Is the Silver Medallion Award Upgrade to First Class Change Really a big deal? Does it matter? Yep!

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This IS a Keep Climbing worthy change!

Yesterday afternoon @semajkung tipped me off to the changes on the Delta SkyMiles News & Updates page that now shows Silver Medallions (again as “back in the day” you could as well) on award tickets can upgrade all the way to first class (not just C+). If you are now a Silver you maybe be saying:

“So what – not going to happen anyway”!

Now I agree that this one the face of things looks like a “meh” moment. If you are a Silver you have seen your name out of Atlanta near the bottom of a 50 or 60 or 80+ upgrade list with maybe one or two seats open. Your chance on an award ticket (fare class matters for upgrades) will be so tiny that this change just does not matter one bit. But I think there are many situations this Delta change does help. Let’s look at a few.

The first thing about this that stands out to me, and that Delta should be warmly commended for, is they are once again showing some “love” for the lowest rank elites rather than just beating them up and taking more away. This, to me, is really a nice change. #KeepClimbing worthy.

Now the biggest impact I see from this is when you are a solo silver on an award. You now have a shot at an upgrade to first class you did not have before. And it can happen. Oh really, like when? Sure not on a Monday morning out of just about any Delta hub city but off peak times there can be a shot. On Saturdays there can be a real shot or markets like the Caribbean where at times first class seats go empty because there are no more elites to upgrade at all (even SPG Crossover Rewards elites).

The other positive part of this change is it slightly makes gifting Silver status as a Platinum “Choice Benefit” a little more valuable. Now I am not saying this makes is a no brainer, but the bottom line is it does add some value and adding vs taking value away is a big deal when before this year we have seen nothing but cuts to SkyMiles. I will take anything positive we can get.

How else does this matter? Think #TeamBoardLast. Before this change, as a Silver on an award, you might as well board. Now, if I were a Silver, I would be the last body on the jet as we know the chance to score that upgrade still matters most if you are the last one standing and someone who had the upgrade did not show up.

As a Silver you are fighting for every perk you can get. You are at the entry point of elite status and not “that” loved by Delta or Skyteam. But this change shows that maybe, just maybe, Delta is slowly changing that feeling once again. I am pleased! – René

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  1. Thanks for posting this! This already happened to me this past Saturday (10/08/2016) and, as a Silver Medallion, I couldn’t figure out why. I was traveling on an award ticket from Indianapolis to Detroit and was upgraded all the way to First. I thought maybe it was because of my Delta Reserve card, but now it makes sense. On the way home, I was only upgraded to C+, but still happy. Next time, I will wait to board since I noticed two empty seats in First that were previously taken on the seat map. Thanks again!

  2. True story: wife (silver) upgraded to first on a 7am Msp > slc half empty 757. Psh, I took the upgrade and she sat in coach with our kids.

  3. I’m PM and my girlfriend doesn’t have status. This could be a huge difference for us, as we often use awards for vacation and we have to split PNR for me to have a shot at an upgrade. I presume under the new upgrade rules (if Delta ever employs them) we would both clear in my PM status for upgrades. Given how hard RUs have been to use, this may be a better option to gift her silver.

  4. @Opposite – No. The companion certs are non-upgradable period. In the OLD days you could split and UG one of the two. No more. Delta IT has “fixed” that workaround.

  5. Rene, sorry for the rookie question, but how does teamboardlast work? do u just wait and look at screen to see if the people in front of list are no show and get automatic upgrade, or do u have to push the GA for the upgrade? Thanks, RookieSilverMedallion Nick 🙂

  6. @Rene – (to Opposite’s response) — Do the companion certs allow C+ at least or not even that? I discovered that award tickets with DM+1 in main cabin don’t even allow C+ — that’s one negative this year I guess…

  7. I do still do not quite understand Delta Medallions System.

    ~ Do I loss my status every year by 12/31 or January 31?
    ~ Do I start with no status every year in January 1 or February 1?
    In 2016 for the first time I earned SM status in combination of flights and Amex Benefits. I could earn GM before 12/31. But since I will lose the Medallion status I don’t want to reach GM before end of the year. I rather rollover MQM to 2017.

    Is my understanding accurate? What should I do.

  8. Thank you for the reference Rene, not too many people have the patience to guide.

    So this year I am earning status for the next calendar year [2017] and the status will last for a full term from the date is earned? or from 1/1 to 12/31? – is my understanding
    however, i must meet the same criteria {SM or GM] during the 2017 year in order to maintain the status or will lose it or downgraded the following period [2018]

    it will be for my best interest and benefit to earn gold in 2016 and enjoy the GM benefit during the entire 2017 then.

    Hope i have it right this time.

  9. @Vladimir – If you earned status in 2016 you have it this year and next year and it end 1FEB18. On 1JAN17 the year resets and if you want status for 2018 you have to earn it again in 2017. Clear?

  10. Yes, now I am cleared Rene. Thank you for the patience

    Also want to say, I decided to apply for the delta reserve rather than upgrading. They have the promotional welcome offer of 10k MQM + 10k Miles after the first purchase. Better than spending $3000 or more in order to gain the promotion.

    All the best and thank you for the education. vp

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