Rookie Wednesday: How and when will you know your Regional Upgrade has cleared?

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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.

phone call from Delta about my RU clearing

Having a “rookie” post for Platinum and Diamond Medallions sounds a little strange, at first glance, but I get e-mails all the time from those who were Gold Medallions for years and just became Platinum for the first time ever and have questions. Plus, it seems, the rest of the “gang” does not always know what is going on or the best ways to use the amazing tools for Delta.

So let’s hit on some of the high points about these certs that you can select as one of your Choice Benefits. For me, as a Diamond, I get BOTH the Platinum gift and the Diamond gift. I have, since Regional Upgrades were introduced a few years back, always picked them as my Platinum choice. I have always used them. I have, all but once, been successful applying them. I value them and in this current environment where Delta jets are flying REALLY full and “they” are shooting for 80% 1st class seat sales and up-sells we need every edge we can get if we want to be sitting in the “pointy end” of the jet.

There are two ways of getting your upgrade. Both ways you have to call. There is no way to check if you can upgrade without calling Delta. If space is available for a flight, you can upgrade right away. Your cert is pulled but is not used until you fly but will show as “closed” in your “My Delta” where certs live. If there is no space you are upgrade “wait listed”, that is, you will see the same flight twice in your itinerary for the trip. Once you do clear one of two things will happen (or both). Notice the photo at the top of this post. That is a very bad voice-to-text Sprint translation of the voicemail I got from Delta about my upgrade clearing (who is Mr. Nick Start Dylan btw)! Jokes aside I was notified that my upgrade requested had cleared.

my regional upgrade cert cleard

my regional upgrade cert cleard part 2

The other way is simply an email from Delta that you see above (the wahoooo one) that you need to go and pick your 1st class seat as you are no longer in coach (yeah, waahoo worthy)! Now for this trip the routing was strange and the 1st leg was the break in the trip. The next two legs were the next part. The certs are good for legs ONE-WAY so I could use it on the last two in this itinerary. I wanted to only use the cert if the longest leg cleared so I requested that one first and when it cleared could have myself “wait listed” for the other leg and will again be contacted when that clears at no extra cost in certificates. For me, I called and got my other leg cleared instantly after notice and still am waiting for complimentary medallion upgrade for the outbound part of the trip.

This really is the important part of this post so I will repeat it. Think about what flights are most important to you as it would be a shame to burn an upgrade on a 1-ish hour flight and then NOT clear on say a 4 hour flight that followed next. So if no space is open on the long one, wait list on THAT LEG ONLY and once it clears check on the other legs as part of your trip. Also, as touched on, check where the fare break is as you may be able to get more use out of the cert than you imagined you could (most times it is simple A-B is one cert then back home B-A is another).

Lastly what if you never get contacted? What if even the day of travel you are still waiting for news about your upgrade. Yes, on popular routes or routes Delta revenue management is really trying to up-sell you may have to wait until flight. Even then it is worth the cert as you will be WAY UP on the upgrade list and have a better chance at clearing at the gate.

Have any other Regional or Global upgrade cert questions, fire away as I think this post, and your questions, will be a good post to help so many get good use out of these very valuable gifts each year from Delta! – Rene

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. If you are going JAX to LAX through Atlanta. In this case do we have to use 2 regional upgrade certificates or just one?

    Thanks for your help.

    • @Sam – One cert from JAX-ATL-LAX and then another one for the way back. Clear?

  2. Hi Rene, thank you for the illustrations. I got a v/m (call) and email one month before departure as my JFK/LAX non-stop got cleared in D1. Best use of the RUC since the new DL policy change for PM /DM to use RUC on this route. There are still plenty of D1 seats–maybe DL will monetize them later towards the departure date? So RUC is for one way only right? There’s no way to “squeeze” an RUC on the r/t itinerary?

    • @Ben – As mentioned in post, check route. Sometimes the route rules can break in strange places and you can sorta “squeeze” the trip in unexpected ways.

  3. First of all….I LOVE your blog…it is VERY helpful. If I call Delta to have my co-workers itinerary ‘linked’ to mine, can I use a RU for each of us to get upgraded on a flight MSP-LAX?

