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Rookie Wednesday: A Warning when you book 2 Delta flights with 1 flight number!

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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.

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.

Ruh Roh – Is this going to cost me an upgrade? Maybe! 🙁

I have a sinking feeling a number of folks who are flying with me on the 747 elite mileage run to Manila are not going to be all to happy with me after this post (don’t worry, I am in the same boat as the rest of you). So what is my Ruh Roh moment I am talking about?

Take a look at the big red arrows in the screen shot above. After our glorious flight on the Delta 747 “Queen of the Skies” we change planes in Japan. Our next flight, a Boeing 767-300 has the exact same flight number as the first flight. Is that not confusing or what?

Now you may be saying – so what. What does it matter. Most times it is simply no big deal, but it can be a very big deal. Let’s look at a few examples.

We all know a flight from MSP or Minneapolis to Seattle is a medallion upgradeable flight. So is a flight from Seattle to Hawaii. But what if (not saying this exists right now so don’t flame me) you book a flight MSP-SEA-HNL and both of these flights are one flight number. This would mean, even though each leg technically is upgradable for elites, it is NOT as one single flight number.

Rules for Delta Regional Upgrade certs

Let’s look at another example. Say you are flying with me to Manila and have requested a Global Upgrade on the 747. There is one little problem that may mean others could upgrade ahead of you. You see since it is one flight number, BOTH of the segments must open up for upgrade before either segment is eligible for upgrade. Thus, if someone is only flying to Japan from Detroit on the flight above they could clear a Global upgrade ahead of you (and me) who is waiting for both segments to clear at once.

Is there a solution? Yes and no (as reps have told me again and again). The day you book you can try to call and have them split the segments into two even though they are just one flight number. Then the issue goes away as each segment can clear on it’s own. However, this can and often does result in a repriced ticket that is substantially higher in cost than the single number dual segment flights. That is the irritating part of this little issue.

The only other issue is time. There can be times that Delta really does not quite allow enough time to make your connection if an international customs clearing and reclearing security comes into play. Again, 99 out 100 this is NOT an issue but any delay in customs and you could be in a world of hurt so know this.

Have you ever run into any issue with a single flight number with two segments? Let us know in the comments below! – 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. Jason Crawford Reply

    I fly Delta 393 from ORD ATL PTY. All legs are eligible for medallion upgrade. First time I flew this routing, I noticed my name was not on list and seats went out empty on both legs. I called and was told had to be manually listed on both segments. I avoid this now by taking an earlier flight, but when I have to I always make sure to check in with the gate agent. In addition to the upgrade issues, I have often arrived in PTY with no bags as well that get stuck in ATL which adds to the frustration as only one flight a day goes into PTY.

  2. Santastico Reply

    The one that I take quite often and I scratch my head all the time is MSP-DTW-GRU. The MSP-DTW is DL53 on a MD80. When you get in Detroit you take DL53 on a A330. Most bizarre is that at the gate at MSP the display shows GRU (Sao Paulo) as the destination as if there was a non-stop flight between MSP and GRU (I wish there was). Eitehr Delta ran out of numbers for their flights or this is the most stupid decision anyone has made.

  3. When I had the same flight number for two different legs, I couldn’t select different seats for the two legs. I had to have the same seat on both legs.

  4. I think also there is a risk of losing MQM on two segments that share a flight number. For example, if you were flying DTW-LAX via SEA on different flight numbers, you would earn miles for DTW-SEA and SEA-LAX. If the flight numbers are the same, you would only get miles for DTW-LAX even though you transferred in SEA.

  5. TexasYankee Reply

    Why does Delta dangle those GUs as an awesome benefit when it is almost impossible to use them? My wife still hates me due to the return from HKG being wide open up until 2 hrs before boarding (when the seat maps vanished) yet our GUs did not clear. Now in my attempt to use these GUs on the 747 trip I am told even though it is wide open the seats are not released and my GUs may expire before the trip takes place. Swell.
    And to make the travel experience more enjoyable is the way passengers are treated as almost sub human when they are in the back of the plane vs up front. Even though I was in FC or Delta One or whatever it is called today on the outbound trip with same crew.
    Delta’s glib answers to the objections of the “bait and switch” equipment change will be interesting to hear. (and just as distasteful)

    Foolish me for believing the promises of glamorous award travel from Delta for all these years.

  6. I’m on the NRT-DTW portion of flight 276 right now. It’s even confusing in the app since status is listed to/from MNL, which has no impact on my flights. Thankfully I wasnt using an upgrafe cert to get upstairs. Sale fare was awesome! Love this bird! 747 rocks!!

