What a difference a week makes! Last week, at this time, the Delta CPU meltdown was just a few hours old. Delta then began, day by day, rolling waivers for changes that finally ended on Thursday the 11th as by Friday things were more or less back to normal. For those affected for more than 3 hours you got a $200 credit voucher (or you should have). They later put in a disclaimer in the wording that you had to have purchased your ticket before the 8th to qualify. They also were rather generous spreading around SkyMiles in varying amounts to frequent flyers. Again, what a week.
A number of readers mentioned things to me on the blog as well as RenesPoints twitter followers that some Delta people were riding in 1st class or in C+ (Comfort Plus). My response was, for last week, Delta gets a pass on just about anything crew related as delayed crews getting back to where they should be could affect an entire aircraft, that is, Delta could possibly have to cancel a full flight due to lack of crew. But that was last week.
I have noticed over the past many weeks something of a trend that is, at the very last minute (think #TeamBoardLast) Delta dressed folks sitting in either the last open 1st class seat or the last C+ seat. Were there really no more medallions on the entire jet, not even a silver, to upgrade to this seat? When it comes to 1st class this really bothers me. As to C+, well, I really don’t consider that much of an upgrade even an aisle C+ seat.
At this point you may be saying something like: But I have seen gate agents (GA) coming on board a bit more lately to pull folks from coach to 1st. I cannot personally say I have seen it “more” but I too have seen it happen both recently and in the past. I have been told a memo went out that a GA can, if there is time, with the blessing of the mothership, go on-board and upgrade to 1st class the person who was #1 on the upgrade list when boarding began. But the most important part of this is time.
Time of departure clearly matters. I had a captain brag over the intercom this past week week: “Another EARLY departure“. Really? I can see about bragging about departing on time but is Delta pushing now for early departures? I mean they already, to me, seem to pad the schedule enough that even when taking a short delay they can make it up and land early or on time. And this may be why you and I may be seeing more crew in 1st class and C+.
The bottom line of all of this is we are back to the simple equation of whether you are willing to do what it takes to score that last open seat by waiting at the gate to board last or, as I call it, join #TeamBoardLast because it still matters. Delta is clearly not going to protect or make it a rule to always go on-board and upgrade the person who was #1 on the list.
Whenever I talk about this topic I always get comment about the risk of having to check your bag as if you are the last one on board there is great risk overhead space will be gone for any kind of roll-aboard bag. I get that, but it seems when the Delta folks that are the last ones on-board, they come on-board with their bags. I guess it is up to you if it is worth the risk of either having to politely ask the GA to call down and ask if there is room for one last bag for a loyal medallion who was waiting for an upgrade or to have to go to luggage claim after you land.
Here is what I would like to see happen. I would like Delta to make the policy official. Delta is clearly saying BOTH the 1st class and C+ experience is an upgrade (even a middle seat). Most times and on most flights we are talking maybe 1 or 2 seats in total. How hard would it be to always have a GA come on-board and ask the loyal Delta flyer if they would want to sit in whatever open seat there is. If they say no then the Delta person can take that last open seat, but give them the choice and if they say yes the Delta person, waiting at the boarding door, takes the seat they were in.
To me, the risk of a minute or two (possible) delay to preserve the integrity of the 1st class, and C+, upgrade perk is worth it. At this point Delta clearly does not and you may feel the same way. For now, I will take the risk of having to check a bag if need be to score that last 1st class upgrade, that is, when 1st class has “checked in full” but has not “boarded full” (a big difference). As far as an open C+ seat, well, I personally really don’t care that much about C+ and will be happy in the main cabin seat and board. You? – René