With surprisingly little fanfare, Delta this week added a potentially significant perk to entry-level elite status in its SkyMiles program.
Beginning October 10, 2016 Silver Medallion Members are eligible for Unlimited Complimentary First Class Upgrades on Award Travel 24 hours prior to departure. Relax before reaching your destination and arrive refreshed and ready to go.
Of course, with upgrades, it’s a zero-sum game. On any given flight, there are only a limited number of seats, if any, available for upgrades, and Silver elites traveling on award tickets will be among the lowest on the priority list to receive them.
So, a welcome reward for customer loyalty, or a an empty gesture? Reactions on Flyertalk were mixed. A sampling:
I think this is an extremely generous move on Delta’s part!
While a nice gesture, given it will only matter on lightly booked F cabins with few medallions on board (rather rare these days) I wouldn’t call it “extremely generous.” It’s more of a token gesture with minimal actual cost to DL.
This is good news, but the number of these upgrades that will be handed out seems vanishingly slim.
Good luck with that – I would bet the amount of Slivers who see an upgrade would be approaching zero percent.
The generally skeptical tone of the comments is likely an accurate assessment of the new policy’s impact on Silver Medallions’ scant chances of snagging upgrades on their award trips. On the other hand, if it resulted in a single upgrade in a year, that would be a plus.
In the world of airline loyalty, gift horses don’t come around often. Or, in this case, a gift pony.
Reader Reality Check
Is this a meaningful change for you, or not?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
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