On November 5, Delta announced it will "align" several of its fees and policies with those of Northwest, following the recently finalized merger between the two carriers. This alignment includes a fee for the first-checked bag, which will come as a disappointing though hardly surprising move for Delta fans. But the news isn't all bad.
Here are the details:
- Delta will adopt Northwest's $15 fee for the first checked bag and its $25 fee for the second checked bag. Delta did not previously charge for the first bag, but it did charge $50 for the second, so Delta passengers will actually pay less to check two bags than before ($35 total now versus $50 before the change). The change applies to tickets booked on or after November 5 for travel on or after December 5.
- Delta will eliminate the existing fuel surcharges, ranging between $25 and $100, for award travel within the U.S. or Canada booked through SkyMiles or WorldPerks. These surcharges were added earlier this year to combat high fuel costs. The change is effective immediately.
- Delta will also implement Northwest's
Coach Choice program, which assesses extra charges for "preferred" coach seats, including exit-row, aisle, and window locations. Fees for these seats will range between $5 and $25. Previously, Delta had no such program. As was the case at Northwest, certain elite frequent flyers may select Coach Choice seats at no cost. This change apparently began last week.
- Effective immediately, Delta will knock $5 off the cost of phone bookings, both for regular and award tickets, bringing the charge down from $25 to $20. Starting December 5, the airline will also eliminate curbside check-in fees, which had previously been $3.
The airline also says any other discrepancies between baggage policies will be ironed out by December 5, so I'll keep an eye out for any changes that might affect you.
This sort of alignment was inevitable, but I have to say these changes, on balance, could be a lot worse. Delta passengers who previously flew with one checked bag will certainly not be happy with the new charge, but people with two checked bags will actually save $15 compared to Delta's old fee structure. The Coach Choice program is a negative for Delta flyers, but it was an obvious move for the airline. Clearly, eliminating the frequent flyer fuel surcharge and lowering the phone reservations fees are good things.
What do you think about Delta's new fees? About the merger in general? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.