Starting on January 23, Delta rolled out a new boarding process. It mimics American’s change that increased their number of boarding groups to nine. At least Delta only has eight numbered groups with the new system. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but I’m hopeful this will improve the gate and boarding experience a bit. Boarding, especially at the Sacramento Airport with poor queues, is the only poor part of the experience when I fly Delta.
New Delta boarding groups
Delta is rolling out new, numbered boarding groups. There are a grand total of eight, but not all will apply to every flight. The total number is a slight increase from what they had before, and the main switch is changing to a numbered system rather than having simply a name or code like “SKY”. Here is a diagram of the new boarding group arrangement for Delta flights:
Splitting SKY and Comfort+
The biggest change that I see in this change to the boarding process is the bifurcation of the SKY zone into Comfort+ and SKY. Previously, the SKY zone was for Gold and Platinum Delta elites and those holding a Comfort+ ticket. All of these would have put you in the SKY zone. Now the two boarding zones are distinct. In essence:
- If you get the Comfort+ “upgrade”, you’ll board in this group along with people who booked paid Comfort+
- If you’re a Gold or Platinum elite traveling in Main Cabin, you’ll board in Sky Priority Group 4
This will be a slight disadvantage for lower-level Delta elites who might not be “upgraded” (I use the term loosely) to a Comfort+ seat, as they would board later. It is an advantage, however, for those who decide to purchase a Comfort+ ticket from the start. In my opinion, this split will be an advantage to everyone, as it will reduce the gigantic SKY zone that I’ve seen during many Delta boarding operations. I find that a very large number of those traveling Delta end up in this group, and splitting this zone should be advantageous to everyone.
The second change is the division of the Premium group into a distinct Delta One group and then a First Class / Premium Select Group. Diamonds will board with the higher of these groups. If neither of these cabins exist, they will be invited to board first.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in a couple weeks when I fly east again for work out of Sacramento. The boarding queues at SMF are poorly defined, in my opinion, and the Delta flight I take to Atlanta typically ends up with a mob of people in the gate area. The number of people who are in the SKY group is a bit ridiculous, so I expect splitting this group will have an overall positive impact on the whole boarding process. As long as people don’t line up early, which may still be a pipe dream.
Points With a Crew has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points With a Crew and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers and that compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners and I do not include all card companies, or all available card offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers and other offers and benefits listed on this page. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them
User Generated Content Disclosure: Points With a Crew encourages constructive discussions, comments, and questions. Responses are not provided by or commissioned by any bank advertisers. These responses have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to respond to comments.