Delta: So You Think You Can Sit at the Front of the Plane in 2019?

Many frequent fliers were very unhappy with Delta.  Why? 

Delta made it a lot harder for frequent fliers to get the Diamond status by making purchases with their SkyMiles American Express card.  Amex cardholders, who used to have to spend $25,000 annually to reach the Diamond level without having to spend $15,000 on Delta, will have to spend $250,000.

It’s plain and simple.  This is a way for Delta to make more money by forcing the frequent flyers to spend money directly on Delta, and for Delta to cut costs by reducing a large number of the Diamond elites.

See how much Delta is currently giving away to the Diamond elites.

  1. Free CLEAR membership.  That is $179 a year.  Without the Diamond status, the Platinum or Gold members have to pay $79 to get CLEAR.  That is $100 savings per person right there for Delta.
  2. Free Sky Club lounge access.  I don’t think this is a very much saving for Delta.  Regardless, the individual club membership is $495 a year.  Without the Diamond status, one either can use the club for free by having the Amex Delta Reserve Card or the Amex Platinum Card, or pay $59 for a single visit.  No matter how you look at this, it’s another stream of revenue for Delta from the Sky Club.  
  3. 4 Global Upgrade Certificates.  The Diamond members can use two GUCs for a round-trip ticket on an international itinerary.  By purchasing an economy ticket, a Diamond elite can use 2 GUCs for an upgrade to the business class.  This benefit costs Delta thousands of dollars in the revenue tickets.  For example, Delta can sell a Delta One ticket for $3,000, but sells it to a Diamond member for probably less than $1,000, and lets that Diamond member sit at the front of the plane.  I wonder how many of these Delta One tickets they can actually sell if fewer Diamond elites use the GUCs.      
  4. Unlimited domestic first-class upgrades.  I see that Delta probably loses the first class ticket revenue on the short haul flights.   On the long haul flights such as Atlanta to LAX, San Francisco to Boston, or Seattle to JFK, the free upgrades are getting very rare.  Delta’s strategy is to sell these first class seats.  Even during the online check-in window, an economy ticket holder can purchase an upgrade for $100 or $150 on these long haul flights.    Every bit counts and helps Delta’s bottom line.  There’s no need for Delta to give these premium seats away.  Therefore, the Diamond elites should not be too glad just because you will soon become more exclusive.

Just from the 4 items above, Delta could generate more revenue.  Some Diamond elites are happy and welcoming the changes because they think they have a better chance getting an upgrade.  On a short haul flight, may be, such as Atlanta to Cleveland, Ohio.  Remember.  Delta’s goal is to make money and show its stockholders that its growth is strong and steady.

Delta said that it wants to sell 70 percent of its first-class seats to cash-payers, not upgraders, in 2018. In 2015, the percentage was 57 percent.

Someone commented on this matter…  “It’s disheartening when you’re No. 38 on the list of 50 people hoping for an upgrade into first class,” said Jason Steele, a credit card expert at “Or when it was standing room only in the Sky Clubs.”  Good luck on your upgrade, Jason Steele.  Instead of No. 38, you are now No. 5, but unfortunately, there is only 1 seat left for an upgrade.  Enjoy your economy seat.

No matter what your opinion is.  The real winner in this game is Delta.  If you think you have gained an edge, you truly don’t.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *