Rookie Wednesday: Medallions – Careful not to sabotage your own upgrades! Details do matter.

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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.


RenesPoints Rookie

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.

your delta medallion upgrade has been confirmed delta points

The above is what we all want to see in our inbox. After all, medallion upgrades are one of the biggest reasons for attaining the highest medallion levels with Delta. But there are a great many things that can happen to prevent said upgrade from happening and some of them can be your fault!

make sure this box is checked

One of the simplest mistakes you can make is, while tinkering and booking, you in some way on some screen end up not picking that you want to request an upgrade. You may be saying in your head right now – well DUHHH – I would never NOT want an upgrade so if for some reason I have not selected this it is Delta’s fault. Well maybe, and it is true you have to be careful as depending on what you select the default can change so it is not requested. The crux of the matter is you need to make sure either you or Delta does not in some way unselect that you do indeed want to have the upgrade option.

make sure you see medallion upgrade requested

Now even if you have done all of the above there are things that can happen that can result in you not seeing the above that is “Medallion Upgrade Requested“. You instead see the words “Upgrade Eligible“. The latter means you are not going to get an upgrade unless you do something more than stare at the words on the screen 😉

You at this point in this little narrative may be saying something like:

This exact thing happened to me and it was not my fault and I had selected all the right stuff and Delta still tricked me out of my upgrade“!

OK, I agree with you, but it is still your fault (don’t’ shoot the messenger I am just here to help you remember). You see, I too have had this happen to me, but I check my itineraries more often than Delta devalues their frequent flyer program (that happens a lot if you did not know). So, when I see “Upgrade Eligible” all of a sudden show up due to say a schedule change or other ticket issue I tweet away to @DeltaAssist and they fix it for me in no time flat.

upgrade eligible but not really from delta-com

Also there are times where Delta will show you are “Upgrade Eligible” when you are clearly not. Unless something HUGE has changed over this week that I missed, Delta does not give free international upgrades nor is there a way to get an upgrade on a CRJ200 (other than taking a bus). So just because you see a possible upgrade don’t expect one in all cases until the ticket is issued and you can see what you have. Plus, there is the sorta – kinda – maybe JFK-LAX/SFO/SEA situation where it will show NOT upgrade eligible when booking, after booking, but we know that Diamond & Platinum medallion on revenue tickets DO have a sorta – kinda – maybe either 6 hrs before or after or whatever whoever says you do or automatically – PHEW!

request crossoverrewards upgrade

Oh, and then we have our dearest cousins who are a rung below, the Silver Medallion, but shockingly, depending on the day and route you fly, do truly have a shot at a few upgrades now and then. Be sure when you check in if you see the above you do request you would like an upgrade and then hope no one else with any color medallion card is flying that day. Before you scoff at this there have been many flights I have been on over the years where there have been empty 1st class seats and those could have been filled with Crossover Reward Platinum elites!

I hold BOTH a personal & business Reserve card

what to see on my delta delta reserve card member

The last one is making sure, since the Delta AMEX Reserve card does have an impact on upgrades, is in your Delta profile and correctly shows up in If you don’t see it listed you need to get this fixed to have it help you!

t-c on amex about more upgrades with reserve card

So there you have it for your this week’s rookie lesson on making sure you are turning left and sitting in front of the curtain on your next flight rather than digging for a HOOU in the back of the jet!- René

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. 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 American Express.

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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. This post hit home today. We are off to Vegas for a wedding on Friday and it seems Delta was playing games with our reservation. We were upgrade eligible MKE MSP legs but somehow not between MSP LAS. When we inquired a month ago we were told it was became there were no upgrade seats available (even though 95% of the first class cabin was empty).

    We inquired a few days ago and were told the same thing. When the window for upgrades came and the cabin began to fill up and we were still being shown as not eligible we contacted Delta assist again. Apparently our reservation was marked “Deny the comp upgrade” for those legs.

    They are giving us the run around about it now. We are on the list now but I am fairly certain we missed our upgrade chances. Why must you play games with us Delta!?!?! We want to love you but you make it so hard!!!

    • @joelle – I am so sorry. Yes the games stink. But HUCB and keep pushing until you get what you want. The rule to live by. (worst case get a RedCoat to push the big red button)!

  2. Lesson Learned! We fortunately got confirmed we were upgraded this morning… whew!

    We can’t wait to meet you in October! We will have to buy you a drink or several from the bar. Happy travels!

  3. Thanks Rene,
    I have never checked this out before. Good reminder to do on all flights.

  4. Does it have something to do with your level? I never saw upgrade eligible when husband was a platinum but, since knee replacement surgery and no flying made him a gold, I always see it.

    • @Christine – for awards tickets you have to be GM or higher to be eligible. that is the only real issue.

