When Delta and Northwest merged, I status matched to Worldperks Platinum. I figured that the program would be retired, so it didn’t much matter if I ‘wasted’ my once in a lifetime status match opportunity.
I happened to have a whole lot of Delta credit to use for tickets, from the old version of the Citi ThankYou Rewards program. So I was buying Delta tickets, and using my Northwest Platinum status when I flew. The problem was upgrades to and from my home airport of Washington National were nearly impossible.
Northwest and Delta prioritized full fare tickets over status when sorting upgrade priority. On a Thursday afternoon flight I could easily wind up number 50 on the upgrade list when the plane took off. My Platinum status put me behind all of the Silvers flying full fare. And out of DC this was a huge deal, because government YCA fares were treated as full fare tickets. Every government employee flying 25,000 miles a year and on a government Y fare trumped me. It was clear that this upgrade system wouldn’t work for me.
When the United-Continental merger meant moving to the Continental platform in March 2012, the combined airline adopted the Continental system — which was the same as Delta’s and Northwest’s. Now Premier Silvers on full fare tickets were trumping 100,000 miles flying mid-priced tickets. Again, in DC, this was a very big deal. (United didn’t really anticipate the effect this would have in the DC market, that United’s revenue-based Global Services members were being trumped for upgrades by inexpensive government fares, so after a few weeks they changed priority order so that Global Services status still trumped for upgrades regardless full fare tickets notwithstanding.)
The United-Delta model prioritized revenue on a given trip over a customer’s value over the course of the year.
Delta has backed off from this and starting tomorrow will no longer prioritize full fare over status for upgrades.
Instead, Delta’s upgrade priority will work as follows:
- Status is the first priority
- Fare class is the first tie-breaker amongst passengers with the same status (this is the old United system prior to March 2012)
- Delta Reserve Credit Card holders and corporate traveler status are tie breakers
- Followed by whether a customer has spent $25,000 on a Delta co-brand credit card during the year
- And then date and time of upgrade request
Upgrades will still be hard to get, with Delta attempting to monetize every last first class seat. But it’s a step in the right direction towards recognizing value over the course of a year and not simply a single trip for Delta.
(HT: The Gate)