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(Bug Alert) Is Delta now blocking access to seat-maps in other cabins / class of service? Plus some workarounds!

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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.

Hidden vs. Real seat-map on

The above is the seat map I see when I first look at my seat selection either on or in the Fly Delta App. The shot below it is the map if I go and try to book a 1st class seat and learn that all but 1 of the seats is wide open (HT to @LaptopTravel & a number of readers for the heads up).

Well this is yet another uber frustrating change (if it is not just yet another IT bug)!

First things first, there are a few workarounds, with some extra effort, we can use to get the useful and necessary data we need to find out if seats in other cabins are in fact booked or not. One way is the Fly Delta App:

If you go into your reservation and look at the upgrade list (even not on the day of flight) you will see a ton of very useful data like:

  • Number of 1st class seats remaining
  • Number of C+ seats remaining
  • Total number of seats remaining (including coach)

I have found that this is a much better way, before this bug popped up, to verify the real number of seats open on a flight vs. what the seat map showed as it often showed seats occupied that were in fact just blocked off for any number of reasons.

Now the above is clearly not a total solution because it does not show you the actual seats that are open just the number of seats in each cabin / class of service. Does this matter? You bet it does.

For example, say you are in coach and considering either a complimentary or paid (shudder) upgrade to Comfort Plus or C+. If there are ONLY middle seats open who in their right mind would ever move from a better seat in coach to a worse seat in C+ and especially pay for it?

Even for 1st class there could be times where you would not want to pay for a 1st class upgrade say on a Delta 737-900ER where only row 1 was open as those who are tall may rather have a coach seat exit row that is missing the seat in front of it rather than have no room at all in 1st class for their long legs.

There are other huge negative implications from this if it is a permanent change and not just a bug. Delta is rather stingy (to put it kindly) in opening up Global and Regional upgrade space on flights. They are also not the best at alerting you when space does in fact open up. Thus, the workaround is to often click the seat map and see if it “turns red” as I have shown on the blog and then you can call to finish the upgrade with Medallion reps. If you cannot see the seat map to even select a seat then this simple trick is also no longer an option due to this latest IT change.

So what are (for the moment) the only ways then to see the real seat map? One is do a “dummy” booking for the class of service for the flight you want on or in the App. Yes, I agree, this is a royal pain in the backside and just simply ridiculous that Delta is (for now) requiring us to do this to gain simple access to the real seat map. The other option is to use Expert Flyer that I have never had the need for but this could be the tipping point for me to subscribe.

I have reached out to my Delta contacts but corporate communication on the weekends is rather slow so I don’t expect to get an answer until next week sometime. I sure hope this is just a bug an not another stupid “enhancement” to block useful data from loyal flyers (think Award Wallet and others). Once I get any reliable updates I will be sure to update this post. – Rene


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. How do you see the upgrade list? I thought you had to check in before you coukd see the upgrade list on a flight.

  2. I’m hoping this is a bug and not a perm change… glad you wrote about it, as I just noticed this occurring on my latest bookings and couldn’t believe both cabins other than the one I am in are full.

  3. I noticed this last weekend. My kids flying with me and looking at their reservation seat map compared to seatap under my reservation, they were quite different. I called DM desk trying for us all to sit together and they didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the different seat maps for same flights.

  4. If this is truly a change, I’d expect the ExpertFlier workaround I saw on FlyerTalk to also go away.

    What I shouldn’t be surprised about is how they methodically diminish the program quietly bit by bit, at a time when some people are choosing new carriers due to the recent negative publicity of the other majors. Let’s slide this through, no one will notice with all of the stories about passenger problems. Sure come on over to Delta, our miles don’t expire. Good luck finding a seat. I can’t remember who said it a while back about how they wanted people to use their miles to upgrade their “experience” while flying, these changes are a slow slide to the “experience” being the only way to use them.

  5. How did you get to the flight details page? Is it only through the app? P.S. I like using the computer so much more than the app. You can just see so much more on one page in a desktop vs. the app.

