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Delta Regional Upgrade Certificate Gifts (check your e-mail) and How to Use Them – A Rookie Wednesday Post (Move Up Front With This First Class Gift)

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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 gives away regional upgrade certificates to elites delta points blog

Many Delta Diamonds and Platinums will have received a very special gift from Delta in the form of a Regional Upgrade (RU) certificate (I wonder if any Delta 360s got Global Upgrade certs – hint hint). As a heads up, since the issue date was the 29th you have one year to use your certificate. This really is a telling move by Delta as the vast majority of Delta Points readers have seen their upgrade percentages, largely due to FCM, dramatically fall this year.

delta sends out 5000 bonus mqms

big rock

If you are not a Platinum or a Diamond, you may have received an email awarding you 5000 MQMs, or Medallion Qualifying Miles, in an effort to help you reach a higher Medallion level. Or, if you haven’t been flying or spending or doing much with Delta, or haven’t in the past, then you likely got a rock – I’m sorry!

delta regional upgrade cert delta points blog

The biggest question is how does Delta allocate space. Since I don’t work for Delta Corp, I asked them just that question and was told:

“Regional upgrade certificate space is managed based on predicted demand based on historical data and booking trends, but the number of seat requests is not a factor.” – Anthony Black, SkyMiles spokesman

So this really is a mysterious product that I liken to an alchemist turning lead into gold. An entire open first class cabin, for example, does not automatically mean RU space is available. Things that may have an impact, and we really are guessing here from experience since Delta isn’t telling, are demand, possibly the fare class you paid, and maybe even your elite status. Again, these are mostly educated guesses and I welcome reader feedback as to your experience using and applying RUs.

Only slightly less mysterious than our ability to use these certificates is comprehending the logic of airline routing rules. For example, let’s take a simple one, you fly from Atlanta to Los Angeles, stay a few days and fly back Los Angeles to Atlanta but on the return connect through Detroit, the breaking point for this fare is Los Angeles. If you wanted to use an RU cert. one would be required for your outbound, and one for the return. The fact that the outbound only has one leg and the return two does not affect how many certs you need, but space would have to be available on both legs on the return (you could request either leg if open or wait for both to open up before applying the certificate). However, especially when it comes to mileage runs, you can end up with some unique routing situations. For example, I booked one of the mileage runs starting in Anchorage, Alaska connecting through Seattle and Minneapolis and then returning direct up to Anchorage. While technically Minneapolis is my destination, the fare breaks in Seattle and so I can use one certificate to upgrade Seattle to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Anchorage, the two longest parts of this roundtrip.

One important thing to remember, especially again in regard to Delta mileage runs, just having flights all on one day does not necessarily mean they are all upgrade eligible with just one certificate. Take the Dallas to San Francisco run I blogged about, where you go Dallas-Detroit-San Francisco and still on the same day start your trip back form San Francisco-Detroit and the next day back to Dallas. Even though the 3 first flights are all on the same day, San Francisco in this instance is the breaking point for the fare. Again, how did I know, I called and asked!

The next thing to consider is how best to use your RU. Which segment is most important to you, or are all of the segments important? For example, let’s say you’re going Atlanta to Hawaii via Los Angeles, you may decide that only the Los Angeles to Hawaii segment is the one that really matters to you, or you may decide both are equally important and want all or nothing and that can be requested as well. If space does open up Delta will call (or e-mail) you and inform you that upgrade space is now available. If not you will likely be at the very top of the gate upgrade list the day of travel, but keep in mind in my Hawaii example, if you clear on the first leg at the gate that does not necessarily ensure your clearing the next segment in your itinerary.


The next thing to consider is one I have flip flopped on many times throughout my flying life, that is, is it more important to upgrade on a daytime flight or a redeye? Back when I was much younger I would go toe to toe with anyone and argue the merits of sleeping in coach and enjoying first class when awake. After all, time passes just as quickly when you are asleep no matter whether you are in the nose or the tail of the plane. However, now that I am older and have many more miles on the odometer, getting better quality of sleep has started at times to outweigh my need for a daytime upgrade vs. nighttime. I would advise before you put in your request to perhaps check which of these is a priority for your +1!