  4. I have used 3 of my 4 RU certs so far this year, and 2 of those I was waitlisted, but always showed as #1 on the UG list at the gate, and always got the requested upgrades. On my last round trip one of my certs disappeared from my cert list, not closed, just gone. How can I know if that was was really used, or just screwed up by Delta IT?

  5. Hey, Rene. I am waitlisted with RUCs for JFK-LAX and LAX-JFK next week. As I have no doubt that these will not clear until I am at the gate, regardless of how many seats are left, I’m wondering if I will be put on the upgrade list automatically. Since there are once again no more complimentary transcon upgrades, even for DMs, I could see there not being any upgrade list at all. Any ideas?

  6. So how do they work on a multi stop trip like MLI-ATL-TPA-DFW-MLI???

  7. I think the very important point you make about RUs applies to GUs as well. Waitlist on the international segment first so the GU isn’t used if the domestic segment clears but the international one does not.

    Also are there firm policies and procedures on being added to and the position on the upgrade list if you are waitlisted on a RU/GU? I have been told different things by different delta employees and my experienced has been mixed. I’ve been added to the airport upgrade list but that is after DM, PM, GM and probably FOs have gotten complementary upgrades. So that does not give any priority to the GU upgrade waitlist.

  8. Rene you may have covered this in other post but upgrade certs can only be used with paid economy seats. You can not combo skymiles and certs. In addition to email and text confirmation there is one other way and that would be to find out at the gate when they also clear upgrades.

    • @DDiamond – You clear at gate on UG list but again will be high up in list.

  9. Rene, If someone is waitlisted with an RU/GU, how is upgrade priority prioritized between RU/GUs and complementary upgrades? I have had differing explanations from delta reps and I have found no definitive explanation on the website. Some reps say RU/GUs have priority over all complementary upgrades. But if that is the case, then if anyone waitlisted for RU/GU upgrade for a given flight remains on that list on the day of travel, then delta could upgrade no one from the complementary upgrade list at the normal 5+, 5, 3, and 1 day prior to departure. Am I missing something here possibly? Where and what are the rules? Please enlighten me. Thanks.

    • @John – Top of list at gate. Otherwise up to rev mgt to open RU space. You clear 6,5,3,1 on status and fare class.

  10. I found last year that you can book a GLOBAL Upgrade beyond the date of expiration as long as it clears at the time of booking. For those who can plan that far ahead its a great PLUS to be able to use your GU after the expiration date. If you are flexible, they will help you find flights where you clear at the time of booking.

  11. Delta Segment Flyer Reply

    Great post Rene as I had just done this for the first time. Year 1, I got none as I had already claimed my gifts. Applying RUC for the first time.

    I called and have the RUC waitlisted on 3 of my 4 legs (2 out, 2 in). However, just FYI they show as OPEN on my certs page.

    Now I may or may not have messed up but I have been cleared on my last leg already (ATL-TRI) but I got told I could cancel that later. However, I realize that if I was that long I could lose my EC+.

    In Hindsight it sounds like I could have had the option of just wait listing on the long flight.

    I know I am rambling but I guess the good thing about doing it though is I still could get the upgrade at the gate (traveling with non-status wife).

    Despite all of my segments I am a rookie with RUC’s! Thanks as always!

    Delta Segment Flyer

  12. Delta Segment Flyer Reply

    Also a follow up. It does mess up your trip on the App as it shows it Multi City!

  13. Rene,

    Thanks for all of the excellent information you provide in you blog I have only being traveling for work for the last year, and the blog has really helped. I currently a GM but will make PM later this month. I recently bought 2 coach award tickets for SLC/JFK/SJU. With the latest schedule change delta changed our red eye flights to planes with delta one seats. So I wanted to try and get us in to the delta one seats. My plan was to now buy my wife a ticket with a credit I got for taking a bump, and use a RU for her. Since both flights are Saturday night red eyes I figure I have a good change of upgrading on status so I was going to stay on my award ticket. The flights we have also went on sale this week so I have called delta a few times to get this done and was told 1. To be on the same itinerary we must both either be on award tickets or on paid tickets, no mixing and matching, is this correct? 2. I was told that also I cannot use an RU for my wife unless I am also using one for me is that correct?


    • @Chris – Must be paid (bump vouchers do work btw) to use RUs and yes both must have a cert applied.

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