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Delta expands Diamond Global Upgrade perks to KLM code-share discount fares!

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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.


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One of the greatest possible values of attaining Delta Diamond Medallion status is the perk of being able to select as a “Choice Benefit” Global Upgrade certificates. They can literally be worth thousands of dollars in value depending on where you fly and utilize the certificates to upgrade to business class from cheap coach fares (E class is excluded).

Until recently these certificates have really only been of true value when you have selected Delta metal flights, that is, flights that are Delta operated. Two partners, KLM and Air France, have been available but only if you selected Y, B or M class fares that can often be as expensive (or more expensive) than discounted business class fares thus making them all but useless to most flyers.

However, recently Delta has made a change when it comes to KLM Code Shared flights per the link on Delta.com describing the T&C about the certs. Notice the updated wording that states on Delta.com:

REDEMPTIONS ON KLM – ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES

Valid on Delta-marketed, KLM-operated flights for use globally on published Main Cabin fares booked in Y, B, M, S, H, Q, K, L, U, T, X or V class to Business Class.
Valid on all KLM-marketed, KLM-operated flights from published Main Cabin fares in Y, B, or M class to Business Class.
Global Upgrades on KLM flights must be confirmed 24 hours prior to departure.
For flights departing Amsterdam, Global Upgrade Certificates may be applied prior to check-in either with a KLM ticketing agent or at a KLM Crown Lounge.
Global Upgrade Certificates may not be used to waitlist for a KLM-operated flight

REDEMPTIONS ON AIR FRANCE

Valid on most transatlantic flights operated by Air France.¹
One-way upgrade from Main Cabin when booked in Y, B, or M class to Premium Voyageur Class.
or
One-way upgrade from Premium Voyageur when booked in S or W class to Business Class.
¹ Not valid on AF operated 747 aircraft flights; only valid on flights with the Premium Economy Cabin.

new full flat klm business class seat bookable with delta global upgrade code share
Photo courtesy KLM

This really is exiting news. KLM’s full flat product, while all seats do not offer unobstructed aisle access like Delta does, is a very nice new product.

side view new klm business class full flat seats
Photo courtesy KLM

I have yet to fly the new KLM full flat seat (thanks to highly restricted award space as KLM and Delta do not play very nice when it comes to premium award space) but reports from those who have say the product is an outstanding business class full flat seat.

Do take careful note it is ONLY code share flights that will be open to these Global Upgrade certificate eligibility. The exact same flight that is booked with a KLM code (i.e. marketed) will not be eligible under the new discounted Global Upgrade fares, that is, you are back to Y, B & M fares.

Air France, despite the partnership with KLM, is not eligible as of yet under this new code share upgrade arrangement with Delta. This is frustrating but do keep in mind one of the big differences between KLM and Air France is that they offer a “real” Premium Economy product while KLM offers a Comfort Plus type product similar to Delta (that is same seat, just some tiny extra perks).

I would not be surprised to see an improvement in perks not only for Air France soon but also for Virgin Atlantic as well as long as they too offer code share operated flights. The key factor in this, it seems to me, is Delta needs to be earning a piece of the pie if they are going allow Diamond elites to qualify for upgrades at the lower fare classes they currently enjoy on Delta operated flights.

Overall this really is a positive change and I commend Delta for this. I would have loved to see many other partners included but one step at a time and any improvements in Medallion perks are greatly appreciated even with code share restrictions! – René

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.

19 Comments

  1. One thing to note however, is the new mileage earning on KLM flights that kicked in back in Feb to align with Delta flights.

    • @Paul – When I am saving thousands of dollars and flying business class how many miles I earn are flight are far from a priority to me. I look at this almost as an award ticket with a high fee 😉

  2. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    I can’t think of many routes where KLM’s business-class product is really worth the global upgrade certificate. I suppose if I was going to India through Amsterdam. Otherwise, I think I would rather use it on Delta. Air France’s business-class product is far superior to KLM. It’s a pity Delta won’t let me buy Air France business-class and then apply a global upgrade certificate to get a seat into Air France’s first-class.

    • @FNT – Well soon if you want to fly a 747 the only way will be a KLM Delta code-share flight (I will miss these old NWA birds)!

  3. René, don’t you think the real issue here is that Delta needs to find seats for their DMs to burn these GUs?

  4. Rene,

    Thanks for this. As someone who has not really ever purchased, on purpose, a codeshare ticket. When booking on DL is it easy to see that it is a codeshare? I assume that if I am on DL’s site, and the flight to AMS is KLM metal, but I book it all on DL, that is a true codeshare?

    Thanks

    • @Sam – Yes, you want to book on Delta.com and make SURE it has DL in front of the number for the flight. I would call and confirm space with Delta before you book anyway.

  5. Pingback: Delta Improves International Upgrades and American Improves Whiskey - View from the Wing

  6. This is great news! I am flying home from Dubai on KLM Dreamliner. Booked on Delta.com. Hopefully they will be able to find me space! However, I am not ready to request my GUs since the trip isn’t until November and they expire after 12 months and I won’t have another trip to use them on this year.

    • @Jason – Agree but I would call and see if there is open space NOW. If there is, think hard if it is worth selecting NOW. Then really be aware of your exp clock. It is a hard choice I know but the Dreamliner ride will be great!

  7. KLM’s new biz class seats are just like DL B757 D1 and AeroMexico B787 Premier Clase in a 2-2 or 2-2-2 config.

  8. Can you use this upgrade certificate and code shared Korean Air flights?

  9. Pingback: Delta Expands Global Upgrade Eligibility On KLM Flights

  10. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    Don’t forget the KLM agents in Amsterdam will generally sell you an upgrade into business-class. It’s normally like 25,000 miles or a few hundred euros. This might be a better bargain than an upgrade certificate. I’d save my certificate for JFK-NRT-SIN, a route in who h Delta’s business-class airfares can approach or exceed $10,000.

  11. What’s the fare class bucket to see upgrade inventory on KLM for GUC upgrades?

  12. My experience using Diamond Global Upgrades certs on intra-European KLM flights. In February 2016, I booked travel to Finland via AMS in May and used my GU to upgrade the DTW-AMS-DTW segments. After the April change allowing GU to upgrade KL code shared (DL marketed, KL operated), I have been calling repeatedly to upgrade the AMS-HEL-AMS segments but was told “no inventory.” Today, the Diamond rep went the extra mile for me. First, she was unaware of the new T&C for GU, but I must of gotten her curiosity piqued, because she called the DL overseas desk, got them to go into the Amadeus system, and performed the following trick. First, they had to rebook by KLM flights from Delta-Mkt/KL-Op V class to KL-Mkt/KL OP M class. Then, they could upgrade both segments into KL Z class.

    Yeah, I know KL intra-European business class is no biggie – still 3×3 seating but the middle seats are blocked so you get elbow but not butt room. And the sandwich is heated! But it’s good to know how to help the DL Diamond folks to get into the correct computer system.

    Kudos to Delta.

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