  7. I thought this same flight number seating issue had been corrected?

    Assumed because a couple of my flights home this Oct and Dec — both: HKG-SEA-ATL are DL 38 and I hadn’t been able to get comfort+ until a schedule change happened at least a month ago and now I can, even though the flight numbers remained the same.

    (However, my Dec return has since changed again where the SEA – ATL flight number switched completely which solved the comfort+ issue, but you can’t always count on that.)

    Now I’m beginning to think I encountered a lucky IT glitch!

  8. Have fun on the Manilla elite mileage run. With René as your wing man Sheena has virtually no chance of stealing your seats.

  9. Another feafure of the same flight number is that you earn MQMs as if it were one flight. Not really an issue for flights over 500 miles. But I have done LAS-LAX-SAN and got something like 600 miles instead of 1000.

  10. I recently booked DEN-MSP-AMS-DUS, with DEN-MSP and MSP-AMS both being DL160. I’ve had similar encounters without any problems, but here the fun started when Delta decided to change the flight number of the DEN-MSP segment. Suddenly I had four segments instead of three, with an additional direct DEN-AMS connection (DL160). After that, I was told that I’d probably miss my connection, having -34 minutes to get back from AMS to some other flight in the itinerary. Took them 30+ minutes on the phone to (kind of) sort that out. I ended up with DEN-ATL-DUS, which would have been my first choice, if it hadn’t originally been somewhat more expensive.

  11. Had this exact same thing happen to me two weeks ago. Flew DFW-ATL-CDG which have the same flight number. I wanted to get on the upgrade list from DFW to ATL and as a DM and 4 open seats, chances were good. I asked delta twitter to assist and they said to ask the gate agent who would take care of it (they said the same flight number issue was known but easily resolved at the gate). I asked the ticket agent and sky club agent and got the same answer. No problem, I’ll simply ask the gate agent and get to the gate a little early. No luck, the gate agent and supervisor said there was nothing they could do. I was on the direct flight to Paris and thus not eligible. I had a further exchange with delta twitter after the fact and got the template apology. Yes, it’s a 2 hour flight so it wasn’t a huge deal but they are advertising benefits to medallions that are then rejected in these situations.

  12. These direct flights are relics of another era. DL needs to dumb those that involve a change of aircraft.

  13. DON IN ATL Reply

    Having the same flight number when there is an aircraft change should be illegal. It misrepresents the situation. People think they are safe and will get to their destination once they get on that plane, not realizing that if there is weather or mechanical issues, the second will go on without their plane landing at the connection gate. Many, many people book this multi segment/multi change flights with ONE FLIGHT NUMBER thinking they are on a non-stop, that they are protected from a missed connection, etc. I believe it’s fraudulent to sell flights this way. SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.

  14. Delta 7 is another example of this silly numbering system, used to go LAS-LAX-NRT, now its SLC-LAX-NRT. Not only is it a different aircraft, they are in different terminals at LAX. SLC-LAX arrives into LAX Terminal 2. LAX-NRT departs LAX out of TBIT…

  15. Jim Connolly Reply

    I did the same flight in May and loved the fact it was the same flight. Number. I requested global certificate to be used. I thought. I be using two one from Detroit then one from Tokyo but since the same flight number I only used one. I felt I got a 2 for 1 special. Jim

    • @Jim – One cert works for one way even if 2 or 3 flights (if they all clear)

  16. I was upgraded on both 767 segments. The rep said that if 747 segments did not clear, the GUCs would not be used. This seemed plausible since the upgrades had shown on the seat map for a couple of weeks but there had been no GUCs were shown as being used. I checked today and two have been closed. Expletive (deleted)! This is the second time this year delta reps have given totally false info on GUCs.

  17. Since it was mentioned, I did want to clarify that on the NRT to MNL connection, you will need to pass through security in Japan before connecting. I would not worry about missing the connecting flight, due to the large number of people going to MNL and Delta only offering one flight per day, I have seen them delay the NRT to MNL flight rather than put passengers on a competing airline. I do not think they could realistically accommodate all the connecting pax the next day, due to how full that 767 will be.

  18. Glenn and Leo are right, but it really can be a big deal.

    SFO -> MSP -> LHR (Flight 40, IIRC) gives you far fewer MQMs than SFO -> MSP -> LHR on two different flight numbers. I work very hard on Mileage runs to make sure every flight has a different number

  19. Yep this hurt me once as same flight number from ATL-LAX-OGG. separately they can upgrade but since same flight number I was not eligible at all. I do not understand why the same flight number would be used for two different flights. That has to make things more difficult for everyone, not just the customer.

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