Delta will restart automatic elite upgrades to first class and Comfort+

Jun 4, 2020

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Every airline is approaching social distancing differently. While most U.S. carriers are blocking middle seat assignments, few are going so far as the cap the number of tickets they’ll sell on each flight.

Of the major U.S. airlines, only four — Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest — are capping ticket sales. On Wednesday, Delta became the first carrier to extend its social distancing policy through the summer.

And in that announcement, the Atlanta-based carrier also confirmed that it’s restarting automatic upgrades beginning on Wednesday, June 10.

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When Delta first introduced its social distancing policy, the airline temporarily stopped processing upgrades in advance. This way, gate agents could ensure that they didn’t go over the seat cap for the forward cabins. The caps have now been automated, so upgrades will once again be processed in advance.

Delta Airbus A220 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

This is great news for those who’ve restarted traveling. A bump to first class will ensure that there’s no one sitting on your side of a narrowbody plane, since first class is capped at 50% capacity. In addition to first-class upgrades, Delta is also restarting Comfort+ upgrades, as well as those to Delta One on lie-flat equipped jets on domestic segments.

While first-class upgrades are subject to availability with the 50% cap, Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members will clear beginning 120 hours (5 days) prior to departure, Gold Medallion Members will clear beginning 72 hours (3 days) prior to departure and Silver Medallion Members will clear beginning 24 hours (1 day) prior to departure.

Coach and Comfort+ is capped at 60% of available seating. For Comfort+ upgrades, Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members will be confirmed shortly after ticketing, if there are seats available. Gold Medallion Members will clear beginning 72 hours (3 days) prior to departure and Silver Medallion Members will clear beginning 24 hours (1 day) prior to departure. Again, all subject to seat availability within the caps.

Related: The ultimate guide to getting upgraded on Delta

Of the U.S. “big three” carriers, United has also paused automatic elite upgrades in advance. Like Delta, UA is manually processing them at the gate before departure. The Chicago-based carrier hasn’t announced when it plans to restart automatically clearing upgrades. American Airlines, on the other hand, has continued to process elite upgrades in advance throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta Airbus A220 (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

As travel slowly begins to restart, Delta loyalists will certainly appreciate knowing whether or not they’ve been upgraded well before departure. Though you’re promised an empty middle seat in coach, most flyers would likely appreciate the extra space up front. Plus, if you didn’t score the upgrade on your desired flight, you’ll also have the opportunity to make a same-day change to a flight with better odds.

Nonetheless, even if you do indeed score the upgrade, note that the inflight service will likely look a lot different than before.

Featured photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images



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