The Unintended Consequences of the new Delta +1 Medallion Upgrade Process

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Tweet from @TravelingForBrews to @RenesPoints

Personally I am beyond thrilled that Delta has improved the medallion program by including your +1 on the same reservation as you for upgrades (if they are at least a SkyMiles member). I can tell you as someone who normally flies over 100 segments each and every year the 2 or 3 times a year my wife joins me it will be nice to have a shot at an upgrade for both of us and it will likely be on a weekend, even more improving my shot as a Diamond.

This change had to happen for Delta. From my days in SkyPanel I can share that folks from any elite level were just livid about not being able to bring their +1 into C+ as it was before (I know, not shocking news, everyone felt this way). So Delta had to make C+ upgrades work for +1s to keep mass defections from happening to other airlines. Adding the 1st class upgrades may have been to improve things or it may have been just due to the technology and the way Delta treats upgrades including C+. Either way, I like it (you don’t have to, it’s OK).



But none of this interesting info is my focus for today. Notice the HOOU above? Have you spent any of your digital HOOUs yet? No? Me either. As a Diamond I tend to just about always upgrade and if I want C+ it is there for the taking. My guess is for you Platinums it is the same, but your upgrades are not quite as good as years past. Anyway, the point is I bet most of us have to give our HOOUs away to get them used up.

With the new +1 upgrades there will be even less reason to have these. Sure, I know, this is sounding a lot like #FirstWorldProblems but a perk of a program that is all but useless or goes unused does not provide value as it once did.

What I would like to see would fix “2 birds with one stone” if you will. Delta has an issue with midday food and food on flights that are long-ish that is say 700-900 miles or during the few hours a day that meals are just not offered unless it is a much longer flight, that is, over 1400 miles. So I suggest this simple fix to the HOOU issue.

Add a “Flight Fuel” food choice

It really is that simple. Now before you, and Delta, starts swooning over the cost I have more ideas. Right now Gold, Platinum, and Diamond medallions get a number of these and we can print them and have anyone use them. Many just give them away. If they have become more valuable make them so only the medallion named can use them and thus the perk is for that elite (or they can clearly spend them for someone with them).

Now I know all I have to do is pull out my Delta AMEX card and save 20% and just buy something but that is not the point. Delta should be offering meals on many flights they don’t and the HOOU to food choice fix would put the choice back on the elite and if they still gripe about food on some flights Delta can answer back with the HOOU option.

What do you think? Am I being greedy here or is a return to what a HOOU once offered a good idea for 2017? – René

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  1. It’s a great idea, especially when you consider that there are some routes (like JFK-SFO) where the C+ seats get a free food item – unfortunately, the choice isn’t from the entire menu, it’s the choice between the wraps (whereas I’d prefer the sandwich or cheese/fruit). I’d like to be able to choose one food item – not have it chosen for me – but using a HOOU would be fine compromise.

  2. Just like to put something out there. Recently came back from a trip to Orlando. On the ATL-MCO leg, my companion and I were 1 and 2 (we have different last names, so we don’t scare people) and there was 1 seat available. They upgraded #3. On the MCO to ATL we were 2 and 3, and there were 2 seats. What happened? They skipped #1 to upgrade me and my companion.

  3. Two flights this week. MSP-ATL-MSP and MSP-BOS-MSP. I am a Platinum Medallion and on both flights the best I could score was a middle seat at the back of the plane. Not a chance to upgrade to first, not even a middle seat on Delta Comfort. Too much for being considered a elite status holder. Airline loyalty programs are long gone.

  4. I don’t drink alcohol and I’m married so these things are either useless or a recipe for being finger wagged. So I’d trade any or all of them to able to be get a snack from eats or any form of food again (good old days). Mrs. Tho®ough won’t drink when I’m not with. If I’m with, likely won’t need a HOOU.


  5. I think that this should have been improved only to the point that if you are Diamond and your companion is not, you clear after all the Diamonds.

    In the future, when you miss your upgrade by 1 seat, you’ll know that some no-status has just piggybacked their way in and taken your seat.

  6. Apparently, the +1 new change does NOT include upgrades on award travel for both to Comfort.

  7. @Rene – I know the rules are in place. But this is another unintended consequence. There are going to be less upgrades for medallions as more +1s start taking seats.

  8. @Kevin – It will be rare most days. And the few times it happens I am happy with it as the 3 or 4x times a year I fly with my wife we can have a shot at an upgrade or C+ if we want it.

  9. WHat is the point of earning miles on business travel and not being able to upgrade your plus one with you when you redeem them. I dont buy tickets for travel using cash, thats what all the miles are for. Not being able to bring the plus one with me on award upgrades doesnt make any sense.

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