Delta has lost sight of how a loyalty program should work, that it should make customers happy, not discouraged, I think you go too far. This post leaves the impression that RUs are not being honored at all. The change that is happening is that Delta is not upgrading immediately like they have in the past.

    I have requested 4 RUs this year. One was immediate, three were waitlisted meaning I didn’t get upgraded until boarding time. One of the waitlisted RUs was actually re-credited after I flew the upgrade, I guess because there was a complimentary upgrade available. In all cases I stayed at the top of the upgrade list with enough FC seats available that I was confident in getting the upgrade.

    My experience is not as dire as this post implies. Could they put RUs ahead of upsales? Sure. Are RUs worthless? No way.

  8. @Chris – I think the post speaks for itself as do many comments. BTW the poll at the bottom allows folks to vote either way. They are.

  9. @Chris-

    You stated (regarding your 4 RUC’s) “three were waitlisted meaning I didn’t get upgraded until boarding time. One of the waitlisted RUs was actually re-credited after I flew the upgrade, I guess because there was a complimentary upgrade available.”

    This drives right at the “Integrity & Honesty” of Delta. Do we even have that with them anymore? What if you COULD have gotten an Upgrade without burning a RUC? They take the certificate, you get AN UPGRADE and you may never know…and you have lost a potential future upgrade as a result.

    In your case, they re-credited it back to your account (honestly, I am giddy ad shocked that they did that for you.)

    My skepticism has developed into cynicism, forgive me. Every time I board a Delta flight (and that’s a LOT I see RA restate Delta’s Core Values to me:

    Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Perseverance and Service

    Separately, Delta has these written out an expanded for team meetings:

    Honesty – Always Tell the Truth
    Integrity – Always keep your deals
    Respect – Don’t hurt anyone
    Perseverance – Try harder than all our competitors – never give up
    Servant Leadership – Care for our customers, our community and each other

    And honestly, I choke on every word he utters.

    I understand that the FCM models from the revenue department has an “anticipatory revenue time model” [algorithm?] that they use to release FC seats and these are reviewed on a weekly (roughly) basis to see if sales are meeting projections.

    But to René’s point: There are only so many RUC’s & GUC’s out there, and EVERY SINGLE ONE HAS BEEN EARNED, not given. They are a part of Delta’s Loyalty Program and as such, the revenue department needs to factor those into their calculations. Furthermore, it is my belief that Delta should make accommodations for Platinum (75K+ flyers) and Diamonds (125K) flyers who seek to redeem these.

    I know I recently sweated out a GUC redemption across the USA and onto Europe where the domestic Upgrades were “held” until the FCM “anticipatory revenue time model” said “Okay” just a couple of weeks out!

    I flew more than 145,000 miles last year (almost to the moon and back) and you’d make Diamonds & Platinums be locked out at the gate with ZERO seats sold? Really? Where’s that Service attitude?

    Delta, you’re killing me here!

  10. I get the frustration. I expressed mine earlier. However, I think we have to be honest about upgrades. You can’t blame Delta for trying to sell empty seats. It sticks but it’s the reality. What isn’t right is offering first-class seats at discounted rates at check-in to coach passengers without elite status and bypassing us who might pay $100 or whatever.

  11. Why not switch to AA/Oneworld? We have known this for at least a year about their continued devaluation their FF program, so what is the game plan?

  12. Three comments, Rene’, and a question. First, FCM is helping to pay for the employee spas that are being installed in SLC, ATL and DTW.
    Second, I think DL is trying to lead the airline industry away from FF Programs because of the immense liability the Program has for all carriers.
    Third, I agree 100% with Laptoptravel. To hear on each and every flight from RA about DL’s five core values and see how those “values” are working is a joke.
    The question is, is it possible, Rene’, the Agent who stated to you that “…we just can’t give seats away” heard that during a Team Meeting?

  13. @Rick C – Agree, Agree, Agree and it did sound very “parroted” yes like it was something that was repeated from a “team meeting” if you will. This did not sound like a normal statement from an elite rep. I almost threw up I was so disgusted!

  14. I have gotten 2 SkyBonus – US/CAD – One-Way Full Fare Upgrade. Thinking if you bought a full fare ticket you could use them. Nope and can’t wait list them either.

    Has anyone had any success in using these? Any help appreciated.


  15. Ok…I have not been upgraded yet in 2016 and am starting to get upset…I’ve been platinum now for about 4 years and now this means nothing…..I’m think I’m checking out Southwest more

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