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Rookie Wednesday: All about Delta Regional & Global Upgrade certificates for medallions

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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.

delta gloval and regional upgrade certficates

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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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.

31 Comments

  1. Shana Gainey-Lewis Reply

    Hi Rene, do you know if Delta’s complimentary upgrade policy has changed this year? Last year I got upgraded on 99% of my flights. This year my rate is at 50% (granted, that’s only for 4 flights as opposed to 100). I called Delta to ask if there was any change and they said no, but then they offered to waive the change fee if I wanted to pay for first. I politely declined and explained that the last time I paid for first I had to check my bag, and I wrote Delta letting them know that I would no longer pay for first until they could guarantee that I wouldn’t have to check my bag. Anyway, I’m just wondering if you know what’s going on (I guess they are trying to get more people to pay for the upgrade… my flight 5 days from now from ORD to ATL, on which I used to get upgraded 5 days out every week, now has first wide open, but I have not been upgraded as a Platinum, and I guess no one has been upgraded since first is wide open). Thanks!

  2. There have been a lot of reports of agents not applying RUCs correctly to the upgrade list. If you’ve applied a RUC and you’re not at the top of the upgrade list that’s a big red flag, but is there any way to tell from the reservation itself? Will it still say “MEDALLION UPGRADE REQUESTED” or something else to indicate the RUC was actually applied?

  3. It would say System wide upgrade if using a GU and regional upgrade if using a RU, medallion is based on status.

  4. Here are my limited cert experiences:
    Submitted RU from HNL to SLC. Because it was a premium flight (ie; one non-stop flight per day) they wouldn’t confirm at purchase. However, the RU did bump me (DM) and companion (PM) to 1 and 2 on upgrade list. At T-24 there were 5 FC seats available Eventually there was only one seat left and then none with 30 minutes before flight. I am starting to wonder if putting these in last minute is better than when booking the flight. Rene can you speak to best time to submit the certs – if agent can’t apply when you book the ticket?

    GU from ATL to Johannesburg. Again the only one non-stop flight per day so they wouldn’t confirm when I purchased ticket but at top of upgrade list. Now 30 days out and there are 19 and 20 FC seats open at this point.

    GU to TPE and PVG went through but as Rene points out I was very flexible and there were multiple options. Fortunately the flights I wanted had GU availability.

  5. I was able to book a first class upgrade weeks after the certificate expired. I thought travel had to be completed by the one year expiration date of the certificate but after speaking with agents some say you have a second year to use the certificate. It just must be booked and confirmed and the ticket of course purchased before the certificate expires.

    • @Tony – My understanding is book AND fly. Great news if change to one year book and +1 year fly!

  6. Rene, I thought your RU was good for one year after you selected it as your Choice Benefit. Is that correct? So we should wait as long as possible before selecting it as a CB. Then, during that year, you could use it on any flight that is scheduled, even if the flight is past the year but you apply it during the year. Am I correct on this? Thanks.

    • @JohnHace – Correct (as I understand it). Wait as long as you can as you have one year after the date you choose it.

  7. For the upgrade certs., it’s the date of ticket reissue that matters – not the original ticketing date, nor the date of travel.

  8. I’m a DMand am flying with my wife to LAX with skymiles. Since she has no status, i don’t doubt either one of us will get upgraded from ATL to LAX. Can the regional upgrade certificate be used to upgrade just me or can it be used for me and my wife if we are flying on the same itinerary?

    Thanks,

    Vasily

  9. Renee;
    What a difference only a month makes. December 2014 was a lite flying month for me, 10 segments, average price fares, 100% upgrades on all flights. January 2015, 12 segments as of 01-16-2015 with flights from-to-through major hubs to just 2 gate cities. Upgraded on only 5 of the 12 segments or just 41%. To add insult to injury Delta gate agents are like pit bulls when it comes to carry on bags this year. As I waited at the gate to see if I would clear, and mostly didn’t, I then had to board my in my original coach seat. Well, by then word came out that all overhead space was full and hence, I couldnt get on the plane with a second bag (rollerboard). What else could happen to RodSki you must be asking, well; I found out on a 717 the single second row seat 20B does not recline, the Delta App almost never worked showing the upgrade list, some how as a result of a mechinical or weather delay, the story kept changing, my rebooked connecting flights confirmation was somehow taken out, an extra 3 hour delay. Good lord the list could go on but my memory is blocking the really bad stuff.
    Renee, I know now how the other half lives. I’m thinking about asking the company for a small RV to travel in and make sales calls.
    God Speed,
    Rod
    Diamond Medallion since day one
    FF flyer with Delta since 1992
    just short of 2 Million MQM’s
    over 160 segments last year
    Tired

  10. 1: The one year starts from when you select the Certs, but you have to chose both Diamond Choice Benefits at the same time. This matters when, for example, your other Choice Benefit is to give someone GM status

    2: Just booked OAK to OGG (Maui) by way of LAX, for flying end of April. Got us both upgraded on all four legs immediately. 🙂 Feeling very happy.

  11. I am using a RUC for a coming up flight and had an agent on the Diamond line who told me if it didn’t clear 3 hours prior to the flight that it would not be taken to the gate for a BFUG because they had to have time to reissue the ticket. This is incorrect isn’t it? It is myself and my non status companion wife traveling on the same reservation.

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  14. Hello – sorry for the late comment on this excellent thread.

    How about this scenario:

    1) PM and SM (no status) linked but separate PNR
    2) RU cert applied to PM and SM PNRs but no UG availability.
    3) PM gets upgraded at 5 day window based on status, not RU.
    4) SM gets upgraded with RU cert.
    4) PM’s RU cert is unused, goes back to account
    5) Only one RU cert is ultimately used.

    Wishful thinking?

    • @FLN – Could happen. Maybe. But the thing is the rules say you must use RU for other to use RU but then again it is Delta IT so who knows.

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  21. Can one use these with linked PNRs? Meaning they are two separate reservations made and paid for and linked after booking then getting PM line to apply RU?

  22. Hi Rene. Quick question for you. I am Platinum Medallion. Any experience using regional upgrade certificates for one leg of a flight when first leg is on a partner? I have a EUG-SEA-JFK flight coming up, but EUG-SEA is on Alaska (booked before the announced split). Delta agent just told me that because first flight is on Alaska metal, I cannot use RU to SEA-JFK leg. Any experience with a Delta rep being able to process a RU for this kind of situation? I know general rule is that no RU on partner flights, but I would hope I could still use RU for SEA-JFK on Delta metal. Thanks.

    • @John – You can use on the SEA-JFK leg. Not on the AS leg. HUCB as you can clear on ONLY the Delta leg or any single Delta leg no problem.

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