Travel Related

I made such a rookie Delta Regional Upgrade cert mistake, but then again Delta REV MGT made one as well!

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
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.

This does not look good!

I could make all kinds of excuses for this one. I mean, I could blame the fact that I am soooo busy with breaking my last year’s MQD exempt spend record – that is, hitting my goal of ~7 days this year that I missed the obvious, but my mistake was WAY before the 1st. Or, I could maybe blame my mistake on the fact that December was, by far, the single most lucrative MS month ever and I did not even apply for a single new point card earning all those points and cash, but that is not going to really help me one bit either.

Plus, when you get right down to it, I have dragged a frequent flyer buddy along for my mistake and he is just not going to let me live this one down for many thousands of miles. Try to picture in your mind the monster from the C-Pap-Zilla swamp attacking me at 500 MPH – the stuff nightmares are made of. If you cannot see this in your brain then be sure to join me at the FTU event in Seattle and I will share this moment that is seared into my mind for all time. 😉

So what is my rookie mistake that I am trying to justify my way out of today? Well let me jump in with more justification first (like it is going help my case – not). In my mind I am always thinking of readers (oh, really, you are going there are you). You see, I was thinking about the new Delta perk from last year that I am thrilled with – that is, if you have a +1 who is not at your elite level they come up to your elite level when on the same reservation (paid, not award). This means, under these conditions, you really want to be on the same reservation. But there are still exceptions (go on, keep trying to dig yourself out of this one, René). Like when?

Well say you are on an award ticket as a GM+ and your +1 is not a GM+ but you want a shot at least of one of you upgrading to first class. Thus you can split the reservation and then if you upgrade you two can fight over who gets the nice seat and who gets stuck back in coach. Nice right?

But an occasion you really DON’T want to split the reservation is when you go to use an RU or GU cert – that is, regional upgrade or global upgrade certificate. Do keep in mind that even though the rules from the mothership say you have to be traveling together on the same reservation, if you book two but then link the two reservations, and are on the exact same flights, you can still use your certs for the both of you this way.

(René, are you ever going to get to the point where you messed up). OK time for my rookie mistake. You see there are always exceptions and adjustments to every rule from Delta and my flight coming up, that you see above, falls into that category. A certain TexasYankee and I are going to SXM this weekend to meet up with a bunch of bloggers and readers. I happened to use one of my bump vouchers to pay for the tickets for both of us but we used his RUs to upgrade all but one of the segments. The only one that did not clear just about right away happened to be a transcon. Clearly we booked the most direct route to SXM and that meant flying to California first (hey, we are all about the bonus MQMs after all). But here is where I goofed up.

We are both Diamond Medallions!

I hope you see my error, if not let me help you see it. You see when the mothership’s REV MGT gremlins come out to play they can make our lives miserable. What happens, many times, is they part and parcel out seats willy nilly one at a time when they feel like it (key point to take note of) . Thus, in the particular case, when you happen to be two on the reservation then you, even though you may be first one the RU upgrade wait list, will be skipped over and the one person below you as a single will be elevated to the 1st class seat since only one seat had opened up and not two. Grrr… Stupid brain.

Thus over the many weeks leading up to this trip I have watched a 100% empty 1st class flight with seat after seat disappear and not one single time did I think to myself that I really should consider splitting this reservation so that at least one of us (if not both) could score that sweet 1st class full flat Delta One transcon upgrade! (I can hear TexasYankee yelling at the screen IH8U right now).

What you should take from this, and learn, is that we should always think about all the pieces on the Delta chessboard. The moment we slip into complacency is the time another medallion scores the upgrade we should and could have had. On to point two where Delta REV MGT made a mistake and lost out to me.

RU space NEVER opened up! Grrrr

Take a look at the two screen shots above for my flight tomorrow. You see I have a chance, on my way to position to my long flight to SXM, to ride mid-con on a Delta international bird with full flat seats. Nice!

When I first booked this flight the ENTIRE 1st class cabin was empty. I asked, since I have a few RUs I still have to burn from last year, if there was any RU upgrade space open. You would think so with not a single seat sold but – NOPE! So I was wait listed. Even 7 days out, with still half of the seats open, the creatures in REV MGT never opened up a single seat for RU space. So I pulled my cert from “wait listed” and gambled that my complimentary medallion upgrade would clear. But I am greedy when it comes to upgrades so at the 3 day mark when I had yet to clear I called again just to see if a single seat for RU space had opened up (as I would have burned the cert if it was open). NOPE again even with 15 seats open!

