Yesterday, Delta announced some welcome changes for its top tier platinum and diamond medallion flyers. This is especially good news considering the series of downgrades to the program we’ve seen over the last year. Regrettably, the move targets only Delta’s super-elite…the SkyMiles world is still a relatively cold and lonely place for those carrying silver and gold.
FREE INTERNATIONAL UPGRADES…Well, almost. Diamond Medallions will finally have international upgrade certificates they can use on any flight no matter what fare they paid. Beginning in March of next year, Diamond members can select 4 Global Upgrades as one of their Choice benefits. These are good on any fare (except for the most restricted, and rare, E class) and subject to availability (we’ve been unable to determine how easy or hard this might be since Delta blocked Expert Flyer from showing upgrade space). Previously, systemwide upgrades were only good on pricey Y, B, or M fares. This move puts Delta in line with American, which offers similar systemwide upgrades to its top tier on any fare and above United, which requires a certain fare class to use systemwide upgrades. The new Global upgrades will also work on certain higher fare classes on KLM for upgrades to business and on Air France for upgrades to Premium Economy. Regional upgrades are another Choice option made available for Platinum (four certificates) and Diamond Medallions (eight certificates) and are good on any economy fare (except for E class). They are available to use on any flight that traditionally offers complimentary upgrades and can be requested and confirmed in advance. If no space is available, these upgrade certificates will receive a higher priority than complimentary upgrades.
UPGRADE CHANGES…If you are Hawaii-bound, Delta is now following United’s footsteps to offer free Medallion upgrades on flights that depart from Western cities. Flights from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle to Hawaii are now eligible for Medallion upgrades, but the Atlanta-Honolulu nonstop is not. Nor are any of Delta’s “direct” flights that stop over on the west coast on the way to Hawaii. Delta giveth and taketh away though. Beginning March 1 of next year, those premium, flat-bedded, transcontinental flights between JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle (which don’t touch ATL) will no longer be eligible for complimentary upgrades. This means that a Diamond Medallion would have to redeem a Global upgrade, redeem miles, or purchase a business class fare (currently in the $3,500 range) to sit up front on those plush transcons.
MORE CHOICE BENEFITS…Platinum and Diamond Medallions that reach certain flying thresholds will also have more choices next year. In addition to the new regional and global upgrades, starting in March Delta will add Global Entry application fee waivers (Diamond Medallion members get two and Platinum Medallion members get one. Value: $100 each) and two Diamond Medallion luggage tags from Tiffany & Co.
Here’s Delta’s announcement regarding the coming changes.
Please leave your comments about the changes below!
DELTA CHEER CARTS MAKE HOLIDAY APPEARANCE…Delta’s flight attendants and pilots will be rolling out “cheer carts” at various locations in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle throughout the month. On the carts will be a selection of drinks, snacks, and gifts offered to passersby to promote the holiday spirit. Coca-Cola products and Biscoff are expected giveaways, but other treats will include airline swag like wings, t-shirts, scarves, and water bottles. Look for the carts on city streets throughout the holiday season as part of the airline’s surprise and delight efforts. To find out where the nearest cart may appear, visit Delta’s Facebook and Twitter profiles for more details. To watch the holiday video that features the cheer carts in action, click here.
GOT CASH?, BUY MQMS…If you are short of MQMs for the year, Delta is following repeating its annual year-end opportunity to buy access to elite status at ridiculously high prices. (The deal was a lot better in leaner times! Remember this? Or the time Delta offered up to 15,000 MQMs for those who donated to charities like AID Atlanta or Grady Hospital? Those were the days!) Anyway… for flyers who are still missing MQMs, buying them is rarely the answer unless time is of the essence. Delta knows that many customers will come up short at the end of the year and has traditionally cashed in on those that need that slight nudge to the next level. The rates vary depending upon your Medallion level, so hold your nose and at least go check this link. We are already getting comments about this like this one from CL: “Have you seen this year’s version of “buy your way to Medallion?” What a rip. Prices have doubled. Remember a few years ago where making a couple of $500 donations could get you 10k, and then last year, $995 cash got you 10k? This year it is $1,995 – what are they thinking?”
HOLIDAY FAVOR? Hey TICKET readers, will you please do us a favor? Please copy and paste the link to this post, forward it to at least FIVE FRIENDS and encourage them to sign up for The TICKET! We need more readers and this would help out immeasurably! THANK YOU!!
SOUTHWEST DITCHES THREE CITIES…Bags will no longer fly free from three cities beginning next summer when Southwest ditches service to Branson, Missouri; Jackson Mississippi; and Key West, Florida. None was able to sustain the demand that Southwest needed to continue operations there. The cities will be dropped from the route map next summer.
DELTA BUMPS ENTIRE FLIGHT…Delta received some unwanted press recently when a Delta Connection flight was canceled for maintenance reasons from Gainesville, Fla. to Atlanta. Passengers may not have been so upset if they had not noticed the University of Florida basketball team boarding their same aircraft. They later learned that their flight was canceled so that the team could make their scheduled game in Connecticut. While the gate agent was not entirely forthcoming to passengers as to why the flight was canceled, Delta was certainly within reason to cancel the flight. The basketball team is also a Delta customer (sports charters are big business for airlines), and canceling one flight to move aircraft to serve another flight for maintenance reasons is not uncommon. What do you think about what happened? Would you have upset if the gate agent had been more honest about the situation?
SOUTHWEST SURPRISES FLYERS WITH NINTENDO…In a nifty partnership with Nintendo, customers aboard Southwest flight 1883 from New Orleans to Dallas Love Field on Nov. 26 received a free Wii U console. Mario, of Super Mario Brothers, was awaiting customers in the terminal to hand out their new high-definition video game system. Lucky flyers!
ATLANTA AIRPORT MANAGER RETIRES…Hartsfield Jackson’s airport manager is planning to retire on Jan. 3 after spending 37 years in the aviation industry. He has worked at Atlanta’s airport since 2010. Louis Miller has helped boost the airport’s economic status in the community while also managing the successful opening of the Maynard H. Jackson international terminal. A new interim manager will step in until another airport chief is hired.
AVOID HOLIDAY HASSLES WITH VALET PARKING AT ATL! Have you noticed the flurry of men and women in green blazers on the lower level passenger pick up areas at ATL? They are new parking valet attendants from GreenCoat Auto Concierge & Valet service. For $20 per day, you can now drive to the airport, leave your car with a GreenCoat at the terminal, and head off on your trip. The valet will drive your car to a secure, indoor, off-airport lot and park it. When you return, just call GreenCoat and let them know you’re coming, and an attendant will bring your car back to the airport terminal, hand it over to you, and you drive home. Nice! GreenCoat has just signed on as a sponsor of The TICKET so you’ll be hearing more about the service in coming months. Give it a try and let us know how it goes! NOTE: ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. Special for TICKET readers: First timers get 1,000 Delta SkyMiles!
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