KLM is Opening up Cheap Fares for Upgrades & Matches Delta’s Overpriced Awards.

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klm upgrade examples with miles

Oh this looks nice. Or does it?

One of the common questions infrequent flyers ask all the times is what seems like a basic question, that is:

“Can I upgrade to 1st class with my miles on Delta”?

Until 1JUNE of this year I always said no because my guess is you did not purchase an expensive fare class ticket followed by did you buy the ticket on Delta.com or somewhere else. But as of about two weeks ago my answer now is yes domestically and maybe international flights as Delta says that:

“For travel on or after Jun 1, 2016:

Within North America (US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean) and Northern South America (Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela), Mileage Upgrade Awards may be used to upgrade on published Main Cabin fares booked in Y, B, M, S, H, Q, K, L, U, or T class.

For all other International markets, Mileage Upgrade Awards on Delta-marketed and operated flights may be used to upgrade on published Main Cabin fares booked in Y, B, M, S, H, Q, or K class.” – Delta.com

Now just because you CAN do a thing does not mean you SHOULD do a thing. Delta being Delta does not tell you how much it costs you to upgrade from a ticket, that is, they hide the upgrade charts  (<-LINK to charts) just like they hide the normal award charts (<-LINK to charts) from us.

klm upgrade miles fare page

KLM is, as of 1JULY16, opening up cheap fares (booked with KLM) for upgrades. Sounds great right? Not so fast.

fb miles upgrade calculator page

KLM does have a “handy” tool (rather than hiding the numbers) to tell you what it will cost to upgrade with Flying Blue points from whatever fare class ticket you have to business class.

example one way atl to ams klm upgrade

Really KLM? Really?!?!

Ouch. Take a look at that price to upgrade to business class from Atlanta to Amsterdam booked on a cheap fare class KLM ticket. Keep in mind that it is not all that hard to find a KLM business class award for 62,500 points so in this simple example, much like Delta’s ridiculous prices, you are paying MORE than the cost to outright buy an award, that is, you are paying 81,250 + whatever amount you spent in cash buying the ticket.

Bottom line is I am sure you will see folks flushing their hard earned SkyMiles down the upgrade drain at the new 1JUNE16 prices because they don’t know any better. Please don’t let this be you! – René


my new delta amex biz card

I just got this card – did you? 🙂



  1. I was told this six weeks ago at NRT Sky Club. I’m hoping it’s like 15,000 or 30,000 miles for Delta.

  2. The screenshot you attached is just showing how much it costs to book an economy award (saver level 25k and non saver level 82.5k), not how much it costs to upgrade. You need to select the booking code for your fare under “show advanced options” and click the “How many miles for an upgrade” button which will give you a very different result. The amount varies based on your original booking code and ranges from 15,000 to 45,000 from my experience.

  3. Thanks, Rene. I found it. Who in their right mind would spend 30,000 miles each way to upgrade to Delta’s pathetic business-class from Atlanta to Mexico/Caribbean on ancient 757-200 aircraft with drop-down TV monitors from the ceiling?

  4. And 115,000 miles to upgrade into business-class to Guam, Palau and Saipan? That’s absurd. They fly mostly 757-200s on these flights–sometimes a 747–from NRT. The JFK/ATL-NRT segment is nice at 14-plus hours, but the final stretch is absurd.

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