  6. Rene, I just reviewed the six flights I currently have on the books (5 domestic and 1 int’l). I can still see full seat maps on two, both on and the app. Interestingly, those two flights are the only ones that have not had a schedule change yet. Coincidence?

  7. These “IT bugs” are getting more and more frequent which tells me Delta has some serious issues with their Technology team. Someone needs to step up and take ownership of the problem. Maybe start by firing the CIO if he/she cannot get their act together. This has been going on for several years POST-NWA merger! I respect a company or individual who owns up to their problems and promises to fix. I detest those that blame it on bugs. Bugs were a real thing in the era of vacuum tubes. IT problems today and people problems that can be prevented by proper planning and project management. This all smacks of cutting corners on cost and labor. Yes, I’m in IT and yes I’m pissed.

  8. DM 2 million Reply

    Yes DELTA is blocking access if the seats have not been release by Delta revenue management for upgrading. On both of my flights in and out of San diego no seats either way were release by Delta revenue management so there were no upgrades at 5, 3, or 1 day, and as a DM 2 million miler and 580,000 MQM I complained considerably. I am also directing my travel manager to start buying flights for my employees on other airlines to protest against Delta, and I’m going to move as much of the $5.5 million dollars a year my company spends on Delta flights to other carriers. I’ve also had my status matched by other airlines to start using them. If we don’t complain and make them feel it in the pocket book they will just keep taking more from us.

  9. I sure hope this is a bug. Hiding info from your customers is never a good sign. What are they protecting by making us do dummy bookings to see this info? Why, if I’ve accepted a move to C+ (as a PM – for now! might change if this persists), am I to be shown a fully grayed out main cabin?

    If anything, it might cause me to tell friends thinking of joining me on a trip to not bother, it looks sold out!

    • @raflW. They are hiding info so people don’t find out there are no upgrades and get pissed off like I did. I was watching and only after I complained did they block the seat map.

  10. There are a number of good things about Delta, but what they have done to Skymiles & delta.dumb are not two of the. As a DM, I am calling the Diamond line every day to have them look at the seat map on two flight where I have a GU. One one flight the second map where we would normally have a view only map until a seat clears the map shows every seat in every class taken. On the other trip the “view only” map just disappeared entirely!! (The reps assure me that I’m still waitlisted……which is a whole other issue.)
    I also ask the rep to register my complaint AND let Delta know that I for one am going to call every day until this is fixed. Perhaps if a number of DM called every day the message would get through that this IS costing Delta money (which they care about) as well as inconveniencing customers.

  11. This “bug” is still happening. PM desk rep said they are having same problem… not sure if that’s true or not.

    • They are blocking so we can’t see how many seats are left and wonder why we dont get.upgrades at 5, 3, or 1 days out anymore. Don’t naive their BUG BS.

  12. Well Rene, your workaround now doesn’t work either. The app now only shows C+ & the standby list. The number of unoccupied business seats is no longer shown. I suppose we must go to the trouble of booking a phantom flight to see what seats are actually available. Frustrating!

    • @Bill – Don’t worry, Delta IT pro’s are today bragging up the new fancy (and dumbed down) sales page rather than spending time fixing this bug! 🙁

  13. I was told by a DM ageny that until revenue control in Atlanta releases the seats they will not show up. So until they have tried to sell the first class seats and have failed we won’t see the seats. THIS IS NOY A BUG. As an example, a trip to Newark last week the seats were not showing in the app until after I got to the airport. I knew how many seats were left in 1st (8seats). Once i got to the gate the seats showed up and people start to be cleared for upgrades and thats the way it is now.
    I understand upgrades are not guaranteed and so my LOYALTY is no longer guaranteed nor offered to delta. And I am moving as much of my $5 million I spend on all my employees business flights away from delta because we now see where their LOYALTY is,,,,,, and it isn’t anymore with the upgrades. So until it starts to hurt delta in the pocket book we will continue to be take advantage of. I say boycott delta as much as possible. I am also organizing people to get united and American and others to fly more into my city to be able to move more away from delta.

  14. It looks like this bug is back. It appeared to have gone back to normal, as in seeing the available seats but today I can no longer see available seats in different classes again.

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