Delta has been very forthright about how they see their most frequent customers, and the perks those flyers value most.
Two years ago they made clear that they saw the end of first class upgrades coming. They were already earning revenue from sale or upsell to first class for 57% of their seats up front, and they were working to push that to 70%. They didn’t want upgraders in those seats, they wanted revenue (in any amount).
Now Delta calls their extra legroom coach product a separate cabin and “upgrades” elites into that. “Comfort+” is the new upgrade.
This past week Delta’s CEO made the point again.
“Any business where you give the majority of your best product away for free doesn’t work,” he said. “This is the best real estate on the planet, and while we appreciate the loyalty of flyers, we couldn’t continue to give it away.”
Ed Bastian appreciates the loyalty of customers (customers giving them money frequently) he doesn’t think they should get first class upgrades in return.