Delta Upgrade Improvement: No More Automatic Comfort+ Middle Seats… For Some

Feb 9, 2019

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Delta’s been making small steps to improve its SkyMiles program, and recently introduced the ability to upgrade with miles. On Wednesday it rolled out the ability to upgrade with miles via its mobile app, but what’s even more intriguing is a significant improvement to the upgrade process the carrier has quietly been testing since September.

A common complaint of many Delta elite passengers is the the way the upgrade process currently works. Unlike American and United, which allow their elite flyers to choose an Economy Plus or Main Cabin Extra (their extra-legroom economy product) seat at time of booking, Delta actually upgrades its elites to Comfort+ after they’ve purchased the ticket.

Delta essentially treats Comfort+ as a different cabin. For higher-level Diamond and Platinum elites, these upgrades usually clear quite quickly after booking a ticket. Comfort+ upgrades for Golds and Silvers start at 72 and 24 hours before departure, respectively.

Delta Comfort+ seats onboard one of Delta's internationally configured 757-200 that operates transcon flights like SFO - JFK
Delta Comfort+ seats onboard one of Delta’s internationally configured 757-200 that operates transcon flights like SFO – JFK. Image by Wallace Cotton/The Points Guy)

The issue Delta elites have is that after choosing a window or aisle seat in coach when purchasing their ticket, they are then upgraded to a Comfort+ middle seat. Many elites would rather stay in their original seat in the back of the cabin than take the option that gives them more legroom but squishes them between two other flyers.

To alleviate this, Delta started allowing elites to reverse a Comfort+ upgrade. It’s also testing an option that allows its elites to opt out of upgrades to Comfort+ if it means they have to take a middle seat.


An older screenshot of how the Comfort+ seat upgrade preferences were appearing in the app. Screenshot courtesy of Jonathan L. in the TPG Lounge.

We’ve received more reader reports that Delta is continuing to trial this feature and that it’s getting more customizable. Screenshots show that you can “only upgrade if my Seat Preferences are available.” In this case you can add aisle, window and middle seats to your preferences. In previous tests we’ve seen, you couldn’t be as specific and were barred from choosing to apply those preferences to all segments of the trip. 

New Comfort+ seat upgrade preferences. Image courtesy of TPG reader Chris M.

The trial appears to be random. Three TPG staffers including Managing Editor Alberto Riva and Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz, both Delta Platinum Medallions, have not seen the offer in their app. Reviews Editor Nick Ellis, who’s a top-tier Delta Diamond, wasn’t targeted for the tests either. TPG reader and Delta Gold Medallion Chris M. sent us the above screenshot showing the new seat upgrade preferences.

We reached out to Delta to find out more and they provided the following statement:

Based on Medallion Member feedback and as a part of our ongoing effort to improve the customer experience, Delta is testing the ability for Medallion Members to choose their seat preferences on a flight-by-flight basis for complimentary upgrades to Delta Comfort+, ultimately resulting in a better upgrade experience for this loyal group of customers.

For more, read:

Featured photo of Darren Murph / The Points Guy.

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