Delta CEO: First Class Upgrades are Stupid

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. BNSethna , i thank you .. Also in what way is Mr. Bastian softening ?? has there been more information provided for the 2019 program ?

    Have a happy and healthy 2018.

    Take good care

    Michael

  2. I may be mistaken, but I was encouraged when I received this (mass) mailing from Delta in November (I still wish that it would expanded to international flights):

    Look for day-of-departure Medallion upgrades to Delta One on domestic flights.
    DELTA SKYTEAM
    Hello, SkyMiles®
    THE BEST FOR OUR BEST
    LEARN MORE >
    ENJOY DOMESTIC DELTA ONE® UPGRADES.

    Starting April 1, 2018, you’ll be eligible for Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades to Delta One on all domestic flights. You’ll be notified of your Complimentary Upgrade within hours of your departure time.

    EXPANDING DELTA ONE ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

    A luxurious experience for our longest flights, you’ll start seeing Delta One on more of our domestic long-haul routes beginning this spring. See Routes >

    GET MORE OUT OF BEING A MEDALLION MEMBER.

    Your satisfaction with the Medallion Program is very important to us, and we are thrilled to bring you industry-leading Complimentary Upgrades to Delta One on domestic flights. Thank you for your continued loyalty.

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