Delta Introducing Elite Upgrade Upsells to Private Jets

Delta is going to roll out a new offering that will allow elite customers to ‘buy up’ to private jet travel.

  • These will cost $300 – $800
  • Offers should begin this week
  • Initial test will be small and focused on East Coast hubs

Delta has 66 private jets (they’re “the fourth-largest U.S. operator of private jet flights”), and like all private plane operators faces the problem of empty repositioning flights that they’d like to generate revenue from.

Of course since private jet travel isn’t necessarily scheduled in advance, operators don’t know until last minute what their repositioning needs will be. So these will be offers for last minute purchase.

Most of the upgrades will involve travel scheduled the next day, although Delta Private Jets said it would have some flights that offer travelers as much as 48 hours’ notice.

Delta has regulatory authority to offer private jet flights to commercial passengers on 160 (domestic) routes.

The company also had to receive Department of Transportation approval for its plans; it is allowed to fly commercial passengers four days per week, Tuesday-Friday, and must submit for review new cities it wants to add

This seems like it’s going to be a rare and limited offering, certainly not something to count on, but a real treat for certain travelers … who may run into problems if they try to expense the upgrade with employers. Still, it’s cheap relative to the cost of private jet travel so some will value the initiative.

Would you pay $300+ to fly private instead of commercial on a short East Coast hop?

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. DL private jets is increasingly going to face competition from the online apps that sell underutilized private jet capacity that arises from positioning flight needs, so DL trying to get in on the action of selling flight positioning space seems to be a win for it and some others.

  2. It’s a rare event, but occasionally (once every two years or so) I find myself flying with foreign customers Delta Business Class on domestic routes (e.g. taking them on a “scanning tour”). As a DM, this would be an unexpected and cost effective “plus” for quality face-time. But it sounds like it will only be available at the last minute and not something you can plan for – and I’m certainly not going to plan on private jet transportation – that’s way to rich even for my ME clients (who are top bureaucrats for rich countries – but generally not royalty themselves). I guess I’ll just have to remember the good-old-days at IBM when some high-level exec from Armonk was schmoozing a big client and wanted to bring a young IBM Research PhD-manager along for the ride in the IBM corporate jet to impress them with tech-talk.

  3. The company I work for won’t reimburse upgrades to higher classes of service. Everyone books in coach (with a few specific exceptions such as TATL/TPAC); if they want biz or 1st, they upgrade out of their own pocket or miles. I can’t picture expensing upsells to private jets, either.

  4. Sure. I’m unlikely to ever find myself on a private jet any other way, so if I can do it for $300, just to have the experience, I’d splurge for that. But if it’s out of my own pocket, I’d probably only ever do it one time.

  5. I’m a United guy, so I don’t think I’ll get such an offer. I’d give it a try once, but I’m curious to find out how much of an “upgrade” it is. Larger jets are more stable, on time, and with…. acceptable… service in domestic F. And internationally I’d prefer to be upstairs on a 747 than in a small jet.

    It’s a fun idea, but it seems a bit silly. If it fills seats, though, it’s revenue to DL. Good for them for thinking outside the box.

  6. Is there any way I can check DL international upgrade from there site or any other site, without calling them ?

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