Speaking of +1s as a reminder, as a general rule you must request an RU first for yourself and then for others traveling with you on the same itinerary (one certificate per person). You can also, if you link identical reservations, apply an RU to those as well.

While this post is clearly focusing on Regional Upgrade certificates, similar rules apply in regard to Global Upgrade certificates, but note unless you have purchased a Y, B, or M class fare you will be restricted to the Delta metal only portions of your itinerary.

Bottom line, enjoy, if you got one, your gifted upgrade certificate or your annual choice benefit as a top level Delta elite. – 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.


  1. @René
    As a current DM who as already re-earned Diamond for 2016 with 40+ MQS and $12k+ MQDs this year so far, I haven’t received anything. You eluded that everyone with a similar track record received this RU cert on the 29th. Can you elaborate on what you know about this offer/freebie?

    – even more irked with Delta

    • @Adam – No idea just who was targeted. Many DM & PMs got this gift.
      @AL – “Move Up Front With This First Class Gift” but if spammed check your certs page on “My Delta” at

  2. What is the subject line of this email supposed to be??? I have not received it.

    On second thought, I don’t really care that much. I have moved my business mostly to AA after getting Ex Plat thru DM back door. My upgrade percentage has been 100% so far. I’m very happy with the switch so far.

  3. What is the strategy behind this giveaway? I don’t recall similar unilateral giveaways in the last few years. Is it possible skymiles2015 is not having the results delta expected? I think delta acts based purely on its self interest.

  4. Great! More RUs given out that I have to compete with (in addition to FCM) means less Medallion UGs.

    When will Delta figure out that their loyal flyers don’t want the system altered. I fly for business and pay Delta more for the hard product with status gained as part of the deal THEY offered. Having to compete with manufactured RUs reduces the way they value my loyalty to Delta.

  5. DM who also didn’t get the offer. Curious as to what the algorithm is to who got it – have my waiver, plus will hit MQD for Diamond as well this weekend. I have been in the 80% range on medallion upgrades so maybe a factor?

  6. Another DM with a rock. My travel is off this year but I should requalify with a little rollover.

  7. PM here. Got no RUs or MQMs. Guess I’m not a valuable customer.

  8. Hi, Also a DM here and PM for next year but will be DM with plenty of MGM’s left over. I buy first 95% of the time because it is so hard to get an upgrade anymore and I have both the personal and business Reserve cards. Yet I did not get any gift either as many others didn’t.
    I am going to write to corporate to find out why I was not targeted as that is what the DM desk suggested I do. They had no clue what this marketing ploy was and apologized.
    BTW Rene, I also tried to use my RU’s on both of your suggested mileage runs (LAX-ANC thru MSP and MCO-SAN thru DTW or MSP). No love there at all. I was on the phone with the DM desk for 40 minutes while a supervisor and I went through 4 months of routings, day by day and found ziltch!! So I do not understand why they bother to give them out at all. And on all flights from SAN to ATL this Saturday it seems no one has gotten upgraded as there are over 70% of the First Class seats open.

  9. Bernard Levinson Reply

    Also disappointed: DM since last November, and received no upgrade certificate and no gift of miles. Any suggestions on what to do?

    Thank you, Rene, for alerting us to this.

  10. Only 2500 miles for me…..would have rather had the 5k MQMs….that is a nice handout….2500 miles not so much.

  11. Nothing for me either. Guess I’m a rock to them so that’s what I got in return.

  12. My wife, a PM, received a complimentary RU. I am a DM and received nada.

    In your remarks you stated using a RU for LAX to Hawaii. I thought RU’s are only good in the lower 48.

    Another rookie question can anyone use another’s RU?

    • @John – The T&C says:
      Applicable Routes: Valid for use on one-way travel on published fares and routings where Medallion Complimentary Upgrades are available. Flights must be operated by Delta Air Lines or Delta Connection carriers. Valid only for travel on routings with a published upgradeable Main Cabin Class fare.
      SEA, LAX, SLC (? SFO) routes are Medallion Complimentary Upgradeable. So, a RU should work fine. You WILL need a GU cert for ATL or MSP to Hawaii route (and others if they open up).

  13. I have been platinum for past two years; gold for previous 3.

    My email gave me 2500 miles. Not MQM, but skypesos.

    What a joke this airline has become when it comes to customer loyalty.

