Frequent flyers who book Delta flights with regularity may soon find their loyalty rewarded with an upgrade offer fit for royalty.
The airline has announced the kickoff of a brand new perk for SkyMiles Medallion members that will enable them to pay a deeply discounted fee to bypass commercial flights and gain access to private jet flights instead.
While the perk provides regular travelers a chance to experience luxury flight for themselves, it also helps shore up a financial drain experienced by the company’s Delta Private Jets (DPJ) division.
How the Program Works
Passengers with a desire to experience high-end travel won’t be able to call Delta to request an upgrade. The program is designed to put Delta in the driver’s seat when it comes to offering passengers the opportunity to fly in style.
Flying customers with the appropriate number of points will be contacted directly by the airline via email should their flight plans qualify for the option. Should that email arrive, passengers will have to pay an upgrade fee of $300 to $800, depending on their destination, to take advantage of the private flight.
The private flights will only be available in select markets, mainly focused on the airline’s East Coast hubs.
Frequent flyers will find the upgrade is only available to Medallion members who travel at least 25,000 miles (or 30 segments) annually and spend at least $3,000 with the airlines.
The upgrade offers will primarily involve travel that’s scheduled the next day, but Delta Private Jets says its fleet of 66 planes may be able to offer some travelers as much as 48 hours’ notice, depending on scheduling.
Solving a Problem
Delta’s upgrade program wasn’t necessarily designed solely to reward and benefit the most frequent of frequent flyers. It also serves to plug a financial and logistical hole experienced in the DPJ division.
DPJ is the company’s elite fleet of aircraft that is made available to high-end customers willing to pay an average of $5,000 an hour to avoid commercial flights.
Getting those planes positioned to carry full-price customers, however, requires DPJ pilots to fly a number of “empty legs” a year. That means a plane that dropped off a full-paying passenger in Boston might have to turn around with a vacant cabin to pick up the next full fare in New York.
The rewards program serves to fill some of those empty legs with a partial-pay customer that provides the company at least some income to cover those formerly empty flights.
Delta hasn’t said how soon the new upgrades, which were announced July 27, will take flight.
SkyMiles Medallion customers, however, may want to start keeping an eye on their email inboxes for the offers, which include transportation to the airport’s private aviation areas and complimentary onboard catering.
“This is an innovative way for us to thank valued Delta customers for their loyalty,” explained Delta Vacations president John Caldwell.