Before COVID Delta’s First Class passengers could usually, at boarding, look forward to a Dasani bottle of water at their seats, a smiling flight attendant ready to take coats, and offered a pre-departure beverage.
In fact, Delta flight attendants were so good at this that in the very rare situation that the preceding could not be accomplished I would find the flight attendant coming to my seat and asking my drink request to be presented ASAP once up in the air and apologizing for not getting it done on the ground.
When Delta suits i.e. big wigs mention the “Delta Difference” the above is what I had come to expect.
The surprising part about this is that all this hard work by fine Delta flight attendants was off the clock. I think most folks were shocked to see on the news this week that all the big American airlines follow the practice of only paying flight attendants once the boarding door is closed.
There is much discussion if this move was made to try to keep Delta flight attendants from joining a union but others are saying it was going to happen anyway. Regardless, I am very happy these fine Delta folks are being paid for work they already have willingly done for years.
COVID has changed a great many things. Pre-flight beverages have for years now been a thing of the past. I hear reports that they are slowly returning on a number of routes (but not all). Hopefully what was is fully back soon.
But the really big change is moving boarding for domestic flights to between 35 or 40 minutes (depending on route) may have some unintended consequences we need to be fully aware of if we are Delta elite Medallion flyers at any level and looking for an upgrade.
For years Delta gate agents were told not to begin clearing gate medallion upgrades until 30 minutes before a flight. When I had a chance to talk one on one with Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian at the grand opening of the massive Atlanta B Sky Club, I asked him if this could be done sooner as it was a big frustration to have to play what we call #TeamBoardLast as once you board you give up your official shot at an upgrade. He said he would look into it and after a few months Delta made the official change and advised gate agents to begin processing upgrades at the 40 minutes mark.
I think you now see my problem?
With boarding now starting for some flights at 40 minutes that is going to be the priority, not clearing medallion upgrades. The fix? Clearly, we need to move the medallion upgrade clear mark to 50 minutes or more before flight!
Again, I am all for the positive side of the Delta changes but as it often is with aviation when you move one piece of the puzzle it can impact the rest and should be addressed. I think it will take some time to adapt to this change and until then it is time again to be one of the last ones to board if my upgrade has not cleared before I get to the gate. – René
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