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I went to South Africa for the first time back in January, and I loved the country so much that I decided spur-of-the-moment to book another quick trip there in a few weeks for a visit to Cape Town. Though last time I flew non-stop from JFK-Johannesburg and then on to Cape Town on South African Airways in business class using 110,000 US Airways miles roundtrip.
I’m in the midst of elite status requalification strategizing, though, so this time around, not only did I want to try another airline option, but I wanted to score as many elite-qualifying miles as possible, so I booked a roundtrip ticket from New York to Cape Town via Amsterdam on KLM, which should net me 19,280 MQM’s on Delta roundtrip, almost a third of the required miles to requalify for Platinum Medallion.
The one thing I’m dreading, though, is flying about 20 hours in economy! As you all probably know by now, I’m 6’7″ and coach seats are just not a real possibility for me. I depend on miles and status for upgrades. However, one of the reasons I booked KLM is specifically because of their Economy Comfort seats, which I fit into quite well, actually, and some of which don’t have seats in front of them, meaning I can stretch out my legs.
While I was buying the ticket through Delta.com, I tried to select an Economy Comfort seat online during the seat selection process, but I was having trouble. It would only let me select regular economy seats, even though I was logged into my account as a Platinum Medallion.
Not wanting to commit to the ticket until I figured out if I could snag one of the preferred seats, I decided to call Delta’s Medallion desk and see what they could do for me.
I talked to a really friendly agent who was able to find my itinerary quickly and while I was on the phone with her, she was able to assign me a KLM Economy Comfort seat at no extra charge – and better yet, since I’ll be flying on KLM’s 777-300 and 777-200, there are a few Economy Comfort seats with no seat in front of them and she was able to get me one of them on all four flights, so I’ll have plenty of room.
Even better – each of those flights between New York and Amsterdam would have cost me $120 per segment to upgrade to Economy Comfort, and the flights between Amsterdam and Cape Town would have been $213, so altogether I am saving $666.
I’ve heard in the past that Platinum and Diamond Medallions receive this benefit, but it’s been a while since the last time I booked on KLM, was when I booked the $130 fare to Copenhagen and I got Economy Comfort automatically.
Delta’s current policy in regards to Economy Comfort on KLM is as follows:
- You can select 90 days to 48 hrs prior to departure on KLM’s site or by calling up Delta
- If it’s 48 hours or prior to departure you can select through online check-in, at an airport kiosk, or by calling up a phone representative
- You’ll receive 4 more inches of legroom and up to a 100% increase in recline
KLM Economy Comfort Pricing Discounts:
- Free for Diamond/ Platinum Medallion
- 50% off for Gold Medallion
- 25% off for Silver Medallion
- Also worth mentioning that free for Flying Blue Platinum and 50% off for Flying Blue Gold and SkyTeam Elite Plus
Another way to get these seats, is by logging into KLM using your record locator, and as long as your Platinum or Diamond Medallion status is indicated on the record, you should be able to select your seat free of charge, though I found it was easier just to call up Delta directly.
Although I had to go through a little bit of a process to secure my Economy Comfort seats, I think it will be well worth it, and being able to select them for free is actually a great benefit for Medallion members, since upgrading can cost hundreds of dollars per segment.
Plus, for me, being able to get a seat assignment in Economy Comfort at the time of booking made the difference between actually booking the flight or looking for other options since I couldn’t take the chance that I’d have to sit through the whole itinerary in Economy (which is a nice product on KLM, I just don’t fit in the seat!). I’m also crossing fingers for an operational upgrade (if coach is oversold) or the chance to buy upgrades- my friend just flew Amsterdam-Capetown on KLM and was offered a business class upgrade for $400- I’m pretty sure I’d pay that to have business class for 10 hours!
All in all, I’m happy with my booking, and since this is such a nice benefit, I hope that Delta doesn’t decide to devalue this one, such as only letting Medallions select these seats at check-in as opposed to at time of booking.
For more about my last trip to South Africa, you can read the series of posts I wrote as I traveled, which include the following: Come Along With Me To South Africa!; Flight Review: South African Airways Business Class JFK-JNB; Hotel Review: Westin Cape Town; Trip Report: Watching African Penguins at Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope; Cape Town Dining; Hotel Review: Hilton Cape Town; Hotel Review: 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa Luxury Room; Trekking Up Table Mountain In Cape Town; Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg; Trip Report: South Africa Safari at Savanna Lodge in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve; Safari Highlights at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa.