This week a video went viral of a Delta passenger living his dream as the only one on board his Delta flight from Aspen to Salt Lake City (or so he said). Even on that 292 mile regional jet hop it would have been a cool experience.
Seeing it described in a variety of media as being ‘like a private jet experience’ though reminded me that four years ago Delta announced elite upgrade opportunities to private jets. With their fleet of 66 private aircraft at the time, they were going to monetize down time and re-positioning flights with last minute upsell offers to fly private for $300 – $800.
This was covered widely across myriad media at the time. For instance,
- CNN: How to upgrade to a private jet for $300
- NBC: Private Jet Upgrades Now a Super Perk for a Few Delta Fliers
- The Verge: Delta will now let you upgrade your flight to a private jet, if you’re extremely lucky
- WTOP News Radio: Delta’s latest perk for frequent flyers: Upgrades to private jets
It occurred to me that I never actually heard of anyone getting a Delta upgrade to a private jet so I asked the airline the status of the program.
- Delta told me that “[w]hile this program did launch several years back, it is no longer in place.”
- Delta confirmed that upgrade offer(s) “did happen.” Indeed, I found a Justin Bachman story about the first couple to secure the upgrade.
- Tellingly though Delta wasn’t willing to say whether they ever provided private jet upgrades more than a total of five times. They confirmed, however, that it did not happen more than two dozen times.
Upselling customers to private jet travel when planes had to fly anyway was an interesting idea, Delta’s own take on Jetsmarter and other startups whose model has been to try to monetize spare private jet capacity. Those efforts have largely amounted to burning through a large amount of cash. It’s disappointing to learn, though, that given all of the hype surrounding the effort that it barely ever happened and died silently.