As you cramp your legs into a coach seat, it’s tough not to feel a twinge of envy for those sitting in relative comfort at the front of the plane. When flying on Delta Airlines, you have a number of options to pass that velvet rope into Delta preferred seats. You might have to pay a little more, but if you are a loyal Delta customer, you may be able to make your way to the front without paying a cent extra.


To get a preferred seat on Delta, you will have to pay, either in money, rewards points or long-term loyalty to the airline.

Learn the Fare Classes

Delta’s basic preferred seat is called Delta Comfort Plus. In the front and exit rows in the standard economy cabin, these seats are the same as standard economy seats but have more legroom as well as overhead space dedicated to carry-on storage. On longer flights, the seats also include perks such as amenity kits and blankets. On some long international routes, Delta offers Premium Select seating, a premium economy cabin separate from standard economy, with wider seats, footrests and special meal service. Delta’s First Class cabin – which is designed as Business Class on some international flights – has even larger seats, more legroom, and premium meal and beverage service. Delta’s poshest seat offering is the Delta One Suite, available on select long-haul international flights. There, you can enjoy seats that flatten out into a bed, chef-curated meals and high-end toiletries.

Buy the Seats

A surefire way to get preferred seating on Delta is to simply pay for the seats when you book your travel. The cost varies widely depending on where you are flying and how high you wish to upgrade. Buying a Delta Comfort Plus seat usually runs $100 to $150 more than a standard economy seat for a round-trip ticket. To upgrade to Delta First Class for a shorter trip, you probably will pay several hundred dollars more for a round-trip ticket. Because Premium Select and Delta One cabins are generally on long-haul flights, the price gap is usually significant. Premium Select can cost about double what you would pay for an economy round-trip ticket, and Delta One will increase your costs several times over.

Use Your Points

If you have racked up frequent flier miles with Delta, you can use them to move up to preferred seats. When you reserve tickets through Delta’s website, you receive the “Upgrade with Miles” option, with which you can use miles to move from the main cabin to Delta Comfort Plus, Delta First Class and Delta One seating. The number of miles you use is based on the difference between the cost of the fare, and you still earn additional miles on your flight similar to what you would have earned had you stayed in the main cabin. This option is not available if you are booking your flight through sites other than Delta’s. You still can use miles to upgrade a flight after purchase by calling Delta’s reservations line, on which an agent can tell you whether an upgrade is available and how many miles it will cost. You cannot do this online, however, and some discount fares are not eligible for upgrades.

Tap Your Status

When you fly enough with Delta to earn Medallion Status in its SkyMiles program – the lowest level requires flying at least 25,000 miles or 30 flights with Delta per year – you have the chance to access preferred seats for free. You can request complimentary upgrades when you book, or you can adjust your preferences in your SkyMiles account to automatically request them. Moving into Delta Comfort Plus seating is your most likely outcome. If you have the highest status levels, Diamond or Platinum, you can move immediately into those seats upon booking if they are available. Gold members can move into the seats three days before departure, and they open for Silver members one day before departure. For upgrades into First Class, your success depends on a number of factors. Your status level is foremost, but you also are ranked in terms of how expensive your fare was, whether you are traveling for business with a company with a corporate contract with Delta, and the order in which your request was received. Delta begins upgrading Diamond and Platinum members five days before a flight; Gold members, three days before a flight; and Silver members, one day before a flight. You also can request an upgrade to Delta One suites on domestic flights when available, and those are cleared on the day of departure regardless of your status level. Complimentary upgrades in Delta One suites on international flights and to Delta Premium Select cabins are not available. Additionally, you are not eligible for upgrades at all if you purchased Basic Economy fares, the cheapest fare level available on Delta.