  14. PM here for past 2 years. GM before that. Only 2500 skypesos here. No MQMs, no RUC, and certainly no surprise. =/

    All you can do is laugh and the ridiculousness and inconsistency.

  15. Further to my email above, I have heard back from the mothership as to how people are chosen and this is what they had to say.

    Dear Scott
    We appreciate your comments. As a way of thanking Medallion members for
    their loyalty, Delta launched three private surprise and delight
    campaigns to select Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion
    members. The selections of who receive each gift was based on audience
    criteria and their travel patterns. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    We appreciate your Diamond Medallion status with us and thank you for
    giving Delta the opportunity to serve your travel needs.


    Miss XXXX
    Diamond Desk

    They appreciate my loyalty, but decide I don’t deserve a gift. Very interesting. Kind of a contradiction don’t you thinK?? Anyone care to comment?

  16. Alan Deichler Reply

    Didn’t get letter from VP Dube a few weeks ago and now no RU certificate. You figure Delta has multiple lists? DM 2010-2016. ?? They’re not making many friends lately, are they?

  17. GM here. 7K spend YTD, and 59K MQMs. I got a rock, not even 2.5K RDM. I’ve never gotten anything cool from DL, so I wasn’t expecting anything now either.

  18. PM for 3rd year and have a shot at DM this year. Loyal to a fault. Nothing, nada.

  19. DM this year, but will “only” be PM next year. Since I’m based in Atlanta and travel mostly internationally, Delta knows I’m trapped. I received the rock. Sooo looking forward to competition from Qatar mid next year.

  20. HITconsultant Reply

    I’m Diamond, received nothing. Can someone clarify Al’s comment “I have moved my business mostly to AA after getting Ex Plat thru DM back door.”? I am about to initiate a switch to AA and looked for a way to hit Ex Plat, but the best option I’ve found is I paid a little over $200 to challenge for Platinum (not Executive Platinum). If someone knows I’m missing something, please let me know!

  21. Got a rock as well. PM for 5 years – 2 MM and over 100k MQM’s this year. I guess what they are really saying is that you are DL Hub captive In MSP so why bother incentivizing you.

  22. I really hope I get that 5k MQM gift email. I’m so close to Platinum I can smell it.

  23. DM and never receive anything from DL. Always buy F tickets as I’ve never had any luck hoping for an upgrade. Must state that I’ve been most happy using mileage awards for spouse, kids & grandkids. I think DL knows I always buy first class tickets and there’s no need to try to win my business, they’re the only game in town.

  24. Like many others here, I’m DM and already qualified for DM next year. Have been DM since the program started in 2001, I think. This year, have already spent well over $20K on MQD’s, mostly because I get to fly biz when traveling overseas…..but only coach for domestic, and then often don’t clear the waitlist. Definitely disappointing when they don’t want to reward their most loyal customers.

  25. FO/GM/PM steadily after 3 yrs and will remain PM in 2016 with DL AMEX. Didn’t even get a rock.

  26. I did not get this reward and I am Platinum. It seems I am not alone. I called Delta Skymiles desk and the agent hasn’t heard of this reward.

  27. Pingback: Free Delta Regional Upgrade, 5,000 MQMs or 2,500 SkyMiles - Points Miles & Martinis

  28. Pingback: DISTURBING Delta FCM trend with 1st class up-sells. Medallions upgrades will suffer more than ever! - Delta PointsDelta Points

  29. Rene` I DM for this year and made DM for 2016 as of 6-5-15. Got no email at all from mothership. Sad to say, but also it appears I am in the ROCK category!

    But on a happy note, I will offer praise to you for your services in helping to guide me to attaining status the earliest ever for me personally in a year. Rock on!

  30. Pingback: Delta Points July 2015 Newsletter - Delta PointsDelta Points

  31. My wife and I are both currently Diamonds and will have 2016 Diamond status by the middle of Sept. Also, I will go over the 1 million mile mark with Delta in Sept. Guess what we got? You are right — nada, nil, zip, zero. We are captive to the Atlanta hub, so I guess we aren’t important to them. Oh, I forgot, Delta has our backs, right?

    • @Ron – Loyalty and Trust are very much in short supply from Delta nowadays sad to say 🙁

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