Here’s an interesting new twist when it comes to airlines selling seat upgrades in advance. Delta arguably started the trend of really trying to sell premium seats, rather than giving away upgrades. (Much to the chagrin of SkyMiles Medallion members, no doubt.) They did this by bother significantly lowering First Class fares, and aggressively hawking upgrades between purchase and departure. Now, it looks like Delta’s added yet another tool to convince you to buy up. I recently received an e-mail offering Hotels.com gift cards for upgrading to Comfort+.
How It Works
On Wednesday, I received an e-mail from Delta with an offer to upgrade from Main Cabin to Comfort+. But unlike the usual spiel, this one offered a special deal to do so.
You use the usual process to upgrade. Log on to My Trips, select a Comfort+ seat, and pay the fee. Delta then sends you a Hotels.com gift card within 48 hours. In my case, Delta offered $15 for each segment upgraded, up to $30. I don’t know if this is a fixed offer, or if it varies by itinerary. I suspect the latter, though, as I discuss below. I’m also not sure if Delta offers these for First Class upgrades in certain cases. For that matter, I’ve found very little information on this program. They offered $25 Hotels.com gift cards for $250 in Delta gift card purchases several months ago. But nothing about gift cards for seat upgrades.
The only limitation I see is that it’s a limited time offer. Delta gave me 2 days to take advantage.
Why Is Delta Doing This?
I do find this interesting, but I think I figured out their game. On my particular flight, you can buy up to Comfort+ (W Class) for $49 over Main Cabin.
But if I want to upgrade my existing (cheaper) Main Cabin fare, Delta charges $64.
What a coincidence – a $15 difference. And I suspect this is the intention. Delta generally charges more to upgrade to Comfort+ than to buy it directly when you buy your ticket. That makes sense, actually; Delta obviously wants you to do it upfront so they get your money earlier. It sure looks to me like they’re offering to waive the difference in the form of Hotels.com funny money. I’m sure it helps that there’s still lots of Comfort+ seats available for purchase. And of course, Delta much prefers to take a haircut on upgrade fees than hand them out for free to a Medallion.
So Should You Do This?
In general, I wouldn’t upgrade to Comfort+ after the fact, just because it costs more than if you bought it outright in the first place. But I suppose if you changed your mind and want it now, and you use Hotels.com, it’s better than nothing. I’ll give Delta credit for creativity in extracting extra money from passengers, anyway. I do suggest, if you’re thinking about upgrading to Comfort+, wait until a week or two before departure. If there are several seats remaining unsold, you might receive a similar offer of a freebie.