I scored the rare “outside window” upgrade – ever happen to you?

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On Monday I blogged about my marathon mileage run that starts tomorrow. At that time, 5 days out, 50% of all my upgrades had cleared. The rest, I was resigned to the fact that I would have to wait for so called “battlefield” upgrade, that is an upgrade at the gate (maybe).

Then today a very nice surprise came in my in-box from Delta. Two more of my segments had cleared. One of them was an MKE originating flight so only 1 hr, but still nice. The other was the trans-con on day one! The seats on the domestic 767-300 in business are not an amazing product (thanks PM&M for photos) but much better than the best coach seat, and I get dinner and drinks free so I was most pleased to score this pre-flight. Now I am at 67% with 8 of 12 cleared!

I guess I would love to know from readers how many times you have had the rare upgrade after your first 5+, 5, 3 or 1 day window has come and gone (this hardly ever happens to me)? – René


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  1. Ha! I have to go back to January to remember the last time I saw an UG on DL. 20 segments this year and I am 1/20. Closest I’ve come is #4 on the UG list. Worst was #40-something on a list of 50+ out of ATL. DL UG’s are a total joke this year.

    Coincidentally I’m about 90% on UG’s with AA this year on UG’s I’ve bid for with them. 15 total segments with AA so far in 2013.

    I get as an FO and soon GM I am low on the food chain, but even as FO, DL should be hooking us up with Sky Priority check-in, security and boarding. Since we’ll likely see very few, if any, UG’s as an FO. They need to provide some value there beyond what one can get as a DL AMEX holder. If they’re not, they should just get rid of FO altogether.

  2. I usually get cleared more then 5 days (I’m PM) on my Delta Shuttle flights between LGA-ORD or ORD-LGA. Last week I flew ORD-LGA on 4/25 on the 12:30pm flight and cleared on 4/19.

  3. @DJ – right but I am looking the OTHER way (ie the 5 or 5 day+ window comes and goes) and then you say clear 1 or 2 days out. That ever happen to you?

  4. I have to completely agree with what JGfromOC says, what part of being FO is a bonus if I can get pretty much everything except the rare UG with a Delta Amex! Sky Priority for FO would be a step in the right direction.

  5. As a DM when I get my upgrades it is 5 days out. Only once or twice have I received upgrades, other than battlefield, between 1-5 days out. I fly from BHM which has a large Delta presence. I will be doing the MKE to LAX MR in Oct and Nov with a PHX MR in between so I am interested in hearing your experiences.

  6. FO get free exit row on booking, the cardholdersdodon’t. Sometimes that makes all the difference, some proper seat pitch. Plus FOs are almost guaranteed an upgrade to Canada since most frequent flyers there fly AC.

  7. A bit silly, don’t you think? On the firm side, let’s at least remember that NONE of these upgrades is truly ‘free.’ One way or another, you’ve paid a very dear price to even be considered for the multiple upgrades. Once and for all, let’s get past this idea of ‘Free.’ You may be the next in line, in a complicated formula of dollars, miles, status and even shoe size, but you have paid – and it is darn sure not FREE.

  8. @Cook – oh how wrong you are. Last MR at the end of 2012 I ended up getting PAID net. I have to fly to Sweden many times each year, no matter what, so if I can earn RDM’s and fly biz for the cost of coach, it is net FREE. Just wait till year end and we can chat about your comment (as I will QUOTE IT) and we can see the real hard numbers. You will be shocked! 😉 Rene

  9. I am a Platinum Medallion who travels mostly off-peak on cheaper fare buckets.

    So far this year, I have been upgraded on 28 of 29 flights eligible for upgrade. Of those upgrades, 13 after the upgrade window opened. By contrast, 10 were received at the upgrade window (6 days before departure) and 5 were received at the gate.

  10. My husband and I are both DM, husband Reserve AmEx, me Plat AmEx. But I always look for the cheapest airfares (usually T). This year we have seldom recieved UG at 5 days out, usually clear in 3 days. However, did not upgrade at all on last MSP/PHX trip.

  11. I have to agree with Cook; you have paid for upgrades and perks one way or another. Delta is a business, and no airline is in the business of giving anything away. Even if you only consider it “sweat equity,” you’ve invested a ton of time, effort and cash. To say these upgrades are free is to say you value none of the above. The ability to earn perks – and the fact that you said you “earn RDM’s” signifies they are not free – does enhance the value, but free they are not. That’s my 2c. 😉

  12. Yes I’ve had these on RJ flights where economy fills up. They bump Medallions forward on the batch runs to free up a coach seat.

  13. Has not happened to me.

    I am a PM and either get upgraded 5 days before departure or if buying ticket less than 5 days before departure at time of purchase or I have to wait until being upgraded at the gate.

    Was on one flight last week from San Diego to New York. Plenty of first class seats available during the final five days before departure with 7 of 16 seats empty the day of departure. Did not get upgraded until at the gate.

  14. I am diamond and recently got upgrades for 3/4 flights 5 days out. (One was for a reconfigured 767-300 with staggered lie-flat FC seats, so I was especially happy.) The fourth came through 3 days prior to flight, for a short 2-hour flight on an MD88. Usually I find, if I don’t clear at original window, it won’t clear at all prior to flight but I’m still usually upgraded at gate.

  15. For my last trip, 3/4 cleared at my PM window, with the remaining 1/4 clearing at T-2d.

  16. I study this thoroughly and keep a spreadsheet to try and determine which days/fares give me the best chance at upgrade. This year as a PM I am 18/34. 10 of the UG’s at 5 days, 5 at the gate, the rest in between. I have flow K L U & T fares. All 16 non UG’s were on T fares or 11/27.

    Just got 2 UG’s for next Tuesday, 6 days out, both U fares. My T fare, still pending.

  17. It hasn’t happened to me in a couple months but I have had a few upgrades clear between the T-6 PM window and T-24hr departure. For me, almost always these “in between” window & BFUG upgrades occur in the middle of the night around 3-4AM. My theory is the RU/OU algorithm is processed around that time and if inventory is opened then some upgrades clear.

    Upcoming MR this weekend (I cleared 3 of 5 segs at window), I’m still *hoping* that my long t-con UG will clear in advance rather than BFUG but no luck so far. EF shows F5 & RU0 available so my odds seem reasonable for a Saturday evening departure.

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