For twenty years I’ve been writing that every article on how to get an upgrade is wrong. There’s no secret phrase like ‘revenue management’. And ‘dressing nicely’ doesn’t usually matter because upgrades with most airlines are based on an algorithm – that may take into account (for instance) your frequent flyer status and the fare you paid.
Then a Delta Air Lines gate agent goes and does this: holds a “dance off” at the gate for an upgrade. And I start to wonder whether everything I’ve ever written about upgrades is wrong?
— Britini D'Angelo (@britinidangelo) September 7, 2022
Delta considers extra legroom coach seats an ‘upgrade’ as though this was a different cabin. This wasn’t an upgrade to first class, just those extra legroom seats the airline sells as “Comfort+” so it wasn’t much of an upgrade after all. But it still represents the sort of gate agent discretion that you don’t normally see, but that endless travel advice articles suggest happens every day.
The fact that this is noteworthy is precisely because this sort of discretion, even if just or a few extra inches of legroom, doesn’t happen on a daily basis. As long as Delta’s agents follow the rules then Delta has a seven step process for prioritizing upgrades and shuffle, frolic and sweep aren’t a part of that.