Delta Boarding Zones Change: Business Travelers Get Shafted

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Attention frequent business travelers: the next time you board a Delta Airlines flight, your experience will be drastically different. On January 23, you’ll see a substantial Delta boarding zones change that is sure to rankle frequent business travelers, and quite frankly, makes no sense to us. Even as loyal Delta Platinum Medallions for 10+ years, we just don’t get it. In a nutshell, you will now board based on “branded fare class” instead of status.

New Delta Boarding Groups

Here’s a breakdown of the new groups (in boarding order):

  1. Delta One
  2. Premium Select/First Class
  3. Comfort Plus
  4. Sky Priority
  5. Main Cabin 1
  6. Main Cabin 2
  7. Main Cabin 3

Where Do I Fit Now?

Now, let’s get to the part you really care about – when will you get to board?

Delta One

If you are in the Delta One cabin or a Diamond Medallion, you will board in the Delta One group (after pre-boards, of course).

Premium Select/First Class

First class passengers (depending on the aircraft) will board next.

Comfort Plus

This is where many of you will begin to feel the change. Instead of the historical “Sky Priority” group boarding after the Premium cabins, only customers who paid for an upgrade to Comfort Plus or get upgraded board with this group. This can be a big deal, as Comfort Plus passengers receive dedicated overhead bin space.

Sky Priority

Now, Delta Gold and Platinum Medallions who were not upgraded board the plane.

Main Cabin 1

This boarding group is reserved for Silver Medallions (could silver medallion status be any more devalued?), and those who purchased their tickets via a Delta cobranded credit card. Our favorite Delta cobranded card is the Delta American Express Gold Card – it gives us free checked bags and 2x the points earnings on all Delta purchases. Until August 15, 2019, receive 30k bonus miles after spending $1,000 spend in 3 months, plus, receive 50% back in the form of statement credits on purchases made directly with Delta in the first 3 months (up to $300 back).

Note: We don’t expect this to apply to any of you, but those on Basic Economy fares will still board last (with the Main Cabin 3 group). But hey, unlike United, at least Delta includes a carry-on bag in the fare.



Our analysis

With the aim of simplifying its boarding process, Delta has somehow managed to add boarding groups to the process, and once again show its business passengers that loyalty is a one-way street. Instead of focusing on its most profitable customer segment, Delta has followed up the devaluation of award miles and the dramatic increase in required credit card spend to reach Diamond Medallion status by bumping Gold and Platinum Medallions back in the boarding order. It may seem like a small thing in a vacuum, but when will Delta stop the slights against business travelers?

Are you a Delta Medallion member? How will this change affect you? Let us know in the comments below, or write us at [email protected]

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Filed Under: consulting travel