Is It Possible to Opt out of Delta Comfort+ Upgrades?
Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
Frequent travelers tend to spend a lot of time chasing complimentary upgrades, so it's hard to imagine why someone would want to turn one down — or even opt out of the upgrade process entirely. However, many Delta elites who've been auto-upgraded to middle seats in the carrier's Comfort+ cabin find themselves in exactly this predicament. TPG reader Zach wants to know if there's a mechanism to avoid this ...
[pullquote source="TPG READER ZACH"]Is it possible to opt out of Delta Comfort+ upgrades to make sure I don't end up in a middle seat?[/pullquote]
In order to fully understand this question, it's important to talk about one of the key ways in which Delta's business model is different than that of United or American Airlines. Delta has made a point of branding all of its cabins, from Comfort+ to Delta One. As a result, Delta Medallion members who book standard economy can't just pick Comfort+ seats; they must be upgraded to them. Most elite members with United and American, on the other hand, can simply select seats in similar, extra-legroom sections — termed Main Cabin Extra on American and Economy Plus on United.
When Delta first rolled out this upgrade program, it created some unfortunate situations. Some people who'd selected exit-row seats for the extra room found themselves "upgraded" to a middle seat in Comfort+, while others wound up in a bulkhead on a regional jet with a large backpack or briefcase — hardly a better spot. Delta listened to this feedback from its elite members, and in 2017 added the ability to restrict automatic Comfort+ upgrades to just window and/or aisle seats.
Delta recently took this one step further and started testing a process that allows elites to reverse a Comfort+ upgrade once the seat has been selected. This feature hasn't yet been rolled out system-wide, but once Delta is done perfecting it, elite members should get complimentary upgrades only when they want them. Because Delta is the only US airline to auto-upgrade its elite members to different seats in the economy cabin, it's also the only carrier to have this unique problem.
If Zach is worried about getting stuck in a middle seat due to an "upgrade," he can opt out of automatic upgrades to Comfort+ when they'd land him in a middle seat — which can be done in the settings on his Delta account. In the near future, he might even be able to reverse an upgrade if the aisle/window seats he gets is not to his liking. One thing's for sure, however: There's no need to opt out of all Comfort+ upgrades if he's fearful of being sandwiched between other passengers.