Don’t Be Fooled By Today’s Big Marketing Announcement from Delta (It’s a Devaluation)

Delta is rebranding BusinessElite as Delta One and their extra legroom economy product as Delta Comfort+.

Delta One, First Class and Delta Comfort+ are getting new seat covers.

    Delta 737 first class

Over the weekend Delta eliminated free drink coupons for Gold elites and higher checking in online who had not been upgraded.

Effective March 1, though, Comfort+ passengers wil receive “complimentary beer, wine and spirits or premium snacks.”

In other words, as long as elites have extra legroom seats they’ll still get their drink (although they go thirsty for a four month interim period). There’s still bad news here for Gold elites, though.

‘Or premium snack’ is a plus, but it’s hard to get excited about something they used to give and then took away but are giving back. (Full disclosure: I would get excited if American brought back the chocolate chip cookie that they used to give and then took away, so there are exceptions.)

While the industry standard for extra legroom coach seats has moved to being available complimentary to 50,000 mile elites and higher at booking and at check-in for 25,000 mile elites (rather than complimentary elites as it used to be), starting March 1 Delta will offer extra legroom coach seats at booking to Platinums and Diamonds and then:

  • Golds 72 hours out
  • Silvers 24 hours out (check-in)

In other words, the good news here is new seat covers (can I get a harrumph?), and the bad news is that Golds no longer get it free at booking.

Just like when Delta announced the introduction of ‘Sky Priority’ and the only real new benefit at the time was those drink coupons, this big marketing announcement is more about branding than substantive improvement.

Don’t be fooled by the marketing video:

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, 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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  1. I gather that an additional benefit is that those elites who DO manage to get into economy comfort +1, or whatever it’s called, aren’t limited to a single drink.

  2. My wife is GM and I am PM, but since she always travels with me I don’t see this as a big loss. We’ll just have to make sure we’re always on the same PNR to get the comfort+ seats. Even though not limited to a single drink, practically speaking the beverage cart only goes through the main cabin once or at most twice on longer domestic flights, so this is really limited unless they let me have a triple Woodford on the rocks.

  3. Two missed benefits:

    If you ARE Diamond or Platinum, the likelihood that you will be shutout of the extra-legroom coach seats will be less. I’ve been shutout when reserving only a week or so before a flight, I’m Diamond, and this should be a tangible Delta improvement for me.

    I also saw on the video that overhead space was now “reserved” for the extra-legroom seats – I’ve never noticed that before. I often see “clever” coach passengers depositing their bags in the overhead at the front of the cabin so they don’t have to schlep their bag(s) back and then later forward again. (Not sure how this will be enforced! Would a hard-nosed FA bring the bag back to the passenger informing them that “good news – I’ve found your misplaced property and I’m bringing it to you!”) Note that there is now extra overhead space for the passengers at the front of the cabin because the extra legroom pitch translates to a corresponding average increase in overhead space for the extra legroom passengers. This translates into less necessity to be among the first passengers on the plane to lay claim to your overhead bin space.

  4. Prediction- the Comfort+ is going to be the new complimentary upgrade for (some- Silver?) elites, while F will start going out with empty seats…

    Spitballing 4 months for this announcements.

  5. I think you could change all the headlines for your Delta articles to something like… “Just when you thought Delta couldn’t suck anymore…”

  6. @Gary — The loss of free Economy Comfort at the time of ticketing for domestic routes is no doubt a devaluation for Gold Medallions. (They never received the perk on long-haul international routes.) But how are the additions of alcohol and (not sure where you’re getting “or”) premium snacks to the newly-christened Comfort+ not “substantive improvements”? There’s no “fooling” going on—Comfort+ is an enhancement for Platinum and Diamond Medallions and paying customers.

  7. @Gary, and now we can get a snack again as well as multiple free drinks. I’m not worrying over the loss of a single free drink until March. I’m sure I’ll be able to make up for it once the benefit returns.

    We really can’t pass over the added benefit of C+ seats being more available to flyers like myself who purchase closer to the travel day, as SE Rob mentioned. I too have felt the sting of getting nothing but a middle seat in the back and paying near full Y prices for it. For Plat+ elites, this is truly an enhancement.

  8. Gary,
    Even with your bias against Delta, you haven’t convinced me that this is a negative change. You mention the industry standard of when elites typically get to select “extra legroom” seats, completely ignoring the fact that with these changes, they are more than just “extra legroom” seats; no other US network carrier offers anything more than just extra legroom in their premium economy seats, but with this announcement, Delta does. Delta currently offers free drinks and wraps on their premium transcons in EC, and now they are expanding this differentiation with Comfort+. You have your head in the sand if you don’t recognize and appreciate the investments Delta is making in their product.

  9. The “Have One On Us” program that Delta eliminated this past weekend had formerly offered one alcoholic beverage, non-perishable snack, or headset to Sky Priority passengers seated in economy. Several months ago, the latter two options were eliminated. Either way, the program required passengers to print boarding passes at home to obtain the certificate. What percentage of passengers do that as opposed to using a kiosk or the mobile app?

    The new Comfort+, by contrast, will offer unlimited alcoholic beverages (within reason, of course) and, on flights longer than 900 miles, premium snacks. This is an enhancement to the Economy Comfort product, and not really related to Have One On Us.

  10. sonofabeotch
    I went out of my way to do a little bit more to get gold in order to get access to economy comfort at booking

  11. Did you ever have one of the cookies served on Midwest Airlines back in the day Gary? It put AA to shame.

  12. I got the cookie on US Airways from PHL-LAS a few weeks ago so maybe it’s back. Of course, I then pigged out at the Centurion Lounge upon landing.MMMMMM. Brownies

  13. Last week I booked a transcon UA flight on short notice, and was surprised to find all the E+ seats were gone (even though quite a few E- seats were still available). So I do see merit to allowing higher level elites first crack at the upgraded seats.

  14. I am sitting in a newly branded seats and it is AMAZING. The way it conforms to my legs and back makes me not notice the GoGo internet crawling along at dial-up speeds. The back support is so nice, it needs it’s own name… how about “Devaluation Support”. The arms support are perfectly even, which now shows off how uneven my tray table is. But that’s okay. I look forward to having to set an alarm 72 hours before my flight to check in, just like those guys at Southwest do. I now feel included and loved. Thank you Delta.

    – Sincerely yours,
    755k Million Miler out of Atlanta

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