A Detroit DTW Gate Agent Said the Most Interesting Thing Over the PA Yesterday (REG: Elite Upgrades).

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gate agent tells the number one medallion on UG list to wait to board delta

I was shocked by this amazing gate agent!

This is the year for so many changes to the Delta elite program. I have been told, unofficially that is, that by September the new outstanding +1 elite upgrade order will be in effect (when on the same PNR or reservation). We also are rightfully skittish about anything when it comes to upgrades and there are so many factors that now play into the upgrade order:

from delta-com upgrade order renespionts blog comments

Elites, you need to learn this order!

But with more and more rules this can lead to more and more chances for “Shena” to come for a visit. No one likes it when “she” visits us during our travels.

new delta upgrade cleared list inside fly delta app renespoints blog

To me, only 1st class is a “real” upgrade. You?

Adding a second layer of C+ “upgrades” (really SideGrades) also adds another layer of dread that can impact us (but should not). That is, if you do choose or do not choose or get or don’t get a C+ or Comfort+ upgrade should have no impact at all on your shot to get a real first class upgrade (as long as you have requested it correctly, that is).

The gate agent can and will have a big impact on all of the above. Yes, they should follow what the technology tells them to but we know they can override it and we know that #TeamBoardLast can still impact if we get the upgrade or not, that is, an agent does not “have to” come on board and upgrade who “was” number one on the list before boarding began, but can do this if they want to and have the time.

All of this overview is finally getting to the point of today’s post and the amazing thing a Detroit GA or gate agent announced while I was waiting for my flight a few gates over. She said something to the effect that:

“The person who was number one on the upgrade list should please wait to board”.

I was, impressively, shocked. She was, in effect, asking a loyal elite flyer to play along with TeamBoardLast! Talk about #KeepClimbing worthy customer service. I still cannot stop thinking about how great this was. Strive For Five worthy to be sure!

Now some guessing. To me the agent could see that likely someone who was checked in was not going to make the flight so the person who was number one with no seats “open” would likely get this upgrade. Rather than having to go on-board to “pull them up” from coach why not make them wait at the desk. Also, I would not expect the agent to then force this elite to check their bag since they were the one who told the elite to wait to board.

If this kind of pattern could become the standard for Delta I would love it. It would eliminate what I have seen over and over during the past month of flying, that is, Delta flight attendants, in full dress uniform, in 1st class seats that did NOT go to medallions as they had boarded and officially given up their shot at an upgrade.

So you tell me. Are you impressed. Would you like this one agent’s great customer service to become the new norm at Delta? – Rene


  1. I think the issue is how do they avoid #1 from having to check their bag? If he does not get the upgrade and gets on the plane last, where does his bag go? I would think the only way this works is if the FA saves some overhead space in 1st class. But that would require communication/teamwork between the GA & FA and i can’t imagine that happening all that often.

  2. Definitely would like this to be normal procedure. After inquiring at the counter when I was #1 on the list, I was told to wait and the last person to board was the FC passenger, but the GA thought there was a chance he wouldn’t make it, and I appreciated the concern to give me the upgrade. 5 for the GA!

  3. @ Rene I totally agree there’s always room…it’s getting the FA/GA to give you that room that worries me.

    I was recently on an ORD-LAX flight in first class and the last passenger to board was 3B (bulkhead) w/ carryon. The FA told him there was no more overhead. He requested his bag be put in the closet. She refused and at the same time the GA came on the plane to finish up and also requested the man check the bag. He then said he was on a $14,000 refundable ticket continuing on to Australia. If his bag was not in the cabin with him he, his bag, and his $14k were walking over to T1 and flying United. He also made a “threat” of making sure AA knew the FA/GA were responsible for the lost revenue. You sometimes hear people make these type of DYKWIA statements, but if i was the GA/FA, I wouldn’t have called his bluff. I 100% believe he would have done it. The bag flew in the closet.

    I believe if he was an upgrade on a coach ticket that bag was being checked. Now maybe things are different on Delta, but can see this happening. There are too many GA/FA that don’t use common sense in situations like this.

  4. @shaun: While I would want to do exactly what this passenger did I would think twice before doing that. Unfortunately and I want to reinforce that this is very unfortunate but too much power has been given to FA and GA to make your life miserable and she could easily call security and say he was disrupting the flight, etc.. and have him escorted out of the plane by the police. It is a very tricky situation that I avoid by boarding asap using my Medallion status.

  5. I experienced the same thing a few weeks ago flying outta Richmond, VA. I was number one on the list, and the GA said over the PA “Passenger (my last name) please wait to board.”. I stood by the desk, and five minutes later was given the “all clear” after the first group of economy pax had boarded and then had just a short walk to my new seat assignment in First for the flight to Atlanta.

  6. I always book a bulkhead seat in coach and I travel with a small backpack. Whenever I don’t clear the UG list and #teamboardlast has failed, I end up with no overhead bin space AND no underseat storage (unless it’s a 737-900ER).
    FAs always let me stash my backpack behind their jump seats on the 757-200 75D. Otherwise they’re happy to put it in the closet.
    I’m thankful the the vast majority of Delta FAs and GAs are helpful. And they smile. A lot. Especially if I greet them with a smile.

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