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Weekend musing on Delta official changes to #TeamBoardLast & onboard FA “Thank Yous”

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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.


There have been a few things I take credit for at least alerting Delta about, and then they have considered implementing the changes. For example, Diamonds boarding with 1st class was one of my ideas. Another one that now is official policy is what I talked to the Delta CEO about at the opening of the B Delta Sky Club in Atlanta – that is, the frustration of being #1 on the upgrade list, boarding, and then someone else getting “your” upgrade because you boarded the jet (YBYL that is “you board you lose” your upgrade spot).

There has been endless discussion on the blog about playing the game I call #TeamBoardLast – that is, you are the last body onboard (and last medallion of any rank) because as others board they officially drop off the upgrade list. If a seat in 1st class is still open at this point, you guessed it, the last elite at the door gets it. Now, maybe not so much. But only maybe!

Notice the wording on I have highlighted. Delta is going a long way to really try to fix this issue by moving the upgrade time from 30 minutes before flight to 40 minutes. Good but not a perfect fix because they do say if you board they will “do our best” to come onboard and upgrade you. Sigh. In other words, it is up to the gate agents and if things go sideways or it is pushing the time to push back they will just put whoever is the last elite standing in the last 1st class seat. Problem not solved but maybe better? I will still play #TeamBoardLast now and then!

From DeltaPro

Next up this long weekend Delta is going to request more and more from flight attendants who already have a ton to do. Notice the alert sent to travel agents about how Delta is going to use the GST or “Guest Services Tool” a.k.a. the Skypro to find those fliers who Delta FAs should be sure to thank for their loyalty and especially so if they are back in the back of the jet in a middle seat 😉

These are so nice!

OK, kidding aside. It is really fun and nice to get personal cards or even a thank you from Delta folks when you fly no matter where you are sitting. However, on a short-ish flight this will burn up time FAs could be doing other things like maybe returning to C+ and offering a second round of drinks or something like that. Also, as one FA pointed out to me, they have safety checks they must do and the more Delta asks of them the less time there is for other things.

I guess my overall feeling on this is I hope it does not become pointless and irritating like gate agents thanking us for our loyalty when we board. They are just quickly, roboticly saying thank you and all it does is slow down the boarding. I say dispense with forced appreciation that clearly is just ordered by the company. I guess maybe I am a bit jaded and it is perhaps a result of flying too much? What do you say – am I being too cynical on this point? – 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. I had a rather interesting experience on a trip about a month ago. My flight was delayed going to ATL and I missed my connection to ELP and had to spend the night. On my return trip from ELP the flight leader came up to me and said “im supposed to apologize to you according to the sky pro, but I don’t know for what.” It was a nice gesture, but would be helpful if they knew why they were apologizing! Also kind of awkward because everyone was staring at this guy talking to me for a few minutes.

  2. I agree that all of the “thank yous for your business” sounds forced. It is somewhat embarrassing knowing the poor agent has to do this and could get dinged on the survey if they don’t.

    Personally, I hope that new emphasis on going onboard and moving folks for an upgrade works. I never played the “team board last” game. I hate having to stow my carry on several or many rows behind me and putting my backpack under the seat. (That room is for my legs.) That often happens when I board close to last.

    I could not view the pictures when I clicked on them.

  3. Just flew from SJC to ATL yesterday and was #1 for the one 1st Class seat that was left. Flight was delayed, so I was at the gate before boarding started even though the Delta app said boarding had started. No digital upgrade status TV at the gate to see current status. Boarding started and I figured I’d join #teamboardlast, but after zone 1 was partially boarded I asked the gate agent and after several moments of discussion between the 3 agents, they decided they could upgrade me. This was clearly within the 30 minute window, let alone the new 40 minute “policy”.

    Seems, this is still very hit or miss.

    • @Tim – Thanks you make my point. It is not a rule but a guild to follow. Thus any issues and we default back to #TeamBoardLast

  4. So I did a mileage run for 4th of July because I’m short of mqm this year. Did the DCA to lax overnight and yesterday afternoon didn’t get the operational upgrade to business class but I did today. I’m a gm so they had six open business/first that they moved non upgradable people (gm) so they could get people on the flight. We weren’t on the upgrade list but the gate agent looked on the flight to see who they could move up and they did it by status.

  5. I’ve had the opportunity to match to 1K this year, and it’s been interesting to compare the two. Besides United performing much better operationally in my travels this year (about 50 flights on DL, 40 on United), the one place United really impressed me was elite recognition. When the crew does their service, they have a list of 1Ks and give a quick “Thank you for your loyalty – can I get you anything?” Of course, they offer free drinks and food to 1K in coach – I think Delta should do the same for their Diamonds, but that’s another topic. (And don’t worry, I just got off a D1 flight from AMS – I’m not fully switching to UA anytime soon 😉 )

    • @Brian – Interested on expanding on this experience on a Sunday reader guest post?

  6. @john,

    I am a GM and have played the #TeamBoardLast several times and have had it work in my favor a couple of them. Knowing that I am an “elite” they have saved a space for my carry on or at worst had the FAs put it in the bottom of the coat closet. So for the times that I haven’t been moved up, I didn’t have an issue with my bag.


  7. I am writing this on board 2305 from JFK to DEN. I was 1st on the upgrade list and about 3 hours beforehand e departure the seats available went from 2 to 0. I went to the gate about 30 minutes before departure and they were offer $800 for volunteers. I put my name on the list and headed to the Sky Club. Unfortunately it was Terminal 2 so no great options to eat. I got back to the gate just as they were ready to board and the gate agent told me they wouldn’t need me after all. Knowing I probably wouldn’t get the upgrade, and if I did hopefully the gate agent would come on and move me up, I boarded with Premium to get my carry on safely stowed above. I kept an eye on first class from my C+ seat and noticed that 2 seats were empty during the entire boarding process. Towards the end of boarding the gate agent came on board and I assumed she was going to bring me up to first. She checked to see if another passenger was on board then headed back up front. She came on again about 2 minutes later. I assumed again. I assumed wrongly again! A moment later she was off the plane and the door closed. I immediately hit my flight attendant call button and after a minute a flight attendant from the back came to my row and I told her about the situation. She said there was nothing she could do. I asked to speak to the flight leader. She quickly came up to me but said the same thing – only the gate agent could upgrade me. I told her that I was very disappointed that the gate agent would leave 2 seats in first open with so many medallions on board. I showed her on the app that I was first on the list but she said she couldn’t help. She said I should write Delta. Long story short (I know that’s not possible at this point) the flight leader called the captain who called the gate agent who was moving the jet bridge and they approved me moving up to 3C. This experience certainly makes me wonder if I should return to Team Board Last, especially at JFK where I find the gate agents to not be as proactive as others around the country. There still is 1 seat that is open in first so I feel for the medallion who was second on the list!

  8. Speaking as a proud member of TeamBoardLast, i hope it doesn’t change. 😉

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