Delta is changing the boarding process to add more groups, not less, to better reward loyal customers, especially those who paid more for their ticket.
Starting January 23, 2019, Delta is shifting from six boarding categories to eight.
Your boarding class will be reflected by color codes during the booking process, on boarding passes, on the Delta app, and on screens and signage at the gate, so that you don’t make a mistake and try to board with a better class of passenger.
How Delta will manage the additional groups in cramped boarding areas, especially at smaller airports, we don’t know.
The intention – according to Delta – is that in addition to rewarding loyalty and spending, the new rules will encourage fewer customers to all line up in the gate area at the same time.
That’s not likely to happen.
I’m a road warrior, and my experience is that everybody crowds the boarding area because they want to be the first in whatever group they are assigned, and have a better chance of grabbing whatever space is left in the overhead bins.
That won’t change even if Delta institutes 28 boarding categories, instead of eight.
Getting in order
What will not change is that passengers who need assistance getting on board will go first, followed by passengers in the ultra-premium Delta One cabin (if the plane has one), then First Class and Diamond Medallion members, the highest rank of its frequent flyer program.
After that, everything changes.
Next up will be passengers who paid extra for a Comfort+ ticket, followed by Gold and Platinum Medallion members. Previously, those groups boarded together. Now they are separate classes.
After that is a new group called Main Cabin 1, which includes Silver Medallion members and people who carry a Delta credit card, plus some passengers in coach class.
That’s followed by Main Cabin 2 and Main Cabin 3, which are roughly the same as Zones 2 and 3 today.
Last are the passengers who paid the least for their tickets. That would be “Basic Economy” fares.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this shakes out, since Basic Economy passengers generally get the middle seat.
That means whoever is in the aisle seat – including a premium paying passenger – will have to get up for the last-to-board.
Since Delta’s new Branded Boarding Order is so complicated, it’s easier for you to look at and digest than it is for us to explain it.
New Rules for Support Animals
Service and support animals under four months of age will not be allowed on any Delta flight, effective December 2018.
Delta says the new policy is due to rabies vaccination requirements. Dogs and cats are typically required to get rabies vaccinations at three or four months of age, in accordance with state regulations.
And starting February 1, 2019, emotional support animals will not be accepted on any Delta flights longer than eight hours, regardless of when the flight was booked.
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