Delta Assigning Basic Economy Passengers Comfort Plus Seats Instead of Medallions

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One of the benefits of being a Delta Medallion is unlimited complimentary upgrades to First Class and Comfort Plus. If there is upgrade inventory available in advance, Medallions are upgraded at that time, however more often than not, upgrades will occur at the gate.

On a recent trip, I noticed that the flight went from 6 Comfort Plus seats an hour before the flight, down to just 1 seat, 30 minutes prior as a result of the gate agents clearing Basic Economy passengers into Comfort Plus.

Here’s what happened:

On a recent Delta flight out of Los Angeles, that was full and possibly even oversold by a few passengers, there was a long list of passengers awaiting seats. These passengers were likely on Basic Economy, E fares, who are typically assigned seats at the gate.

An hour prior, according to the Gate Information Display screen, there were 6 seats in Comfort Plus, and 2 seats in Business Class. Fast forward to boarding, and both seats in Business Class showed that passengers were upgraded, however of the 6 seats in Comfort Plus, only 1 of the seats showed as an upgrade. The other 5 were assigned, to passengers awaiting a seat assignment. 

What should have happened, was the gate agents should have upgraded the 6 Medallion members from the Main Cabin to Comfort Plus, and then assigned those 6 “additional” seats in the Main Cabin to those Basic Economy passengers awaiting seats. However, the gate agents skipped this step and just assigned Comfort Plus seats to Basic Economy passengers. 

Delta has responded with the following statement: 

While the situation described does not align with Delta’s upgrade policy/procedure, there is not a way to determine the Medallion level of other customers or the fare product another customer purchased via gate upgrade or standby displays. Any customer who feels they were not given the correct seat assignment should share their concern with customer care, who will review their inquiry

On one hand, the flight was full and the gate agents wanted to get it out of time, however it diminishes the integrity of their upgrade policy for Medallion members, and also encouraging Basic Economy tickets to be purchased.

Has anyone else noticed Comfort Plus seats being assigned to Basic Economy passengers rather than Medallions when there is a lengthy upgrade list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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  1. Yes this happened on my flight from ATL – RDU yesterday. GA cleared everyone on standby / waiting for seat assignment before clearing the F/C+ list.

    Thankfully only one person cleared up to a C+ seat and I still ended up with a whole C+ row to myself but only after prompting the GA to clear the F/C+ list ***while boarding SKY***

  2. Yep. BWI-SLC. In fact, there were empty economy comfort + seats. I had an exit row, so no big deal, but I’ve noticed some shenanigans with not cleaning medallions when seats are available.

  3. Not as bad as being downgraded 6 months in advance from a First class seat to comfort on equipment change flight. First was wide open if I was booking but under change seat only comfort showed up. Spent an hour on phone with no luck. Finally twittered Delta and was fixed pretty fast. they didn’t understand it either. This was a paid ticket.

  4. The inconsistent upgrade policy, the preference to sell seats to non-medallions at check-in for a few dollars (as low as $71 in my experience) made this long time Platinum Medallion switch to Southwest for domestic travel. I actually found myself buying First Class tickets as a Platinum (Delta’s master plan) but that only made me resentful, because when one is upgraded and the service is disappointing then you move on. But if one pay’s for better service and it’s still disappointing, then I allowed Delta to dupe myself. Southwest has a good hard product and even better soft product. The companion pass is a tangible benefit where being Medallion is not worth your loyalty, because Delta, even with a stellar hard product, will turn on you the first chance they can. Why pay for faux loyalty by flying through hubs when, from my home city, Southwest has dozens of additional nonstop destinations saving me valuable time, and regardless if your elite or not, your business at Southwest is appreciated by genuine acts of kindness. I remember when I used to be Diamond and never sat in coach, and rarely for a Paltinum. Not so for some time. I’d rather sit in coach on Southwest and be treated like I was in First Class. I’ve never been disappointed flying Southwest. Don’t believe the cattle call boarding scare tactics. Once you figure out the system, you will prefer the boarding protocols over Delta or any other airline.

  5. This happened to me on a flight out of ATL. 2 seats in Comfort Plus, flight was full with a bunch of Basic Economy passengers with seat request cards. Rather than upgrade Medallions they just cleared the passengers with BE tickets into Comfort Plus.

  6. I’ve had various levels of status with Delta for years and understand exactly how the author (as well as many of those commenting) have based their ideas that Delta was giving Economy Comfort seats to Basic Economy customers. However, I’ve also had the unique experience of understanding another aspect of the aviation industry through my wife’s family – as she is the daughter of a retired Delta pilot. There is another class of passenger that most business travelers have no awareness of: aviation employees, or “non-rev”. When there are remaining seats on a flight, the gate agents will almost always give the best seats to any employees, family of employees or others on “buddy-passes” – because while airlines show appreciation to frequent flyers by offering free upgrades, they also take care of their own. So, while it appeared that 5 of the 6 remaining Economy Comfort seats went to Basic Economy customers, based on the passenger list on the monitor, it’s far more likely they went to non-rev passengers who were either dead-heading or flying on buddy passes.

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