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The Joys and the Pitfalls of Booking an EXTRA Seat (for yourself) with Delta Air Lines!

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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.

I hate coach! I ask you, does the above look very comfortable to you. Oh, how about for ~14 hours? No? I agree! A standard Delta coach (or Comfort+ or C+ that is the same size as the rest of coach) is a tiny seat for most “standard” sized folks. Plus, so many jets are arranged with three across seating nowadays (some much worse with 4 or 5 even).

Sure you can always just buy business class seats – a simple fix right. But that can be rather costly on the purse strings for most folks. Later this month Delta will begin to fly a real premium economy seat (they will call it Premium Select to make things confusing) and that will offer another solution to small seats but even this new seat will ONLY be ½ an inch wider than the coach seats behind them.

So is there one more option? Sure, buy for yourself an intra-European business class seat. I say European because for those who do not know, many of their airlines do not offer on domestic flights a true business class seat. Nope – they offer the same coach seat but “block off” the center seat so you get that extra space to share with the other person in your row of 3 seats (or sometimes if 2 seats you get 2). Well you can do that same thing with Delta but there are some issues.

  • You must call to book
  • You do not automatically get elite perks
  • You must always check in the extra seat
  • Smart to split the PNR
  • Be sure to check-in both tickets
  • Delta folks are not used to this
  • EXST you do not earn rewards

Let’s look at what you can expect if you want to upgrade yourself to lots of extra space in coach on a budget price (often 2x coach seats are WAY cheaper than a premium or business class seat).

First off you can not book this by yourself. You have to call Delta and there is no extra fee to call and book this since it can not be done online. You will then end up with one ticket in your name and one ticket in your last name and EXST or short for “EXTRA (seat)” (this is funny in a way with the current urban / slang definition of extra btw). But from here on it gets a bit more interesting.

Your extra self is NOT an elite. You may be a “whatever” Delta Medallion but your extra self is nothing to Delta. They can not be your “plus one” like a real human that can get most of your elite perks for upgrades and such – no extra you is nothing to the airline (yes there is a joke or two in there). Thus, as a result, you and extra you can not get all your perks like C+ “upgrade” that you may get free on some fights. There is a fix but it takes help from Delta as you will see soon.

You must always check-in you and extra you. This is 100% vital – that is, each time, even if you yourself have been upgraded to 1st class, you must check in you and your extra self. Why? If you miss even one single double check-in a the gate the rest of the trip your extra you will not get to fly. Yes, it can mean extra you is flying empty in back with you up front but that is AOK – someone else gets to enjoy the company of extra non-you in the back!   😉  Likely, since you have a “special” ticket you will have to always check in at the airport with a live rep. The Delta tech is not set up to deal with you and extra you very well and especially so when it comes to passport verification and more. It works, but you will need agent help.

You should split your personality or PNR (passenger number record). Since you is not really you in terms of elite perks you should really split you and your other you into two (again, the jokes just keep climbing)! The reason as already talked about is your extra you will drag down elite you to a non-elite level. However, if you split the reservation into two then your extra invisible you can wait in the elite line with you and board 1st and all the other perks elite you get. Just be sure if elite you does upgrade you do what I said just above!

Delta folks are a bit freaked out by extra you. It is always fun to watch folks reaction when you say I have two boarding passes I want to scan at boarding. Some just do it. Some look confused and do it. Some go to the computer and look at things. Some ask questions. Some challenge you and so on. But onboard it is important because the number checked-in with boarding pass scanned must match the number of people onboard the jet so that is why it is important for gate agents to let the onboard folks know the count will not match up because they can not see extra you sitting in the seat!

Lastly, keep in mind extra you does not earn any points for traveling with you-you. Even if Delta.dumb wants to offer extra you 2500 SkyMiles to join the program resist the urge to click and join the program and earn tons of, ahem, “valuable” frequent flyer points for extra you.

So there are some good real life tips and reminders of what to do and not to do if you ever decide to upgrade your space with business class-light with Delta.

Should you do this? Maybe. There is no question on a really long flight having 3 seats for 2 people is an amazing perk. You can use the extra seat for storage and the tray table for drinks so your area is free for laptop use etc. In a situation where it is just you on say a transcon having 2 seats all to yourself can be really nice for all the same reasons (or even on a long regional flight). It could even be a situation where your employer books you a seat in coach to wherever and you book an extra (paid or SkyMiles) seat for your extra you so you can enjoy the upgrade-lite.

Another reason to maybe do this is if you have a Delta Platinum or Reserve card Amex BOGO cert. Now here it gets tricky. I mentioned you should split the PNR. With the BOGO you can not officially split it. In the past you could with no issue but today – not so much. Thus if you do go for the 2 seats in coach you are going to ride in the back and not enjoy any of your elite perks. Now if you can, like in my case, get a rep to split and then manually upgrade your extra self then maybe but that is at the discretion of the reps and the chance is they will NOT want to do this. HUCB can get old and frustrating.

Bottom line this is an option if the price is right or the circumstance make it a good choice. Just know it ads a layer of complexity to your travel adventures! – René

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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.

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. AlohaDaveKennedy Reply

    With all the recent news about passenger odd passenger behavior, should Delta really be encouraging passengers to bring along their imaginary friends? And just how would Delta compensate one of these imaginary friends if they volunteered to be compensated and bumped from an oversold flight?

    • @AlohaDaveKennedy – I thought about that one. They can not just put someone in imaginary “you’s” seat and NOT compensate you-you as you paid for extra you’s ticket. However, if you and extra you bump there is no way to give a voucher for extra you because, well, imaginary you does not really exist. So my guess is you would get the voucher and extra you no voucher and Delta gets two seats off the jet for the price of one? (makes your head spin right)!

    • @DDiamond – No, you can only gift status to someone who is a SkyMiles member and other you can not be a member. Sorry!

  2. Great post. On long haul flights as a Diamond, why can’t Delta keep the seat next to me open? Often times fliers with no status have empty seats next to them and I don’t.

    • @SAF – Many times those are filled with NRSA or non-rev (space available) fliers.

  3. Debra Linkner Reply

    If you book 3 seats, a platinum, gold and extra seat, can you split the pnr so the plat and gold stay together in order to get on the upgrade list together? In other words split the pnr 2 and 1? Thanks

    • @Debra – Yep, you sure can. The extra seat will be on it’s own. As mentioned you always have to check it in i.e. scan the boarding pass for each and every flight even if you two upgrade (the seat in back flies empty).

  4. On a full flight I can totally see being “guilted” into giving up the empty seat for some reason, like that couple or parent & kid that wants/needs to sit together.

  5. Does anyone know about the baggage allowance for the “extra” you in the additional seat purchased?

    I read that the carry on allowance is strictly per person, due to TSA rules, but is the checked baggage allowance doubled if you purchase 2 seats for yourself?

    • @Eli – The bag allowance is per person. The extra you is not really “you” so no to extra checked bags. Now at the gate (and at TSA) I think you could talk to the GA about letting you bring more if you mentioned you have an extra seat. In fact many buy an extra seat for say a cello etc so in that case YES. Like everything extra seat it takes work.

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