MORE FIRST CLASS. This week Delta announced it will install 13 percent more first class seats on its domestic aircraft, noting that this will improve the upgrade chances of Medallion members and provide a boost to its bottom line. MD-88 aircraft will go from 14 to 16 seats up front while the MD-90 will go from 12 to 16. The Boeing 757 will see a boost from 24 to 28 seats while the 13 domestic Boeing 767s will get an extra row up front creating a jump from 24 to 30 seats. Good news: Seat pitch in coach won’t be affected. Delta will make room on its MD-88s and MD-90s by removing rear galleys. On the others, it will remove closets to make way for more first class seats.
BLACKBERRY LOVE FROM DELTA. Delta’s new Blackberry app is now live and can be downloaded from the Blackberry AppWorld Store or by visiting delta.com/app. Similar to the iPhone app, this mobile tool allows you to search flight schedules, check in for a flight, get an electronic boarding pass, monitor your SkyMiles balance, and check flight and gate status. Plans are under way to allow acceptance of a new itinerary when a delay occurs or to choose alternate flight options. Glad to see Blackberry users were not forgotten in the iPhone craze! Delta says that an Android app is in the works, but there is no date set for release.
HEARTIER FARE AT SKY CLUBS. Delta Sky Club members have something to look forward to on their next visit. New food offerings include hot oatmeal in the morning hours and hot soup for the remainder of the day. It is unclear whether these additions are permanent changes or simply a winter treat, but according to club agents, customer response has been overwhelmingly positive. They also report that members are strongly in favor of providing heartier items such as soup to complement the healthier (but lighter) vegetable tray and fruits already on offer.
GET READY FOR THE DELTA UP SELL. During Delta’s recent investor presentation, executives indicated that delta.com would be an important component in the company’s goal to boost revenue. Already in place are numerous opportunities for users to buy Sky Club passes, hotel and car rental offers, and travel insurance. Starting sometime next year, Delta is expected to make more attempts to “up sell” customers during the booking process on Delta.com. It could work something like this: Let’s say you buy an ATL-SFO coach roundtrip for $600…delta.com will say, hey, if you pay $198 more, we can put you in first (since that is the cost for a deeply discounted first class fare vs. the refundable Y fare you purchased). Simply put, Delta hopes to up sell you to a higher fare class by showing you the difference if you’re “close.” If you buy a deeply discounted $200 ticket, it won’t say, “Hey, if you pay $800 more, you get first class”… because you obviously weren’t interested in purchasing a premium fare to begin with. Good or bad idea? LET US KNOW! Leave your comments below.
BRAZIL BOUND? SkyMiles members can now take advantage of a new partnership with Brazilian airline Gol by redeeming and earning miles on the carrier. As one of the largest airlines in Brazil (it now owns the shrunken assets of Varig Airlines, once the country’s flag carrier), Gol flies an extensive domestic network in addition to having a heavy presence in regional and continental markets. While it’s considered a low-fare carrier (the “Southwest Airlines of Brazil”), it does offer a premium-economy-like product on select routes. Those flying Gol and crediting miles to SkyMiles between now and Feb. 28 can take advantage of a special triple miles bonus offer. Be sure to register at delta.com/brazilbonus. (Note: Your TICKET editor will travel to Brazil in January to take a peek at the this Latin American economic juggernaut. Tips and advice are welcomed! firstname.lastname@example.org)
DO FLY FOR ME ARGENTINA. Speaking of South America, SkyTeam just got a boost now that Aerolineas Argentinas has applied for membership to the Delta-led alliance. It will be the first South American partner for SkyTeam; South America was deemed to be a “white spot” for the alliance with little presence in comparison with Star Alliance and oneworld. Aeromexico is SkyTeam’s major Latin American partner, and the addition of Aerolineas Argentinas (which is undergoing a major rebranding to improve its once flailing image following its former ownership by Spanish company Grupo Marsans) will bring a strong presence for Delta flyers heading south of the Equator.
ROLLING OVER. How many MQMs have you earned this year? Remember that MQMs over a certain tier level now roll over to the following year. This benefit helps members achieve Medallion status faster and also encourages choosing Delta even after you’ve reached your desired Medallion tier. Remember, you have until Dec. 31 at midnight to rack in those last few MQMs. But there’s still that lingering question…if you fly overnight on 12/31/10 and land on 1/1/11, in which year do the MQMs post? The answer: 2010!
NEED SOME JUICE? Running low on battery power? Your next Delta flight may be better thanks to new power pole stations the airline is installing at each of its gates in Atlanta. The new charging stations will provide numerous outlets close to the gate area so you don’t need to stray far to juice up before your flight. No more hunting under chairs or behind garbage cans for the coveted power outlet. The $4.3 million investment from Delta for these charging stations will cover polls at Atlanta, JFK, and more than a dozen other major airports. Plans are underway to install these in the coming year.
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