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The guessing “games” on the JFK elite upgrades to LAX/SFO/SEA continues!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

swedish waffle

You know what I really like? I really like Swedish waffles. They are one of the nummiest things on the plant. They are crisp, great with whipped cream and jam or fruit or just with butter and cream. I don’t like it when Delta plays games with us and all this “waffling” on the JFK upgrades.

delta-com says you can not upgrade from jfk-lax 7july2014

In this post I talked about this change and all the questions we do not have answers to. Delta has NOT in black and white anywhere posted just what has to happen to get these upgrades (could be the lack of leadership in Skymiles for now). If you try to book a flight still shows NOT upgrade eligible – but wait – they are for DM & PMs? Is this more false advertising? If it is NOT in print anywhere I guess it is not and also this way they can pull the “rug” out from under these upgrades as they never “really” existed right? I would not be surprised to see them go away at some point rather than become official. We shall see and I hope I am wrong.

So what we have to do is turn to the next best thing to learn about Delta policy changes, that is Delta’s second source, FlyerTalk, where Delta loves to publish official changes, sometimes even BEFORE it puts them up on the best source for real and accurate information,

There is a LONG thread on the upgrade change and rather than have you read all 100+ posts here is the relevant data to know (since Delta will not tell us) plus some updates from readers as well:

  • Delta reps are misinformed or will give you lots of wrong info. Especially with this, but also with all things Delta if you don’t like the answer, hang up, call back. Again and again if need be. The good part about no official policy is we can game them back just like they are gaming us.
  • I would start calling, if you are a DM & PM, 5 days out. Why when all the “facts” (there are none) say it is only 6 hrs before flight? Since there are no official rules if you can get a rep to put you on the upgrade list at the 5 day mark, why not.
  • Award tickets could work too for this upgrade even though officially not OK (again there are no real rules so up to you to press it).
  • You may be automatically added to the list but at the 6 hour mark you had better have a rep confirm you are on the list. Preferably a real person like a Skyclub rep (even if not a SC member) or a GA. Your gate will not be open 6 hrs beforehand, but I would ask a Red Coat to check when they are done with another flight. Keep in mind some phone reps will tell you it is ONLY automatic and there is nothing you can do to change this (right)!
  • Some say your fare class is the determining factor for being auto-added to the list. I would rather follow the above steps to confirm I am on the list.
  • I hope you are seeing a pattern here that it is the wild west since there is no real guidance from mothership. Some reps say if you are not added BEFORE the 6 hour window you cannot get the upgrade – sigh. You see the reason to start trying to be added to the list as far as 5 days out.
  • If you are flying with a companion, even on different PNRs, it is worth attempting to request the upgrade for both at least 24hrs before flight. Again, with no clear rules, press what is in print for normal upgrade rules.
  • Once onboard, if you are a DM or PM, and there are still open seats, I sure would ask an FA if you can upgrade onboard as Delta clearly is offering these upgrades to DM & PMs again. All they can say is NO and you can say “I guess this crew is NOT striving for five today” and see what happens!
  • Don’t expect RU certs to work as they are still, from what I have been told, not coded to work on the JFK route. You are still stuck burning GU certs, but I would not do it. I would try all these other routes as a DM. I would hope Delta will change this since PMs can upgrade on this route, should not their Choice Benefit’s RU certs work as well?
  • The fly Delta app may show you on the upgrade list or it may not. If you are on the list via the APP or the GIDS I would do a screen shot or a photo of the list should you run into issues closer to boarding and a GA says you are not on the list or cannot get the upgrade. You can then show them you were on the list and should get the upgrade.

This is where we stand for now. I still find it just mind numbingly ridiculous that a MAJOR policy elite change like this has no more clear direction. This is one of the few good things Delta has done recently even though it is a waffle on the previous ridiculous change; they should be promoting this and implementing and bragging about this on facebook, instagram, the Delta blog and twitter, not hiding and letting FlyerTalk members discern the facts of this hidden policy. But if we want to get this new non-published perk it is up to us to do the work to get it.

Gosh, I hope this is not what we have to look forward to under Skymiles2015, but it sure feels like this is what we can expect as Delta changes heading mid flight adjusting to the storms of anger from upset frequent flyers to all the new “enhancements” on the way!- René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Threatening the FA team with a performance review downgrade, however indirectly, over your being unhappy with Delta’s lack of (clear) policy is reprehensible. It’s a passive-aggressive DYKWIA move. Not sure why folks get so emotional about something that, after all, is a perk, not something you’re actually entitled to – you can still actually PAY for the flat seat if you want it. This is NOT a “MAJOR policy elite change” – at least not yet (as you point out, it’s unpublished) – and it only affects 3 routes, for goodness sake.

    • @JEM – When MGT fails (and this is a MAJOR change as this is a MAJOR route with MAJOR elites flying) and there is NO guidance on the company web site you have to fall back to the outstanding Delta people. If they fail there is no reason not to remind them that their actions can impact a review by an elite flyer! I have seen many times Delta people make things “right” when the company drops the ball. This can be one of those times IMO! The only thing reprehensible is how Delta is gaming their elites to try to keep them from moving to Jet Blue or other airlines.

  2. I agree with JEM – having to work that hard for an upgrade is one of the reasons I stopped staying with SPG properties. If my business was important to the vendor, I expect them to do the right thing. If they don’t, I’m happy to give my money to someone else.

    They will hear more when people speak with their wallets.

    • @Kevin – Well I agree with you that Delta should make this clear and in print on Until then, those of us who are sticking with Delta, have to play the game they have given us.

  3. As a DL PLAT for the this year and DM for last three yearsar, I USED to get upgrades … SFO-JFK-SFO routes. I NO LONGER do. I believe that the algorithm is pretty straight forward….cutoff the Queue @Diamond….

    I have had 5 seats open @6hrs, 4 seats open @ 2hrs ( I am number 2 on the list) & magically all seats fill up @40min. Many times. I used to wonder how. I think it’s because Delta is marketing these open seats to other paying customers… at discounted rates ($100 is better than nothing, right?)…before offering to elites

  4. Pingback: Why I just don't care about Delta new JFK gates - but one good idea - a bus? - Delta PointsDelta Points

  5. Pingback: New York to Seattle is again open for ALL medallions to upgrade. Even Gold & Silver Medallions. - Delta PointsDelta Points

  6. Rene,
    Any updates on the procedures here for diamonds requesting upgrades on the transcon routes? Do we have enough data points yet to know whether the 6 hour mark is the magic time to try to add yourself to the upgrade list, or if it is still worth calling 5 days out? I realize you have a newer post about PMs losing this “unpublished benefit,” but as a DM I have a JFK-SFO flight coming up, and am wondering if we have any more info. Thanks!

  7. Spoiler alert- I’m traveling next week. Anything I should do prior to the 6 hour mark? Thanks for the help, and look forward to reading the review!

    • @Mike – Call at 24hr mark to be 100% sure (before you check-in or they will have to un-check you in). They can add code to activate you on the list but not before.

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