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Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Salt Lake City
posts: 7
reviews: 1
Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Twice within the last 6 weeks I have been given a slip of paper when boarding the plane which changes my seat assignment, even though I had a boarding pass with my original seat assignment documented there. In both cases, I was given a "poorer" seat. In the first case, I was in business class with a seat assignment in the front cabin and was moved to a seat by the galley. In the second case, I had a premium economy seat and was moved to a seat in the back of the plane. I was given some vague excuse about an equipment change, but in both cases, my original seat was available on the airplane, but was given to someone else. Is anyone else experiencing this? I don't fly often enough to have status with Delta, and I'm wondering if my seat was given to someone with status.

47 replies to this topic
detroit, mi
posts: 121
reviews: 32
1. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

I have had it only happen once when a plane was substituted, a older 757 for a newer 757. The old 757 probably an old NW airline plane was not set up for economy comfort.

Gave us new seat assignments at the front of economy. They also automatically refunded the money I paid extra for Economy Plus seats on my Amex Delta card which I used for booking.

Salt Lake City
posts: 7
reviews: 1
2. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Sounds like you had a much better experience than I did. I walked right past my Economy Comfort seat on the way to the back of the plane. They did give me a credit after I asked for it, but no notification at all that my seat was being changed.

Florida - Alaska...
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
posts: 3,642
reviews: 1
3. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Aircraft can get changed right up to departure time (late arriving plane, mechanical issues, etc). If the change occurs after folks have checked in, then the system automatically reassigns effected passengers to new seats. They never reveal the formula they use, but in general higher priced tickets and elite level flyers get priority over low cost tickets and infrequent flyers.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 2,552
reviews: 12
4. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

It's also possible that the original seats were given to an Air Marshal, and that the airline was not given much advance notice of the change. The chances of that happening to the same person twice in a 6 week span are pretty small, but it's still a possibility.

FYI, seat assignments are "requests", not reservations, and the airline is free to reassign seating as they see fit.


Salt Lake City
posts: 7
reviews: 1
5. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Thanks for your response. It just seems that since this happened to me twice in rapid succession, a person who does not fly every week, then it must be happening to lots of folks. Recognizing that Delta has the right to change seat assignments does not change the irritation when something like this happens to you. It feels like going to a restaurant, ordering steak, then being served up hamburger and being told to eat it or leave. I'm sure Delta has its reasons for making these changes. Perhaps if they explained what the rules of the game are, it would be easier to accept.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 2,552
reviews: 12
6. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

"Perhaps if they explained what the rules of the game are"

The rules of the game are that you paid for transportation from Point A to Point B in a particular class of service, which in the end was what you got. The airlines make every effort to honor seat requests, but sometimes they have to change them, usually for reasons beyond their control. The seat that you originally requested was not available, so they had to move you to a different seat. Would you have preferred that they put you in the same seat, but on a later flight?

To follow your analogy, what you paid for was beef, and you requested that it be served in the form of steak. Unfortunately the airline only had hamburger available at the time. You still got the beef that you paid for, just not your first choice on how it was prepared.


Salt Lake City
posts: 7
reviews: 1
7. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

To continue the analogy, what I paid for was steak, not hamburger. The steak was available, but a patron of the restaurant who dined there more frequently than I, showed up after my order was placed and asked for steak. Restaurant decided to give my steak to their "better" customer. However, they didn't come back to me and say, "sorry, no more steak." Instead they placed the hamburger in front of me at a time when my options for dining elsewhere were limited and impractical. In my view, total arrogance.

Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 36,900
reviews: 7
8. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Seat assignments are never guaranteed.

hilton head, sc
posts: 106
reviews: 14
9. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

Sandra O,

Very similar thing happened to me.

I booked Business/First Atlanta/ Punta Cana 12-20/1-3 in February - in February, right after Delta released scheds and fares for the January flight. Booked through Delta Vacations/Luxury. Was the first person to choose seat assignment on the flight down and second on the flight back. Took 3C and 3D down and 2C and 2D back. Got confirmation e-mail followed by a letter with all other travel docs (special service by Delta Vacations/Luxury -- which is outsourced to MLT, Inc.).

Six weeks later called Delta to make an interim payment. Got confirmation email, but did not look at seat assignments - didn't think there was any reason to do so. Six weeks later made another interim payment, got another confirmation email. Just made another payment and this time as I scanned the email my eyes popped when I saw my return leg showed we were now seated in 10 D and 10 F (first row of Economy Plus). Went to Delta site to correct what I thought was a simple error and found a notice that there were no seats available in my class of service, which the seat selection display confirmed,

I went back through the earlier payment emails and found that the seat change had happened between booking and the first interim payment transaction. I hadn't received any notification of a change.

So I called Delta Vacations to get this corrected and after several hold periods for discussions with Suprervisors, was told they couldn't figure what had happened and that they were going to have to pass the problem over to Delta scheduling to resolve it.

I told them I saw three solutions that would satisfy me - 1.) Move whoever was now in 2C and 2D into 10D and F and move us back into the seats we had selected and been assigned 4 months earlier, or 2.) move the last two seat holders assigned to BC/FC by date back to EP and move us into BC/FC, or, 3) move anyone who was in BC/FC on miles/points out and move me (paid cash in full) back in.

Now I view none of these solutions as being without precedent -- they swapped me out with no notice and no good reason that I've heard yet.

Four days later I got a schedule change notice -- Delta had moved us off the flight in question to a later flight that had 2 seats remaining in FC/BC, however they are not together.

So, am I still going to be flown home from Punta Cana 0n the same day I planned? Well, yes. Albeit two hours later.

Am I in FC/BC for which I paid? Well,,,,,,,,yes.

Am I still ticked off that no one seems to know how people who booked after me somehow got (what I consider to be) my seats? You bet!!!

Is there anything I can do about it? Not bloody likely.

10. Re: Is Delta changing seats assignments at the gate?

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