Delta’s Unfilled First Class: SkyMiles Members Frustrations Are Growing [Roundup]

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Fools chasing that status that gets them a nice seat in the back because other fools are paying for upgrades that airlines used to give away free. Get off the status wheel people.

  2. Delta proudly brags that it sells ~75% of its First Class seats, does anyone really believe they’re going to bother upgrading Diamond Medallions or other “premium” flyers to a bunch of empty seats in F at the gate when the agents are compensated based on making the push back time? Didn’t think so…

  3. Last week out of PSP, I was 4th on the UG list and there were 4 available seats. I went to the counter, and politely asked when she might begin the upgrade process. She said “just starting that now” and did it. If you are on the UG list and seats are available, definitely take initiative and go ask (politely of course!)

  4. I’ve never understood the fascination with Delta. Can’t get a pdb in Delta 1, Atlanta gate agents are terrible, first class seats are uncomfortable and tight. Transiting through Atlanta is the worst, I’ll take O’Hare in a heartbeat

  5. I quit flying commercial 25 years ago and dealing with airports in general. I found private flying was much less expensive, pilots easier to deal with, etc. True there are no stewardess but the cabins are smaller but the seats are usually larger and you can serve yourself once in the air. In all cases, you land at smaller airports, which are much easier to get in and out of. I know a lot of the pilots by name and they recognize me as more than a faceless person. I wish I had found this avenue of travel much sooner. BTW, my most disliked airline was American Airlines over the years.

  6. The variation in quality – for gate agents and flight attendants at Delta – is as huge as the difference between an NFL Super Bowl team and a high school football team. DL really needs to get a handle on this. It’s a major problem.

  7. HEADLINE: DELTA AIRLINES earned the right to restrict their frequent flyer/credit card spender requirements. The rest of you are just jealous.

  8. I am a Delta Platinum who tried to use upgrade certificates for a Detroit-Phoenix trip. We were on a waitlist for five months and Rev Mgmt NEVER made seats available. That experience made me much less interested in chasing status.

  9. I am a millionmiler with Delta. I am Platinum. And I avoid Delta like the plague. They are the most uncomfortable first class seats out there. Atlanta is a mess… horrible airport..long delays with “legal transfer times” /causing missed flights. Upgrade system a mess. Some of the gate agnets (mot all..many are good) are rude, difficult, unwilling to talk civilly (I learned early on to never ever speak harshly at a gate agne…. so please and thank you from me) as they rudely push you on the plane ignoring simple pleasant requests. And impossible to to use the amazing am0unt of miles I have. They are the the highest miles needed for first class tickets to Euorpe. And the itty bitty business class seats to Euope on most routes are exrutiating with tiny little “holes” to put your feet

  10. Here is the fix, since Delta gate agents get bonus pay for the onetime departures and are refusing upgrades…..just start taking your sweet time boarding when they refuse to upgrade anyone, tell them to kiss your ass by making them pay for their lazy work ethics.

  11. When a forever Delta First Class passenger cant even buy his way into the Club with an AMEX Platinum card it’s time to go somewhere else. America Airlines has the welcome mat out and I intend to check them out. I’ve never felt so unwelcome and unwanted and taken for granted in my entire 70 year life.

  12. I fly DL out of Atlanta exclusively and it has been years since I saw an empty first class seat. I’m not sure where or when these empty seats are going.

  13. @Christian – I don’t think American has partnerships with Virgin Atlantic – that’s more of a Delta thing – but the VA lounge in T3 is quite nice.

  14. I never see empty seats on my Delta flights and I fly enough to be Diamond with them. Maybe this flight was very delayed and they were trying to get it out but every week my flights have upgrades completed it’s seats are available. Two weeks ago I didn’t clear and the gate agent came on to the plane to move me up as a seat opened up in First. That’s been my experience with them.

  15. I have had this happen, and there were like, two of us, and two open seats. I was at the top of the list. The gate agent just kept syaing systems were just coming up. Yes there was an outage, but you are apparently able to board, so you can make the change.

    I just asked the fellow actually swiping the boarding passes, and he made the change right there. I just push to make them do it. It’s obnoxious to have to do that, but they have the time to do it.

    OTOH, I have had Delta upgrade me while on the plane, along with a few others, after boarding was complete. So, they can and do get it right.

  16. On a good day, I’ll just call what these seats truly are, Premium Economy seats, not First Class.

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