Delta’s Latest Musical Seats

I just spent the weekend flying from Detroit to Tampa to watch my middle child be awarded her bachelor’s degree. Of course I shopped for the cheapest plane tickets I could find.  I purchased a round trip on Delta, who practically own the McNamara terminal in Detroit.  I didn’t realize what I really purchased was an entry into the seat lottery that is the new scheme to push cheap fliers like me into paying for an upgrade.  

When I checked in with the Delta app I wasn’t allowed to have an electronic boarding pass. No problem, I’ll just print one at the airport. Well, not so fast. I was able to print a pass that got me through security, but that’s all. The bulk of passengers were in the same boat, left feeling the anxiety of not knowing for sure if the flight would leave with my butt in one of the seats. We watched the monitor for the first three letters of our last names to show up in blue.  Wait!  My name isn’t on the screen at all.  Does that mean I have a seat?  Am I even on the flight?  It’s all so unclear.  

Ten minutes before boarding time and the gate attendant still has over thirty people for whom she had to assign seats. Seems like a step backwards for everybody involved. 

Eventually my name turned blue and I had a seat, albeit mine was way in the back of the plane. At that time I was suddenly able to use my app and view an electronic boarding pass. Something told me to use the paper one, though.  I’m glad I did, because what printed when the base code was scanned was a seat right next to the entrance. Rapid egress is my favorite seat. 

The return trip was a two leg affair routed through Atlanta.  Arriving at the airport was the same deal, with one vague printout lacking even a gate number. This time I knew the drill so I didn’t worry when my name never showed up on the monitor. I just wandered to the gate when they announced zone 2.  

Oddly enough, when the gate attendant scanned my pass she realized I needed my boarding pass for the second flight. She held everybody up while she accessed the computer to print both my seat assignment and my follow on boarding pass which had my seat assignment. 

I really don’t see any value in this new process. The only thing I can think of is that it is a ploy to raise the anxiety level of flying to such a high level that passengers will gladly fork over hard earned money to know their seat number earlier. They have to get more creative than that to get me to part with my money. I feel sorry for the poor gate attendants who now have to deal with all that stress and have the added responsibility of getting families seated together. 

C’Mon, Delta, you’re better than that. This system is backwards. 



I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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