Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
I have had a few complaints that my “rookie” topics have been a bit too non-rookie as of late. A fair complaint, but you would be surprised how many Diamond Medallions thank me for some little tip they did not know that they read about on rookie Wednesday (well then again I guess that does make their point 😉 ).
So today, back to basics on upgrades. After all, to move up to that cushy, wide, first class seat is what it is all about right? To get the free drinks, better free snacks or food. Or even a full-flat seat to sleep well on a long flight. Ah, that is the life and why we spend so much of our time chasing points and miles!
Just what does it take to score an upgrade? There are many factors that go into it. The first step, that you can read more about HERE, is getting status. Now MUST you have status to get an upgrade? No, but I will touch more on that in a bit.
Complementary upgrades from coach to first class, domestically and some other markets, are extended to all medallions on most tickets. There are exceptions I will cover as well. But in general, if you are even the lowest of all medallion, Silver Medallion, you have a small shot at the upgraded seat.
I did a detailed post HERE on just what makes the biggest difference to get the upgrade so reviewing that post at this point may be a good idea before we go on.
What are the few things that will prevent you from an upgrade? First, internationally Delta does not offer free upgrades to anyone; this applies even to the very top Diamond Medallion flyers. There are exceptions, like when a flight is oversold, then you could move up but this is the exception not the rule so don’t expect it. An “OP-UP” as it is called, or an operational upgrade, is a gift and you say thank you and move on. Other things that can prevent you from an upgrade. Skymiles free tickets can score an upgrade, but you must be at least Gold Medallion to qualify for this or the second level up the medallion chain; Silver Medallions had better book first with Skymiles if they want to fly in first. Also the AMEX buy-one-get-one-free certs that come along with both the Platinum Delta AMEX and the Reserve Delta AMEX (in year two), these, when booked in coach, are NOT ever upgrade eligible. The Reserve card cert does let you pick either coach or first as your reward so keep that in mind.
So what other ways are there to upgrade? One is spend extra miles, but not ALL tickets qualify. Here is where the confusing “alphabet soup” of fare class codes comes into play. You can read in detail an outstanding breakdown of each fare class code and rule HERE at CWSI.net’s page all about Delta fare codes. But in a nutshell, K class or higher for Domestic is needed to spend points to get the big seat if it is available for upgrade with points. Internationally you need to be M class or higher. There are also for Platinum & Diamond Medallions something called a SWU or System Wide Upgrade. As a rookie you will not have access to these and PM & DM know how to use them (not impossible domestically but very hard and costly internationally)!
That just about sums it up. Status, points, certs. That is about it. Other than one more you may see now and then. If there are NO medallions left who qualify with all the above, AND, you have a K+ class fare, you may notice Delta offer an upgrade for a fee at the gate. This would be one reason to purchase a fare class higher than the deeply discounted normal coach class of “LUTXVE”. However, this is vary rare to see and you should not, IMO, just spend for the higher fare class with hopes of seeing this happen.
Any other questions about upgrades? Please, if you are reading this via e-mail, go to the blog and look down to the bottom of the post where it says “comments”, click that, then go to the bottom box and fill in your question. Please do this rather than e-mail me so others can also learn from your question! Thanks – René
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