Whenever Delta announces an enhancements to the SkyMiles program, flyers beware, as Delta tends to spin some type of a devaluation in with it and takes away benefits from Delta’s most loyal flyers. Today’s announcement of the onboard class of service rebranding is no different as in the past and Delta’s mid-level elites and leisure/budget conscious flyers will be feeling the pinch more than ever as Delta rebrands their “four” service classes and changes their travel polices.
The new Five service classes are really only two but will be branded as:
- Delta One, formerly BusinessElite, is offered on long-haul international routes; also between New York-JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco*
- First Class is offered on short-haul international and domestic routes**
- Delta Comfort+ offers an upgraded experience on all two cabin aircraft around the world
- Main Cabin experience is provided everywhere Delta flies offering a high standard of customer service
- Basic Economy offers Main Cabin service with fewer flexibility options available in select markets.
First the new five classes are actually just a spin on what Delta currently offers: a 2 class cabin with Business Class or First Class and economy class. Today’s annoucment of rebranding is quite blasé as all it did was rebrand their cabins with new boring names. 1) A premium Transcontinental experience in Business class from New York to select airports on the west coast–already exists. 2) Domestic First Class–yawn 3) Economy Comfort renamed Comfort+ (so what) and 4) and now advertising an extremely basic economy fare similar to what an Ultra Low Cost Airline offers. All Delta has truely done is formally announced Basic Economy and renamed a few cabin classes, nothing in today’s announcement was groundbreaking!
Yet, behind today’s announcement were a few hidden famous Delta Devaluations:
Delta One/BusinessElite will no longer be offered to Seattle from New York JFK. This route was already a bit of a joke as BusinessElite service was extremely limited as only one of three daily nonstop flights between the two cities actually offered an upgraded lay flat seat on the 757-200. The other two frequencies utilized B737’s for the route and did not even offer an upgraded seat with a footrest. As of 2/13 those passengers looking for an upgraded transcontinental experience will have to fly from LAX or SFO to JFK as Seatte will be loosing one of it’s 757-200 as Delta reverts to all B737 service.
First Class: No changes here thankfully
Delta Comfort+: A new name and new benefits which include complimentary beer, wine, and spirits and premium snacks along with free inflight entertainment option and dedicated bin space. Although with this announcements comes an interesting spin—Gold Elites will no longer have access to these seats for domestic flights until 72 hours before departure, however per the news release it will now be free for Gold and Silver Elites to sit in Comfort+ on long haul international flights. Granted if space is still available at either the 72 hour or 24 hour window—good luck! Furthermore, the news release did not specify if the upgraded snacks and alcohol was only on select routes similar to how economy comfort is today, or if it will be on all routes. I guess time will tell, but my guess is it will be on all routes and Delta will do away with the “Have one on us” coupons which print out on boarding passes that are printed from home for Elite flyers.
Main Cabin: Yawn – no changes here and thankfully Elites can still upgrade their way to First Class within North America.
Basic Economy – BUYER BEWARE! Delta’s Basic economy is among the WORST fare out there and strips even Elites of their inflight and airport privileges as this fare is 100% non-refundable and does not permit same day standby or changes. The good news though is that this fare is only available in select markets where Delta competes directly with Ultra Low Cost Carriers such as Spirit and Frontier.
|Perks||Travel prior to 2/1/15||Travel on/after 2/1/15|
|Advance Seat Assignments||No||No|
|Paid upgrade to BusinessElite/Delta One, First Class, Business Class, Economy Comfort/Delta Comfort+ or Preferred Seat||Yes||No|
|Complimentary upgrades to First Class, Economy Comfort/Delta Comfort+ or Preferred seat||Yes||No|
|Priority Boarding for purchase – Trip Extra||Yes||No|
|Priority Boarding for Medallion||Yes||Yes|
|Option to Upsell in MyTrips||Yes||No|
|Mileage Accrual (Includes Medallion Qualification Miles, Medallion Qualification Dollars and Medallion Qualification Segments)||Yes||Yes|
Current Basic Economy is only available in the following market
Overall today’s announcements were pretty dull. Delta made basic economy fares even more restricted, stripped Seattle from BusinessElite service to JFK and told Gold Elite’s that they were no longer able to access comfort+ seats at booking. Yet the good spin is now more free booze on Delta flights to make economy more bearable and the possibility of complimentary long-haul comfort+ for all elites. Overall I am not impressed with what Delta has done with SkyMiles or WorldPerks since the NWA merger and I am glad that I dumped Delta in 2013!
What are your takes on today’s enhancements?