As airlines begin to settle back into relatively normal operations after two years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re also busy changing how they serve their customers. Many have updated their schedules and route maps by adding or dropping flights due to shifting demand, while others have touched up their in-flight service for passengers. Now, Delta Air Lines has added yet another change that will prevent customers from doing one thing while booking seats on flights. Read on to see how this could affect your next trip with the carrier.
Like any industry, airlines are constantly updating the way they serve their customers, whether to hit their budgetary bottom lines or to win over more passengers with their travel plans. But as carriers emerge from two years of decreased ticket sales due to COVID-19, some are going the extra mile to fill seats and maintain a good relationship with their most loyal flyers. This includes Delta Air Lines, which has changed its customer experience in several ways over the past few months.
In March, the carrier announced that it would update its SkyMiles membership program to permanently allow passengers to earn Medallion Qualification Dollars, Medallion Qualification Segments, and Medallion Qualification Miles good towards loyalty status with loyalty the airline even on award flights, The Points Guy reported. Previously, the COVID-era policy was set to expire at the end of 2022, making it the first major airline to announce this passenger perk.
And it’s not just frequent flyers who will notice differences. In March, Delta also brought back hot meals on flights, including three-course service for first and business class passengers. It also updated its amenity kits given to Delta One passengers to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. And it even revived pre-takeoff beverages and snacks for those flying the business tier.
But besides the flight experience itself, Delta has also recently made some changes to the way passengers book their travel with the airline. In the months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline quietly began to block certain passengers from selecting specific seat assignments during booking if they were traveling alone or with just one companion, The Points Guy reports. Now, the airline has confirmed that the policy will be kept in place to make it easier for families or those traveling in groups of three or more to be seated near each other in the airline’s main economy cabin by reserving them a certain number of rows on each flight.
The booking policy, which the airline calls a “dynamic seat-map algorithm,” uses reservation data from previous flights on each route to determine the number of rows it will hold for group or family travelers, The Points Guy reports. This means that popular vacation or leisure routes will often see as many as five to eight rows reserved, while other business-traveler-heavy legs can have as few as two. The company also clarified to The Points Guy that it is only currently blocking rows towards the back of the aircraft for these types of reservations for the time being.
“Being a customer-centric brand means we’re constantly working to offer optimal experiences across travel,” a spokesperson for Delta told The Points Guy. “Taking a dynamic approach with our seat map displays is one way of doing that by providing preferred seating choices in all cabins—at the time of booking or at the gate when working with an agent—for customers traveling alone or with a group.”
But even with the changes, the seats won’t remain blocked to all solo or couple travelers. Any flyers who have platinum or diamond status in the airline’s SkyMiles loyalty program will still be able to select those seats no matter how many people are included in their reservations, Travel + Leisure reports.
If you’re curious as to how many blocked-out rows there are on your next Delta flight, there’s a way you can check. According to The Points Guy, simply perform two separate searches when booking flights, with the first searching for seating availability for one traveler and the other for three or more. The blocked-out seats will appear unavailable for the solo traveler search while remaining open for the larger group query.
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