Free Upgrades on Delta Are Becoming Even Harder to Come By

If you’ve noticed fewer Delta upgrades clearing of late,
you’re not alone. As Delta celebrates
a record quarter
, it’s also rejoicing over a 10% increase in
premium product ticket revenue and double-digit percentage
increases in loyalty and mileage-related income. In lay terms, that
means more people than ever before are paying up for confirmed
seats in business and first class, which means fewer seats than
ever are remaining open for complimentary
upgrades
.

This is a continuation
of a trend
that shows no signs of stopping. While Delta has one
of the most generous free upgrade policies of the major US
airlines, top tier elites should ponder just how valuable that perk
is given this new reality. As the overall economy continues to
thrive and Delta itself makes it ever easier to buy upgrades into
premium cabins, we’re edging closer to a world where “want
first, buy first” becomes the go-to mantra.

In the airline’s
most recent quarter
, 52% of adjusted revenue was derived from
“premium products and non-ticket sources.” Glen Hauenstein,
Delta’s president, noted “record passenger loads and $1 billion
in revenue growth for the June quarter.” Additionally, Delta
notched a new highest-revenue day on July 7.

Delta A220 first classFull
cabins of paying first class customers are becoming more common on
Delta Air Lines (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

In essence, we’re looking at simple math. When more passengers
buy first- and business-class seats, Delta has fewer to hand out as
free upgrades. It also stands to reason that the airline would make
fewer available for use with
Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates
. Delta made it simple
for customers to
exchange their SkyMiles for seat upgrades
at a value of roughly
1 cent per SkyMile, and while that’s
a poor use of miles
from a value standpoint, a huge swath of
casual flyers don’t know any better.

While there’s no direct mention, one can’t help but compare
Delta’s record quarter with
American Airlines’ latest guidance
that came before its
quarterly earnings, scheduled to be released July 25. There,
ongoing disputes with mechanics and
the impact
from the Boeing 737 MAX grounding
have caused the airline to shrink
for the first time since
before its merger with US Airways.

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Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News2
Free Upgrades on Delta Are Becoming Even Harder to Come By