Well yesterday afternoon I got the e-mail that my medallion upgrade had in fact cleared. Sweet – but think about this for a moment. Delta had a chance for me to burn an RU cert, that clearly I really did not need to burn, and prevent it from possibly being used another time on a segment that they could have sold a seat in 1st class for income that will now maybe be lost to them since they were so stingy on a flight they should not have been so stingy on. That is the blunder they made.

This is not an isolated case as Delta IT is still struggling with stupidly overpricing E BASIC fares as you can see in this FlyerTalk thread. And there are an equal number of documented examples where either C+ or even 1st class ends up pricing cheaper than coach seats. All of this, including my example, are embarrassing incidents that need to be fixed as it costs everyone at Delta money including $DAL shareholders.

So which of these two is the greater “sin”? Well since I am hardly ever wrong (yeah right) so I am calling out Delta’s mistake as the worse of the two (you may not agree but I am OK with that – sorta). Bottom line is this. When it comes to the frequent flyer “game” in 2017 it is up to us to understand all the tiny bits that can impact us and make the choices that help us most. Don’t be lazy or make the rookie mistakes I made as it could really cost you when you want it most! – 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.


  1. Rene,
    I really hope that you bringing attention to the regional upgrade cert problem will lead to some changes for Delta. Delta has lost 75% of my business this past year to AA due to my inability to use the RU certs. And I hate American. Nothing, and I mean nothing (not skyruble devaluation, not egregious multi-city pricing, not award layover changes) has infuriated me more than Delta blocking RU use on a completely empty cabin. I understand if they don’t want to give the last seat away, but…
    Dear Delta, do not promise me a benefit that you are not prepared to issue. Crooked.

    • @Barry – I hear you. RU space is at an all time low. It really is frustrating beyond belief to have an advertised perk that is almost non existent!

  2. Rene,

    Was that the ATL flight to LAX? I have flown that before, as a PLT, but never got an upgrade. I figured with so many Diamonds in ATL the chances of getting upgraded, even as a DM, was tough.

  3. In a situation today of a +1 in a different, but linked reservation. I put RUs on both. I cleared and she did not. If the RU is not cleared prior to check in on a linked record the + 1 are no longer on the upgrade list. Several calls to the diamond desk and we can’t change it.

    • @Scott – Sometimes they need to uncheck and then you recheck in to fix that issue. Or, uncheck and reissue the ticket fixes that bug. Yes both are frustrating.

  4. dotti cahill Reply

    why must they make it so complicated??I need spred sheets to follow all of the many old and new rev rules etc they add to us////

  5. As a PM, I had four RU certs in the 2016 Medallion year and applied them to four or five different flights, each with a guest traveling with me. ONE of them cleared (last flight of the year on a 45 minute hop from LAX to LAS…gee, thanks) and I’m stuck with three RUs. I finished #1 on the upgrade list each time I wasn’t upgraded (and business always boarded full). For two of the flights, business was EMPTY for the SIX MONTHS prior to the trip. The RUs never cleared.

    As you mentioned a couple weeks ago, Rene, the RU certs seem like a bait and switch. I had plenty of upgrades without the RUs and think I’ll probably opt for the miles or gift card for 2017. I have far more say in how and when to actually use 20k miles or a $200 GC than I do RUs — which are subject to shena, FCM, etc.

  6. TexasYankee Reply

    Come see Rene’s flaming Viking Funeral off the beach in SXM as the planes land just inches overhead. Rene will be sent to the afterlife strapped to a basic economy seat shaped Viking Ship. But it will make such a blazing final blog post video!

  7. @TexasYankee – can you upgrade him to a C+ seat. He’ll feel like it was an upgrade right until you strap him in. Anyways friends don’t let friends go basic.

  8. Phil in ATL Reply

    @Todd and @TexasYankee: Make sure it’s a side grade to the middle seat in C+ LOL

    We love you Renè!!!!

  9. Bill Lewis Reply

    OK here is one that I have no idea how (but I like it maybe something new on Delta) doing a recent RU with a connecting flight, different flight number i RU got me upgraded on both legs? Agent saying, sure you can use i RU and you will be upgraded on both of your segments. Never had that happen and would like to know if anyone else has. Safe travels to all in 2017 Rene is the man!

Write A Comment