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.
For those who are budget minded, the “new” (2014) upgrade certs are an amazing value. Yes, we could go down the endless road of discussion of whether a Platinum should get more Regional Upgrades (RU) or even a few Global Upgrades (GU) and the frustration that, should they want to, a Diamond could pick RUs for their Platinum choice and again RUs for their Diamond choice. But we are not going there today nor are we going to argue about your personal level of success or failure with the certs.
Today we are going to talk about the certs, how you can use them, and some warnings. Now what I am NOT going to do is rehash all black and white rules as you really can just take 10 minutes and read the VERY good terms for the certs right on Delta.com. If you ask a question, and the answer is on that page, expect a link to that page as my answer.
Having said that “monster” disclaimer, what is there left to talk about? Real world application and issues that I have encountered and you may have too (please DO share that in the comments below on the blog so others can benefit from your experience).
I have used or booked all of my RU & GU certs for this year as my medallion Choice Benefit. I would have liked to have had MORE of them, but thanks to Delta not allowing “most” of us to change our choice that we made before the RU & GU were announced , I got just one round so far to spend.
I found booking with them not all that hard. What can help you is, like with all things Delta, flexibly. Before you redeem them from your account, since your 12 months spend AND fly clock starts that day, call and ask if the flights you want to book have the space to use RU or GU certs. Then, it can be a VERY simple thing to confirm the upgrade, pull the certs, and attach them to the newly issued ticket.
Other ways to spend them. Let’s say you did not do the above and have a ticket already. The certs are good for ONE way “basically” on Delta metal (more on that soon – just keep reading). If you have 2 or 3 legs, you can use them on all the legs, but space must be there. If there is NOT space on all of the legs, you can:
1) Just put in the request that if space on ALL legs opens up, Delta lets you know and applies the RU or GU cert to your reservation
2) Apply the cert to the open leg(s) and if space opens up on the other leg(s) call and at no charge have it applied to that leg too.
3) If no space is open, use it to jump WAY up on the upgrade list.
What is the best choice? It depends on how long the flight is and what value you put on your limited amount of certs. The nice part about the NOT applying it is you can still get medallion upgrades and not have to use the cert. Once you apply it and clear with the cert, your medallion upgrade shot is gone as you have already upgraded with the cert. Do keep this in mind depending on your elite level and the day / time / fare class of your flight.
Lots of other issues that can come up and questions are next.
What happens when things go “wonkie” or wrong. You are stuck and Delta.com even says so. Have a CONFIRMED flight with the upgrade and there is an issue, even a Delta’s fault issue, they say you are NOT guaranteed an upgrade on the next flight. Having said that, if it’s Delta metal and a Delta issue, I think you can find a rep to make it happen – when the issue is 100% Delta’s fault. Just know this is not guaranteed. This is NOT the same as a schedule change issue. If there is a schedule change expect your next flight your are moved to to be upgraded as well. However, if YOU choose to move or change do not expect the upgrade to move with you. See the difference.
Can you mix these with other perks. Basically NO. You cannot use these with say an award ticket, that is, get a coach Skymiles award ticket and then use the cert to upgrade to 1st class. Can you do it with PWM, that is, Pay With Miles, from your Delta AMEX card(s)? In the past NO. Under the new rules that started 1JAN15 – maybe. Sorry I don’t have a better answer, but as we know Delta.dumb still does not even display the correct information so maybe is the best answer I have right now. I think you could, by pushing it and explaining the change to a rep, get it done. Let me know if you succeed please!
Can you use bump vouchers in combination with RU & GU certs? You bet! Most vouchers are just like cash and lowering or paying for a ticket with a cert does not affect the ability to use RU & GU certs on a ticket.
Are there flights you cannot use them on? Yep. All Delta flights work other than the cursed BASIC economy “E” class fares. I said earlier they “basically” only work on Delta metal because using them on partners like KLM requires such a HIGH fare class that is makes them for all practical purposes worthless in this regard (at least from a budget perspective). The exception would be if your job ONLY allows coach tickets and would let you pick a ridiculously over inflated coach fare (think YBM) that qualifies under your work rules (that can cost more than discounted 1st class btw). Then, even with partners, this could be a good value.
Can you game it with your spouse or friend and split a reservation, link them together, and you use your medallion status to upgrade and use the cert to upgrade your +1? That would be great and I wish the rules would change, but you MUST use one cert for you first and then another for your +1. But thanks for thinking this way. 😉
These are the most common questions I have both encountered and been asked in 2014 since the new certs were announced. Have I missed any concerns you have? Fire away – René
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