Possible change in Delta upgrade rules & I HATE THEM so much.

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possible change in ybyl delta policy mess from widgets on flyertalk

I HATE this change – if true

Name the ONE thing that will make a frequent flyer crazy. OK other than C+ SideGrades then. It is rules that are not rules or are sometimes followed or sometime not followed. That is, we all hate the visit from SHENA.

It makes us just nuts because we feel cheated.

Delta has, for a very long time and confirmed by rep after rep (even though not in print for us) that YBYL or if “you board you lose” your upgrade shot – officially. If you join #TeamBoardLast that is hang by the gate as EVERYONE boards you will see names on the upgrade list drop off one by one.

Now you will see on twitter now and then folks commending a gate agent for coming onboard to “pull” the person who “was” number one and so on up into first class (or at least were number one at the time boarding started anyway). The problem was this was against the internally published rules. Well, according to “Widgets” on FlyerTalk who supposedly works for Delta and has access to internal documents this has changed. I hate this so much and let me tell you why:

delta yyz to atl fliht departed 13 min late landed only 1 min late

Delta can depart late & land on-time!

One of the reasons Delta resists having a gate agent do this is because it can delay a flight. On time matters so much to Delta, but as we all should know Delta does pad the schedule of every single flight (some, clearly, more than others). They may say they don’t but those of us who fly all the time know better. I mean look at my flight from yesterday. We departed 13 minutes late, even ran into weather, and STILL landed just 1 minute late. Just one example but I am sure you have lots of your own as well.

The point is that, according to Widgets, it is at the discretion of the gate agent to take the time to go onboard and pull up elites per the upgrade list at time of boarding not the “last man standing” rule as it has been.

Here is why this makes me totally crazy. The old rule, while not in print, was consistent. If you went onboard you were saying I am happy with my seat. Many did not know they were doing this but it worked. Now you are going to have even MORE confusion as agents “may” do this more and more as they are now allowed to but this will even more cause elites to expect that it IS the firm rule and they can board stress free knowing SHENA will not happen as agents WILL come on-board to upgrade you if a seat opens up.

3b empty seat atl to ord

Nice place for a newspaper vs an elite

Also, thanks to C+ upgrades now, a Delta gate agent has dual upgrades to worry about and doing all of this and THEN trying to make time to go on-board to pull whoever was number one on the list is just not going to happen often. It did not, for example, happen last night on my flight from Atlanta to Chicago as 3B went out empty (nothing wrong with seat btw).

My advice to you is if you want that last seat that could open up due to whatever reason like a misconnect, a throwaway ticket booking etc. etc. then you wait and be part of #TeamBoardLast. – René

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  1. I personally prefer the interpretation that barring extraordinary circumstances, they would come and pull the first person on the list and move them up front. I’ve never seen that delay the flight and since the aisle is clear by then, it takes less than a minute to move up (especially in the pre-C+ sidegrade scenario where most likely I’d be in the first few C+ rows anyway). While it sounds nice that they can always find space for one last bag in the YBYL scenario, recently all the flights I’ve take the F/J cabin’s overheads have been packed so the bag might end up many rows back in Y, and if you get bulkhead, then 2 bags need to be placed somewhere. Loyalty-wise, it’s better for me to know that I can relax in the back with early boarding and they’ll come fetch me 🙂

  2. @skdelta – You make my point saying “it’s better for me to know that I can relax in the back with early boarding and they’ll come fetch me” because folks will expect this more and more now and it is clearly NOT the rule but the if they have time rule so TeamBoardLast can still win OR, as in my flight last night, the seat will go empty. Are you ok with that?

  3. This is why I love reading your blog: new and helpful information. One of the first things I learned from you is the board last idea. I tried it a couple of times when I had checked luggage and didn’t need to worry about overhead bin space. I’m curious as to if it matters that you tell the gate agent that is what you are doing. Does that thought stick in the agents mind so they take you first because it takes less time than going to find someone already boarded?

  4. P.S. I do miss your weekly Saturday giveaways . . . My mom won some wireless speakers awhile back and we’re still using them and have mentioned you as the source of our listening pleasure . . .

  5. @Sarah – Thanks so much for kind words and I always tell the agent and if they are good they will tell me that they will come on board to get ME as I know the rules. Or it was this way as you would become #1 on the list once others board. I can tell this could get ugly. What if I stick around, take a GIDS photo and show I am number one, and they upgrade someone onboard instead. What will Delta say then. 🙁

  6. I also recently was informed of a new rule in terms of upgrades. I have a ticket originating in Europe and because of this “international” ticket (bought from directly from Delta.dumb) I am not eligible for upgrade to first class on the US domestic legs of the ticket. What!?! As Platinum medallion only given side grade to C+. I guess they would rather reward lower elites flying only domestically than higher elites flying internationally. Doesn’t make sense to me at all.

  7. I’ve been having great luck with the boarding last scenario. I’ve been purposely checking my roller board so there are no overhead space issues for me. When I get the upgrade, I zip to my seat, they close the boarding door and we are off!

    It just seems a whole lot easier than uprooting someone from three seats over (at the window) and the two passengers in between who have already settled in with their devices in seat pockets and rollerboards placed in the overhead bins, etc. Delta is literally trying to shave off every possible second of wasted time in order to have an ontime departure- With #teamboardlast it helps with that and it gives that last upgrade to the medallion who wants it the most (and is willing to sacrifice overhead space to streamline the boarding experience).

  8. Delta so BAD!
    Will be switching to Alaska and United
    Even my credit cards

  9. Under almost every circumstance, agents should come on board and get the people on the upgrade list. I write a complaint to Delta every time I see an empty 1st Class seat with people still listed as on the upgrade list.

    It doesn’t matter if I’m already in 1st or not, everyone on that list showed loyalty to Delta and its a insult to them all to let a 1st Class seat fly empty.

  10. @Sterling, that’s a new one to me. I have a eu-us-eu RT next week, and domestic segments show upgrade eligible and requested – and this has always worked in the past. By any chance, are you booked on any segments that are part of int’l “direct” flights (eg, DL164 DEN-MSP-AMS)? I’ve seen cases where the domestic segment of a continuing international flight shows up as BE instead of domestic first, and so it won’t be eligible.

  11. Rene, I would prefer the rule be changed to them *always* fetching the person from the list wherever they’re seated, definitely not suggesting that the rule be one thing but actual GA behavior different. But definitely, given the SHENAs all around, it would be good to get a consistent rule one way or the other. [PS – if your original seat is in C+, what about dropping off your luggage in the overhead, then coming out and hanging out by the GA desk without ‘checking out’ to see if someone didn’t show up and get the YBYL upgrade? Would that be considered unreasonable?]

  12. If it looks like I’ve got a shot at an upgrade I’ll ask the GA is they’re pulling from coach or if I should hang tight at the gate. Sometimes I’ll get a snarky GA that won’t give a straight answer, but most of the time they do what they say. It would be nice to have consistency from flight to flight, but I understand their first priority is getting the flight out on time.

  13. I just gave up. 90% of the time if I want first I buy first (or use an upgrade device like a certificate). I know, I know that’s what Delta wanted to happen. I’m very lucky to be in charge of my own travel booking and travel budget although I do have clients that give me a budget number I can bill them for flights. If I look early enough I have been able to grab first for a little over that number if I am creative on routing and travel time. I don’t mind layovers or crazy routing as I never travel AND work same day.

  14. was on a flight recently with 2 open 1st class and 9 deltaC+ open ????nuts i hate to wait as i do not check a bag and have a roller ( a small one and it can go anywhere but)

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