  5. WOW, what timing. I am PM and usually keep up with my upgrade status. Must have been busy because after reading the post I went to double check…of course schedule change and the request was lost. Call to Medallion line fixed it! Thanx Rene. Keep up the great work. Even a PM can learn from the Rookie posts.

  6. Corbett Kroehler Reply

    To anyone considering the value of Silver Medallion, please take heed of what René has to say. Naturally, higher status is better but I can tell you from my 4 months as a Silver last year, upgrades happen. The specifics were that, most of time, I had to fly at an off-peak time. However, I even hit pay dirt when the fates were with me. Moreover, although I don’t fly to JFK all that often, I make it a point of observing the overhead monitor for morning MCO-JFK flights and have seen several leaving with ALL seats in the forward cabin vacant, ALL! As for the routes where I succeeded, most of time, I flew off-peak. In order of success, the routes in which I received my Silver upgrade were MCO-DTW, MSP-ORD, DTW-ORD, MSP-MCO, MCO-ATL, MCO-LGA, MCO-SLC and LGA-MCO. Be sure, too, that you remember a key detail from René, hub-to-hub routes decrease your odds drastically. BOS-ATL also seems stingy, even aboard a 757 with 24+ seats in the forward cabin.

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  8. Ward Harris Reply

    If you have a non-upgradeable ticket based on fare class, does the Gate Agent still have the capability of putting you up front if the seats are available? Delta has never done so even though there were seats available (on one occasion there were 7 seats up front and the back had only one or two empty seats.) KLM has put me up front on a few occasions flying on a Delta ticket in the same fare class.

  9. I remember when I had this issue of showing as “upgrade eligible” rather than “medallion upgrade requested.” I knew it wasn’t the same thing, so I called Delta and the agent kept insisting that I should not worry, that it’s the same thing and I will get the upgrade if warranted.

    I learned very quickly when I began flying with Delta about the inconsistency of knowledge among Delta reps.

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  11. My Wife (Silver) and her sister (not Medallion) flew SFO – SLC 6 PM on a Wed, and both got upgraded to 1st. Rule to follow: If you’re flying with a non-Medallion , you must get that person’s Sky Miles number attached to teh ticket (or get them registered for Sky Miles), or else neither of you can get an upgrade, no matter what.

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  14. Another tip is for booking tickets for multiple people that will all be on the same PNR.

    I have noticed that when booking tickets for my myself and my girlfriend, I ALWAYS see either “Upgrade Eligible or Upgrade not Eligible at this time”. I never see that it’s been requested for either of us.

    I just called Delta and had our PNRs separated on multiple trips we have coming up. I now show “medallion upgrade requested” on all of my booked tickets!

    My plan is to try and add my travel companion at the gate and just have her added to the upgrade list. It worked for a MSP – MCO flight where they brought in a different plane that was meant for long haul flights. Lay flat beds! We both got upgrade and hit absolute pay dirt because we were connecting through MSP after a redeye flight from SEA and were exhausted!

    Btw. I’m only Silver Medallion!

  15. So I’m new to this. Truly a rookie. This is my first year as a medallion (silver ftw!) and I’ve only scored one upgrade so far, and that was at the gate, so everything was handled by the GA.

    I’m leaving for Newark with a companion on Friday, and my medallion (+companion) upgrade is requested. Right now FC is showing as 11/12 seats open (Boeing 717) so I think (I hope!) we’re going to get the upgrade. When I get the “medallion upgrade confirmed” email, what do I do? Will my companion and I be moved automatically into FC seats? If not, should I go into the Delta app and try to move us to FC seats? How does all that work? I’d really like to get this upgrade as it’s a late evening flight at the end of a long workweek and I think (based on a flight distance of 1005 miles and departure time of 7:09pm) they’ll be serving dinner in FC.

    Thanks for all the helpful articles. I’ve been reading them religiously. Sorry for my rookieness 😉

  16. I just booked a flight to from Richmond to Vietnam and had “request upgrade” checked but it says 2 of the 3 legs upgrade not eligible even though they are technically in qualified fare classes. So are you saying I can call and potentially be put on the upgrade list? I’m platinum medallion. Thanks.

    • @Taylor – Complimentary upgrades are on Delta metal only (plus regional’s).

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  19. Got my first upgrade this year as a Silver Medallion today (while missing first nine). Saturday night flight out of LAX, with all 12 F seats available and all elites were cleared (only 5). I got the email this afternoon, which is well before the 24-hour window. This is the sort of flight that SPG platinum and companions could easily score an upgrade.

    Upgrade cleared in advance also comes with the full Sky Priority perks, which are enjoyed by all medallions but Silver. So I appreciate that Delta does not wait till the gate to clear my upgrade.

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