Delta cuts trip customization, quietly eliminates discounted Wi-Fi package
Every airline is making changes to the end-to-end travel experience during the pandemic.
Delta has been at the forefront of the safety and onboard wellbeing campaign. The carrier is blocking seats into 2021, cleaning planes at every turn and more. In April, Delta became the first U.S. airline to extend SkyMiles Medallion elite status through Jan. 2022.
Now, the Atlanta-based carrier is making adjustments to the ticketing process. Specifically, Delta is cutting Trip Extras, effective Thursday, Aug. 27, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the carrier.
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What are Trip Extras?
Trip Extras were a slew of ancillary products available when booking a flight, managing your trip or checking in. For a fee, Delta offered three additional a la carte experiences on top of your ticket — priority boarding, inflight Wi-Fi passes and Mileage Booster.
According to Delta,
"We are retiring Trip Extras effective August 27, but customers will still be able to purchase onboard Wi-Fi ahead of their trip at Delta.com/wifi or once they are on board their flight. All Trip Extras purchased before August 27 will still be available for customers to enjoy."
For $15, coach passengers could purchase priority boarding and secure overhead bin space before others. North America 24-hour Wi-Fi passes were available for $16. Finally, Mileage Booster offered the ability to earn more SkyMiles at a cost of $29 for 1,000 miles, $44 for 2,000 miles and $59 for 3,000 miles.
Related: The complete guide to earning and redeeming Delta SkyMiles
As part of this development, Delta is quietly increasing Wi-Fi pricing for those purchasing a pass before flying. Previously, through Trip Extras, an all-day domestic pass was available for $16. Alternatively, you could opt to purchase the same pass for $19 at Delta.com/wifi.
Now, with the elimination of Trip Extras, flyers are no longer able to purchase the discounted $16 pass. As such, the cost jumps by nearly 20% to $19.
Of course, Delta flyers can always use free inflight messaging if they prefer not to pay for internet access. And hopefully, Delta will soon offer fleetwide free Wi-Fi. But in the meantime, the price increase certainly stings for those who pre-purchase Wi-Fi passes.
Priority boarding remains available to elites, SkyMiles Select members, eligible Amex co-branded cardmembers, certain corporate customers and those purchasing premium cabin fares. Note that Delta has temporarily implemented a back-to-front boarding process due to the pandemic, so priority boarding isn't all that helpful right now.
There's no replacement for Mileage Booster, but purchasing additional SkyMiles was hardly a good deal. The 3,000-mile pack was available for 1.97 cents per point, well above TPG's SkyMiles valuation of 1.2 cents per point. Purchasing Mileage Booster only made sense if you were closing in on an award redemption or didn't have a stockpile of Amex Membership Rewards to transfer to Delta.
Related: The best credit cards for Delta flyers
In a way, Delta's timing is puzzling. Because of the reduced travel demand due to the pandemic, carriers are looking for all the cash they can get. Removing Trip Extras now seems like a lost revenue opportunity.
However, Delta likely didn't have too many passengers purchasing these offerings. As it looks to further customize the travel journey, I wouldn't be surprised if Delta relaunched a tailored version of Trip Extras, including the ability to redeem SkyMiles for trip enhancements. It would also be great if first-class flyers could purchase discounted Wi-Fi packs.
Only time will tell what happens next, but for now, Delta flights will have fewer customization options — and a more expensive Wi-Fi package.