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What Delta should fear more than C+/C- seats sales is elite buying 1st on other airlines (and liking it)!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

delta 1mm flying other airlines and likes it
A Delta 1MM buys 1st on other airlines & likes it!

On Wednesday last week I talked about the fact that, at least domestically, Delta Comfort Plus or C+ is just not worth the price – any price – in points or cash. Most of you agreed with me. Notice the above interesting thread on FlyerTalk. Oh sure it quickly turned into the standard for so many threads on the chat board but that is not unusual.

But the OP or original poster brings up some really interesting points that I think Delta needs to fear and think about with the push to destroy loyalty, SkyMiles and to FCM or sell everything that was once a sign of appreciation for driving all spending to Delta. Let’s break it down as I think Delta’s push for short term gains will mean long term pain for the airline.

The OP says he has made a mental switch at the first of the year to NOT just fly Delta. That hurts. When a customer no longer just buys from their favorite vendor automatically at whatever the cost because they like them it is a monumental switch in purchase behavior. Can you imagine the nightmare of going from favorite to a business that the consumer now feels their business is no longer appreciated? A marketing nightmare is what that is.

The next one is that the OP punched a “cheap” business class fare. Not good for Delta. Delta started this push to sell 1st class at lower and lower prices and now United, a.k.a. “monkey see, monkey do” airline to Delta, is doing the same. Again, if you sell all the 1st class seats for only a little more than coach then there is no reason to be loyal to one airline and strive for status. It matters little and as we all know, clearly, C+ is no real upgrade!

Service and on-time matters and that is what the OP got. Now granted United has been a mess. They can only improve (I would think). But I think most folks expect things to be bad on United. If they can be impressed with them or another airline it will even further drive them to spend their “loyalty dollars” on airlines other than Delta. Fear this Delta, you had a captive loyalty locked customer base that is departing for other, if not greener, pastures.

The OP’s experience was possibly better than Delta. Ruh roh! Delta brags how much they are spending to make the old aging Delta jets “feel” new with great interiors. If the other airlines offer something more, for less, that is not good news for Delta!

Then the OP even liked the food, entertainment and overall experience. This is an area where Delta has been crushing it, but, as we can see, the other airlines can improve and are. Again, bad news for Delta.

Now I know none of this is the total picture. There are still so many areas where Delta shines so much more than United or others. But how long will this be the case? If all the airlines are one day providing just about the same experience, what then differentiates Delta? Their rewards program – HA! RIGHT! NO! Their elite program? Uh, have you seen your upgrade percentage this year or tried to use a Regional or Global upgrade cert as of late. I think you get the idea.

You tell me. Have all the changes at Delta over the past year changed how you buy tickets and where you buy them? – René



Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. You are spot on with this post, I have started flying other airlines besides Delta for the reasons stated. Since the start of
    I am a Diamond 2 million miler, with 400,000 MQM miles right now, I rolled over 350,000 last year, who can never get an upgrade any longer on mozt any flight but especially international flgihts because the domestic leg/connection dollar value is so low that everybody beats me for the upgrades, and i spejd over $40K a year with Delta, there is no reason for me to be loyal any longer. They have broken their loyalty and now I am breaking my loyalty. For 18 years they had a customer that didn’t eveneed think twice about flying another airline but since 2014 I am now flying others and evaluating the options.

  2. AlohaDaveKennedy Reply

    Yes, Delta’s moves have caused me to increase use of several foreign carriers with much better seats and service. I enjoy now being able to fly out of Atlanta on anything but Delta.

  3. I only fly Delta if I’m on a hidden city ticket, because their hub nonstops are such a ripoff. Because I need to carry on a bag, I buy the C+ ticket to assure overhead space. The C+ fare is still hundreds less than if I purchased the base nonstop….especially when flying with the family.

