INSANITY: Delta Air Lines wanted 80,000 (more) SkyMiles to change seats on a CRJ200? #KeepDescending!

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Is this row 1 Comport “anything” to you?

If you have been reading the blog for a while you know I have very little affection for Delta / Delta Connection CRJ200s. They are horrid and evil jets. But what is even worse, than the jet itself, is the simply and utterly moronic move by someone from Delta to make the worst possible seat on any Delta jet into a “Comfort+” seat as I have shared in this post.

The above is not new information but important to this narrative. You see Delta has an award program called SkyMiles. They say it is “A” award winning program (it’s not). It used to be an amazing program with stunning value and rock solid IT that worked very well if you were just patient. Now, thanks much in part to revenue management gumming up the works, it is beyond frustrating to do even the simplest things on all Delta and Delta connection metal (let alone partners).

OK, that information is not new either – but this next part is.

You see I have booked just about the most simple award possible for next year from my home town airport of South Bend (SBN). I start with a CRJ200 to the heart of Deltaland that is, Atlanta (ATL) and on to Europe from there. No other flight or Skyteam connection is included. All flights Delta “metal” (yes, Delta connection is not really Delta metal but they paint them to look that way and Delta Corp even owns one of the major connection carriers). I booked the ticket at a Level 1 award price per the hidden award charts. All good? Well, not so fast.

You see Delta now employs complex computer algorithms and joins one segment to another to compute award prices. This stupidity is called married segment logic. In English it means that if you say find A-B at the lowest level award (Level 1) and then find B-C leg also at the lowest level award it does NOT mean A-B-C will also price at the same lowest level award price even though it should (as it did in the past – always – every time)! This impacted me in a way that still simply blows my mind.

My booking put me in C+ on the CRJ200 and then Delta One (D1) over to Europe. If Delta flew “real” jets from SBN to ATL I would have been in domestic first class segment one then D1 over to Europe. Since CRJ200s don’t have first class I was put in row 1 or C+. I clearly hate these seats but Delta, on paid tickets, allows you to “downgrade” (their words not mine) to “main cabin” a.k.a. another same coach seat on the jet for free.

Would you pay 40k x 2 to change seats?

But here is where the fun begins and all of the above info matters. After booking my award I called to move from row 1 C+ to the exit row 8 as this is the only marginally better seat on this tiny jet. I was told sure that was possible but it would cost my wife and I EACH 40,000 SkyMiles to change seats or a total of 80,000 extra SkyMiles.

Errrr – wait – what???

Yep, the friendly elite Diamond Medallion line rep told me that to move from the worst possible seat on the CRJ200 (again called C+ by Delta) to any other seat just the same on the jet would result in the ticket being reissued and it would cost us 80,000 more miles – JUST TO CHANGE SEATS.

Mind – totally – blown!

Again, keep in mind the Delta CRJ200 is an all coach seat jet. The Comfort+ seats are the exact same seat as every other seat on the jet (just with much  less  leg room and  no  overhead space). The Diamond rep was empathetic but told me there was nothing she could do as the computers (thank you Delta IT) will not let her move us out of the worst seat on the jet unless I am willing to pay a total of 80,000 more SkyMiles to move 8 rows back.

Hello Platinum line!

Now there are any number of things I have learned flying Delta over the years. I know what reps can and can not do. I can often tell just by the tone of a rep if I should keep talking or just thank them and HUCB.

After about 15 minutes a very nice (and helpful Strive for Five) rep told me she found a way to make it work and to reissue the ticket as an even exchange of SkyMiles. She agreed it was simply ridiculous for the computer system to try to charge us 40,000 more SkyMiles each just to CHANGE SEATS and even, per Delta, to a worse seat on the CRJ200 jet.

I did reach out to Delta Corp for a comment about this “bug” or feature or whatever it is and no comment was provided.

Bottom line from this is that Delta is making even the most simple redemptions harder and harder with SkyMiles. You simply MUST utilize the award charts to compare prices and do not let them over charge you for any award. You need to stand your ground when clearly ridiculous things happen and find someone who is smart enough to work around the horrid and punishing Delta IT in place to rob you of your hard earned SkyMiles. Please, if you can not do this on your own, use my friend ADAM to get this done!

Have you ever had Delta try to charge you more SkyMiles to change seats on a Delta jet? – René



  1. Although I agree with you that Delta’s system is ridiculous I would not go through all the hassle of canceling the tickets to reissue the on a different seat for a 2 hour flight. Knowing how stupid Delta is I would never take thr chance that while reissuing the tickets those flights would not be available under the same amount of miles they were before.

  2. Thanks for the heads up. Finally using a companion first class ticket but one leg is SDF-MSP on a CRJ. Same problem, no first class. My dilemma is that we only have a 35 minute layover so is it better to suck it up and sit in 2b to get out quicker or sit in the exit row and maybe be a little more comfortable for 2 1/2 hours. Thoughts?

  3. Rene, I hope that once on board, the F/A let you change seats unless she was a robot. As we approach 2018, why would any respectable airline still be flying the CRJ200? I know that I have asked you that question before but it looks like DL will fly that dinosaur until the wings come off.

  4. @Steve – To their credit, Delta is trying to get rid of the CRJ200s. They have had issues like Boeing and the CS100 fight as well as other problems. In the saltest $DAL earnings dog and pony show day they had a slide on the years forward and how many less of the CRJ200s they will fly but it take a while clearly and much longer than expected. As to an FA onboard, yes, I would hope I could move if a seat is open after takeoff.

  5. That ill fate hasn’t befallen me. Wow! Were I in your shoes, I would have been too angry to utilize my keyboard.

    I commend your HUCB persistence. For the $kyRubles award algorithm to be so badly mangled that ANY seat change on a single-cabin bird would require an upcharge cuts me to the quick.

    The CRJ200s cannot retire to the desert soon enough!

  6. CRJ200s are so small, if you fool around on one, you only get credit for the Half Mile High Club.

  7. Pay to change/downgrade a seat? Assuming you didn’t recklessly buy an E-class ticket, it seems to me it would be easier (not to mention better CustEx) to just let an agent swap your existing seating assignments rather than requiring canceling/reissuing tickets at higher rate for an effective class downgrade into a better seat. Has SNAPP become Hal, telling agents, [in ominous-sounding computer voice] “I cannot allow you to do that”…shutting off their oxygen supply if they continue trying?

    Perhaps this question will be taken as a rhetorical rather than a serious one for Delta corporate readers, but exactly *why* is the mothership trying so hard to become like an ULCC airline in their efforts at bilking customers? DL used to set a higher standard others could only strive for, and one we would gladly pay a little more to fly DL instead of the others. Now they seem to be playing follow the leader to the bottom, matching the likes of Spirit, WOW, Ryanair, Allegiant, etc., in many ways except lower ticket prices… #KeepDescending!

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