Delta has been on a tear with their “branded” seats including now allowing sales of them in the air both on domestic and international flights. Delta calls them branded seats because they are not really that special. They are the exact same seats as the rest of the coach just include a tiny bit more leg room and recline plus some extra free perks. As you can see from a leaked photo on twitter, Delta will soon implement the long talked about overhead cabin dividers between 1st class and Comfort plus, then Comfort Plus and the rest of coach.
- Fare changes coming to Delta! Comfort+ fares launch on 14NOV15
- Preparing for Delta C+ fare class roll-out & medallion “enhancements”
- Delta WHACKS Medallion C+ perks & 40% LEVEL 1 award upcharge!
- Delta C+ auto-upgrade sends Delta Diamond Medallion to CENTER SEAT!
- The Delta upgrade elite’s want to “JUST SAY NO” to. Avoid Delta Comfort+
- Delta could “save” many HVC Delta Diamonds with one change!
But Delta has been doing a good job up-selling these seats and they are apparently, according to reliable sources, going to start selling separate Comfort+ fares on the 14th of November valid for travel on or after the 16th of May 2016.
I have reached out to Delta for confirmation of this but they tend to refuse to comment on anything that is “price” related and this new class of fares should fall into that category. However, the medallion line was a bit more forthcoming with information for me and those on FlyerTalk (one rep told me they can not access FlyerTalk at work but will check when they get home).
Here is what I have learned so far after a number of calls to the Diamond and Platinum medallion lines and chatting with my sources. The new Comfort Plus fare class will work something like this:
Diamond and Platinum Medallions will still have free and immediate access when booking in any fare class other than BASIC E class that blocks you from ALL upgrades including Comfort Plus. There will be a waiver for those on the same PNR (including limits in place now) for a Diamond or a Platinum Medallion member. But if you link a PNR you will be restricted to only one more traveler free.
However, much like the restricted access to Comfort Plus seats Golds and Silvers now have, they will have to wait till 3 days before flight and 1 day before flight to have access to this new “upgraded” fare class seat (so no real change here).
According to FlyerTalk user “vsgvarun” Gold and Silver Medallions will be able to bypass the current 3/1 day restriction with upgrade certificates and they will get 4/2 of these each year much like Diamonds and Platinums get Regional Upgrade certs. This is a way to give a little something back to these two elite levels that have been nothing but beat up and endured cuts over the past few years.
Also this new fare class will have little impact on Diamonds and Platinums, that is, they will still have full access to the seats as well as 1st class upgrades as they are now.
Here are the bits that need to be flushed out and I think we will learn when the “official” news is released in a few days. What if you don’t like the “middle seat” comfort plus upgrade you are auto-given and would rather stay say in an exit row seat? From what it sounds like you will be able to “opt out” of this upgrade but my only question is will this then have any kind of impact on your 1st class upgrade request? I see this adding a new layer of complexity for Delta IT and that does not fill me with confidence.
Lastly we have the PR spin that will come out when the news hits the Delta “NEWS HUB”. This will be marketed as more choice and more upgrade choices and rewards for low ranked elites. Well, yes, sorta-ish.
Once again, it is so important for all to keep in mind that C+ seats are nothing “that” special. Sure, you get a bit more and some perks but it really is NOT a better seat and is NOT a “real” upgrade. If you do not drink alcohol and / or have your own entertainment you really are gaining very little extra over an exit row seat.
Do know that this new fare class, if it all washes out as described, is a net downgrade for Diamond and Platinums and an upgrade for Golds and Silvers. If Golds and Silvers can choose, with a cert, to upgrade at booking for free then there will be less open seats for Diamonds and Platinums.
The other issue is how many more of the Comfort Plus seats will be sold at booking. If Delta is selling even more of them under this new “fare class” then there will be less for any of the elites to choose from. Good for Delta but bad for Medallions.
From my perspective this really is much to do about nothing unless it affects my shot at a 1st class upgrade and it does not, at this point, seem to be impacted. I am happy if you give me an exit row if I cannot move up to 1st class. Delta Studio, if you fly a bunch, is just a bunch of reruns you have seen over and over (that is if you have a device that can view it to begin with). Plus, I can pay for a drink if I want one so that does not matter that much. It is not like these are a “real” premium economy seat after all.
Let Delta spin this any way they want and if they can make more money selling these seats to folks who think this is worth paying more for – good for Delta and DAL stock! But for you who do transcons, and value C+ as the best you can get, expect less space than you currently have access to.
You tell me, what do you think of this new Delta “fare class”? – René
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