  4. I live near AA and UA hubs. I stay loyal to Delta for the superior service and reliability. I’m willing to buy first and business class tickets, and don’t mind connecting. Delta is giving me fewer and fewer reasons to stay though. If UA continues to improve, I will be unable to justify ignoring all those nonstop options.

  5. On the positive side, Delta offered me FREE C+ upgrades on one upcoming flight one day and another flight the next day. I am Silver and we are 5 days from departure. When I said yes, the website charged me $119/seat. I called. They said it was a mistake on both occasions. It happened again today on the same flights. I called and because I was able to send them screen shots (for some reason they could not look at them over the weekend) to verify what I saw, they upgraded me on both legs AND they said I was the second caller with this issue today. Customer service went from C+ to A.

  6. This is a real mistake for Delta. My 6’6″ husband prefers the bulkhead and when he heard that we would have to pay extra for it (as Diamond and Platinum Medallion members!) it was the last straw. United bulkheads are not extra, and as 1K members we got complementary boxes and alcohol. You need to reverse this policy fast, Delta, or you will lose your Diamonds!

  7. Just this past week I had occasion to fly from DFW to ORL. I priced it out with AA, DL and UA. Even though I am Platinum with Delta, I choose to fly UA. Upon checkin with UA I was offered the opportunity to purchase 1st class for an additional $200. I made the purchase and had a very good experience in 1st class. I would have to go back and try to recalculate the numbers, but I believe that my 1st class flight with UA was about $60 more then my economy fare with DL. In the past I would never have “shopped” my flight, I would just have booked Delta with the probability of being bumped up to 1st. Now I will shop all of my flights. I still need 16k for my million miles, but it no longer has the allure it used to have. I will eventually get it, but might fly several other airlines before it happens.

    • @Ward – I could have simply swapped your comment for my post today. Thank you for your input! 🙁

  8. As a “middle of the pack” Medallion that was usually gold or platinum, I was still treated fairly well to include my family and I was able to get good value for SkyPesos (it seemed fair when compared to other airlines). That has gone in the crapper quickly, in the last year or less. For my work travel, I have to buy within $100 of the cheapest fare or get VP approval. Guess what – out of my last dozen flights or so I haven’t been able to pick Delta due to that rule (with one exception last week). While flying on American (always within the $100 of Spirit/Frontier/Southwest) I realized that as long as I can pick a MCE seat and choose to ask for an upgrade, it is more predictable than the Delta C+/upgrade lottery. I picked up AA Platinum in the status challenge last fall. If I want a sandwich or a glass of wine, I pay for it with my AA card that discounts it and gives me miles. I hate opaque processes, I find them really offensive — and that is really what Delta has turned this into.

  9. I fly with DL not because of DL but because of the connections they offer with Virgin Atlantic. I flew once with DL to JFK, and while it was OK it didn’t really have the “zing” that VS has. I’m fine with a 40 minute flight out of ATL after a 9 hour flight with VS.

    Plus the lack of premium economy (actual premium economy, not C+ being mish-mashed into a form of premium economy) put me off even further.

  10. The changes began more than a year ago. At least 2 right? I’ve since bought based on price only whereas before I would pay more to chase status.

  11. Corbett Kroehler Reply

    Opaque, indeed! Rich nailed it!

    The OP also must be psychic because the description matched my thought process exactly.

    Here’s another example of the “see first class at any price” impact: last month, my wife flew MCO-IAH-COS on United. She needed to check bags, which would have been $60. By upgrading the first leg of her journey at check-in for $110, her bags were free and she snagged a meal.

    Under ANY other circumstance, she would have been all the way in the back because she prefers to economize.

    As for me, I have participated in the Hilton/AAdvantage Gold promotion and found the situation tolerable (on top of the fact that all of the fares were at least 30% lower than on DL and with better times and connections).

    From now on, when I need to buy a ticket on my own rather than having it bought by a client, I will give strong consideration to AA and UA first class because, even with the extra expense, it often is cheaper than DL cattle class.

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