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I am sorry, I have committed the unforgivable: FCM – (but wait, I can explain)!

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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.

delta FCM or First Class Monetization - did i do an unforgivable act renes points blog
The unforgivable act of First Class Monetization

Yes, I did it. I feel so ashamed that this force has “awakened” in me. I admit it, I have committed the unforgivable deed of FCM. I feel like dirt. No, the froth under the pond-scum. This is so horrible – YES – I have committed FCM or First Class Monetization and purchased a 1st class upgrade after ticketing!

But wait, I have an explanation that may go a long way toward redemption and forgiveness or maybe even be a way out. Before you condemn and sentence me to back row middle seat, let me try to explain my heinous actions.

I was wise enough to follow my own advice and JUMP on the 100,000 point CNB Crystal card deal that I broke back on 1OCT15. You see this card is just amazing. It comes with $250 travel credit for incidentals, including seat costs. Most AA flyers who got this card have been able to buy AA gift cards and get credit back but I tested and it did not work with Delta e-Gift cards. So… I had to spend the credit some way before 31DEC15 as it resets on 1JAN16 and I then get another $250 again. #Winning!

Thus, I did the dastardly deed. I spent the money for an upgrade from coach to 1st class on a trip and will let CNB credit me back for the seat charge. But does this absolve me from the unforgivable act of being seduced by Delta’s shameful FCM?

I have personally taken a FIRM and unwavering stand that I will NOT take part in FCM no matter what or how ridiculously and shamefully low the offer was. I will not help Delta this way when I should be getting rewarded for my loyalty with complementary upgrades as they promised on TV to us all (see video above). But then again there can be circumstances when you can earn a bunch more MQMs so there can be times it can be smart to FCM to help keep your Medallion status.

very cheap delta upgrade to 1st class from GoldboxATL on twitter
It would be hard to say NO to this el’Cheap’O!

But what if someone else is paying? What if, like in my case, I pay nothing out of my pocket. I guess it could be the same way if you have an expense account and can submit up to some dollar amount and get credit back – would that count in my moral dilemma as well?

So you tell me. Please vote in my poll below and you tell me what you think about my succumbing to the lure of unspent credit vouchers at the cost of a lily white FCM conscience or what you would do! – René

So about the unforgivable act of FCM by René or what you would do?

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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. Rene – I get the sentiment behind the protest, but in a world where (was it the CFO of) Delta announced that free upgrades will be gone by 2018 – your protest strikes me as cutting off your nose to spite your face. You have two choices as I see it:
    1) Move from Delta to another carrier who have made no such claims (although you run the significant risk that they follow at some point)
    2) If you continue to love whatever the operational kool-aid story Delta is selling you – suck it up and pay for first class – if first class is important to you – or resign yourself to coach forever.

    How I would personally evaluate this is – if you really want to ‘stick it to them’ – why give them a dime of revenue at all. Move you $xxK per year spend to someone else – and if enough of folks like you leave – perhaps they’ll notice, figure out why – and maybe determine it makes economic sense to do something about it. At the moment they have you on the gerbal wheel where – resistance is futile…you will pay for first class or else.

    Safe travels – whatever you decide is right for you.

  2. Confession: I too FCM’d yesterday. But it’s on #AA and for a Christmas Eve flight with my wife and kid, so it doesn’t count, right?? And maybe I can use my FlexPerks credit too!

  3. Shame shame shame. But it’s the new normal on our beloved Delta in the very near future. I might start looking at purchasing paid FC vs. looking at the economy or C+ and seeing what the buy up cost will be to FC and selecting the cheaper option. After all we have 24 hours to cancel the ticket after purchase…

  4. Even as DM, I’ll confess I have FCM most of the year. It helps with getting back to DM; although I do it somewhat selectively. My main FCM was at the end of October when I had an 800 dollar voucher and several long work flights cross country. Since it was Delta voucher money paying for it all I felt better about it :). Overall though, if I want to guarantee myself in front I buy first – especially when traveling personal time – or pick routes I know I’ll get at the window.

  5. 1. You strongly believe that selling upgrades is wrong and basically cheats Medallions out of upgrades, therefore you will not buy them under any circumstances. Presumably because you believe that not buying will somehow affect Delta’s behavior.
    2. Delta continues to sell the upgrades because it is revenue for them.
    3. Every successful sale (no matter how small) confirms that Delta’s view is correct since they are generating revenue.
    4. By buying the upgrade you validate Delta’s strategy.
    5. Therefore, under no circumstances should you buy the upgrade. It doesn’t matter how great a deal it is or who pays for it.
    6. You have sinned.

    On the other hand, if you believe that Delta will not change this policy under any circumstances, you are silly to not buy the upgrade at this extremely cheap price. Or at any price that that you find attractive.

    So what did you say was the price you would pay to buy an upgrade?

  6. @goldboxATL Reply

    Mad Mark— you do understand Delta is a business and will run itself like one.

    • @goldboxATL – Don’t forget a business who promised loyal flyers more upgrades! 😉

  7. @goldboxATL Reply

    Rene- Did delta say “come fly with us, you will get more UGs? I don’t think so. Upgrades are a privilege, not a right.

  8. You can buy AA gift cards and sell them to the gift card selling sites for about 81% of face value.

  9. @goldboxATL
    If you had taken the time to watch the linked commercial, they did indeed claim that.

    I have purchased an FCM upgrade on several occasions, since my upgrade percentage as a GM was 0%. Now that I’m a PM, I’ll only buy an upgrade if it is a killer of a deal.

  10. I’m with @goldboxATL. Do you really expect DL to not sell something there is obviously a market for so they can give it to elite flyers who act like they are entitled to these? Delta is a business. Doing as you suggest would just put more upward pressure on economy and C+ fares.

    • @Derek – Why give anything to elites then. This is a business. Dump the Medallion program and give nothing away for loyalty. Oh wait, then they don’t get money from selling miles and then folks will not be loyal to Delta at all and maybe fly other airlines. Humm…

  11. Glad to see there are legit reasons for FCM, which I did 5x last year. I had 50% upgrade success, in part related to zero paid FC inventory 2 weeks out.

    Like most commodities, I don’t worry about whether Delta “deserves” the revenue, just like it doesn’t bother me that Apple has 20% profit when I’m trying to decide which computer to buy. If it’s worth it to me, I buy it.

    I think Rene is getting lost in the fact that it was “free”. It still displaced another person from getting a comp UG, unless it was sold out.

  12. I’m currently over the Great Lakes seated in First thanks to an FCM. If it’s a good deal, why not? It isn’t like Delta’s going to stop doing it because a few folks refuse to take advantage of the offer. I’m a lowly Gold so this is great. They just fed me Cheerios!

  13. Personally don’t have an issue with FCM. Its a biz, and both side “play” as much as they can. And btw, I got the $250 “rebate” back for simply using “other method” you seen discussed in the Crystal FlyerTalk forum. While had my doubts it would work, it did, just took few more days to post than I would have thought.

  14. I bought a FCM-ed FC seat on UA once ASE-DEN to check 2 bags that I otherwise would have paid $60 in bag charges for (Skis + Luggage). The FCM price was also $9. I had paid the $60 on the outbound so not entirely sure why they even offered me the FCM!!

  15. I have a “rule” of not paying more than 10 cents per additional MQM earned by upgrading. I look at it as a mini-mileage run with the added benefit of flying in FC. For others that also sometimes pay to upgrade, I’m curious how you evaluate whether or not to FCM.

    • @JL – For me, only if I can get a credit card to refund me back for doing it.

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