Is Delta’s SkyMiles Select Subscription Worth It?

Delta has been leading the way in monetizing their offerings. They’ve done it by, among other things, decreasing the number of people who can get into their SkyClubs while at the same time charging for food and drinks when inside, or by charging extra for their “preferred” seats on the plane. They’ve been successful in their endeavors so far because of their ability to price these items where they feel worthwhile. They’ll even offer paid upgrades to first-class seats at check-in for a reasonable up-charge, which means there’s even less upgrade space, much to the chagrin of the most loyal, and valuable Delta flyers.

So when I received an email from Delta introducing me to their new SkyMiles Select service, I gave it a look.

For Delta frequent flyers or those who are into miles and points, this offer is a hard pass, but might it be a good choice for some less frequent Delta travelers?

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What Are Delta’s “Preferred” Seats and Should You Pay Extra to Sit There?

Knowledge is power, or so Schoolhouse Rock taught me during my youth.

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Once upon a time, we were flying on Delta and I knew we’d be on an MD-88 aircraft.  I generally don’t mind this plane for shorter flights because it has a 3-2 seating arrangement. With that, I can choose to sit on the side with two seats and then Sharon can have the window (her favorite) and I can have the aisle (my favorite). Plus we have the bonus of not needing to worry about who will sit in the middle seat. One of the downsides of that plane is the overhead bin on the two-seat side is smaller and doesn’t fit many carry-on bags. Everyone has to put their larger bags on the side with three seats, since those are larger bins and those who board later usually have to gate check their bags because all the space has been taken.

I didn’t want to have to gate check a carry-on bag if I didn’t absolutely have to, so I found a way to board the plane with one of the first boarding groups. Here’s how I did it:

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I Just Don’t See The Appeal Of Bulkhead Seats

Airlines know what seats people will pay the most for. Therefore, they’ve separated the cabin into seat categories and charge a fee according to the demand for each type of seat. The categories vary from something as simple as preferred seats, which aren’t any different from other seats besides being closer to the front of the plane than the back. Some low-cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier will charge extra for all the aisle and window seats, knowing people will pay to avoid being in the dreaded middle seat (although that may change in the future).

The next section airlines will charge more for are the “extra” seats. These are the seats the airlines install with some extra legroom. There are multiple reasons for airlines to have these seats. They’re the ones frequent flyers can choose when buying a ticket so they ensure they can have a comfortable flight. For the rest of the passengers who don’t want to be crammed in shoulder to shoulder, it’s a way to pay for a somewhat more civilized flying experience.

There are two other rows of the plane included with the “extra” section. The exit rows and the bulkhead row(s). I totally get the appeal of an exit row but for the life of me, I can’t understand the appeal of the bulkhead.

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How To Understand Airline Seat Class Names

Have you ever felt like this when booking airfare? “I’d like to book a seat in Basic Premium Extra Plus Comfort Class that includes exit row seat assignments but without an extra carry on bag.”

Knowing what class of airline seat you were buying didn’t use to be hard. There were only two or maybe three classes to choose from. First Class. Business Class and Coach. Yep, that’s Coach. Not Economy. Not Main Cabin. Not Core. Just plain old Coach. And do you know what? Everyone was fine with that. No one was complaining that the names were inappropriate. You knew what class you were in and everyone was happy.

Flash forward to today and there are numerous names differentiating the seat choices offered by each airline. None of the names are the same and names that happen to be similar can still mean very different seat types. American Airlines leads the pack with eight different types of categories. United follows closely behind with seven and Delta has six. Southwest Airlines is the easiest to understand, as they only have one class of seat, and they don’t even bother to give it a name 🙂

Here’s my attempt to make sense of all of these names, from top to bottom…

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My Favorite Seat On A Plane

I love to fly in fancy airline seats. There’s nothing like flying in a lie-flat seat and getting to recline back and catch a few ZZZs at 35,000 feet.

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While I can book those flights with miles when flying over the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, most of our other flights are usually short jumps around the continental U.S. Those flights are often in economy on carriers like JetBlue or Southwest and their planes don’t have fancy first class cabins.

However, there’s one seat on the plane I’ll always take if available. I was lucky enough to snag this seat on a recent flight and since Sharon let me sit there, I owe her the window seats for both flights on our next trip (Note from Sharon: SCORE!).

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