Last week I took a short (4 day) business trip to the west coast, flying a nonstop roundtrip between Atlanta and Seattle. Departing on a Tuesday afternoon, I’d hoped for the same kind of upgrade luck I’d had on my last trip on the same route, but no joy. Of course, that trip began on a Sunday morning and was operated with a 767-300. This time there were no widebody aircraft in the market so my chances were somewhere between slim and none. My friend, Delta Points, is always keen to remind me that I could have been Diamond. He’s right, I could have. But on this particular series of flights I was seated in the midst of a cabin full of Diamond Medallions flying coach. A Platinum in the Diamond rough? I digress.

Even though I booked the flights about 3 weeks in advance, good Economy Comfort (soon to be Delta Comfort+) seats were hard to come by. Only through obsessive stalking of the seatmap with my iPhone was I ultimately able to procure relatively decent seating, 10C out and 11A back, for the record with 737-900s operating both ways. In fairness, Atlanta – Seattle is a notoriously tough upgrade, and I never actually expected it to clear. I would, however, have expected to make it into the top third or so of the upgrade list, and that’s exactly what I got (almost) – 22 of 61 for 0 seats on the return. 🙂

As we were descending towards Atlanta on Friday I felt compelled to reflect on my time spent in coach. The end result – all the blathering on the internet about upgrades and coach avoidance, including my own, doesn’t change the fact that my flights weren’t that bad. I had a smidge of extra legroom, a power outlet (both USB and 110) both ways, functional internet, and reasonably friendly service that will be even better come March 1 with the addition of complimentary adult beverages and certain snacks.

However, I’ve noticed a disturbing tendency since the fall of 2014. I haven’t been upgraded on a Delta flight….not once, and not even close. I’m sure that at least one upgrade was missed over the holidays because I had the nerve to fly somewhere with my wife and did not split our reservation, but still. A lot of my upgrade “problem” is market specific, and there is nothing I can do about it other than accept the fact that if I “want first” I’ll need to “buy first” in some cases. But for the other half of my flying that isn’t so premium route intensive? The airline guy in me loves things like “first class monetization” to a point. That said, I don’t know about you, but for me, the upgrades are one of the top five reasons I stick to a specific airline. If they disappear completely, so will I. Afterall, I am learning that I can fly coach all the time domestically. And no, I’m not under any delusion that I’d be missed.

-MJ, January 19, 2015

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