Rookie Sunday: Medallions – Are you using Delta Same Day Change for more upgrades?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog 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 featured topic.

This looks good!

In a very popular post from last year on how to get more Delta 1st class upgrades, I briefly touched on one of the tools I use to get more upgrades, that is, SDC or Same Day Change. This takes work and, depending on your status, may even include some cost (fees waived for GM+). But it can help you if you are willing to work it and I think expanding on the possibilities is worth it’s own post with a real life example.

First off what is SDC. This tool, in a nutshell when you are 24 hours before flight, allows you to change to an earlier or later flight that same day (as your flight). There are a bunch of restrictions and you can read more about all the details on But this understanding is enough for us on the rookie level for what I want to cover, that is, more upgrades.

Just looks better up front!

I have just returned back from a trip out west and my upgrades for 2018 have been great as a Diamond with careful planning. In fact, I have or had cleared 7 of 8 segments so far – but I like 100% so I got to work when it was clear I was not going to clear one flight back home via Atlanta once we hit the 24 hour mark.

Now some folks recommend software like Expert Flyer to check for available seats but it will not tell you how many are open for 1st class upgrades. To my knowledge only Delta computers will do that. For me the most simple tool is doing a dummy booking either on or on the Fly Delta App to see how many 1st class seats are open for whatever segments (hint: also thinking what routes are less desirable than others helps your chances as well).

A decent cold chicken salad lunch

So in my case I searched and found a route that would yield similar MQMs (even a few more in fact) and the shot at an upgrade looked much better than what I was on. The Delta rep was able to switch me free and I did give up one of my confirmed upgrades for a shot at both legs. Did the gamble pay off? Notice at the top of this post there were more first class seats at check-in than those requesting upgrades! It was looking great and I cleared at the gate for flight one. What about the next one?

3 seats vs 1 in 1st? This works!

Ah, even the best laid plans can go wrong-ish. There was weather. Weather is a killer when it comes to upgrade because reps will toss just about everything out the window when it comes to the rules and all the (many) empty 1st class seats went “pouf” and were gone. However, I chose an exit row (as I often do) and ended up with 3 seats to myself (more space than 1st class and much more leg room).

A way to burn my HOOUs

Sure by not choosing C+ I had to burn a few HOOUs on the 4+ hour ride but that is what they are in my account for after all.

Bottom line to take away from this little rookie narrative? If you do not clear before the 24 hour mark, and after check-in it does not look good to clear at the gate, consider SDC to other flights that will get you into the pointy end of the jet. Heck, depending on your goals, it may even net you a few more elite MQMs for your efforts and for those still chasing status with Delta that too can be a good thing! – Rene



  1. I am a DM, but lately I have been buying first class tickets because I do not want to be stuck in back. I like knowing months in advance that I will have a great experience. Also, first class pricing seems to keep getting less expensive.

    Typically, I purchase the cheapest first class ticket with times that work for me, and then SDC to my preferred flight the day before. This works almost 100% of the time.

    I imagine others do the same thing. It’s probably worth keeping an eye on the less expensive flights to see if there is an SDC migration by first class ticket holders starting the day before.

  2. @rene. Can I make a SDC on the app or Or do I need to call? I’m DM if that makes any difference. Thanks!

  3. Hmmm…I attempted an SDC last month on a 12:30am redeye from PHX to ATL. Called the DM line and asked to switch to the next earlier flight, which I believe was at 8pm. However, since my original flight was technically the next calendar day, it didn’t allow for SDC…even though it was only 5 hours different. It’s worth noting that my connecting flight out of ATL would have been at 9am the next morning either way. I had simply planned to spend the night in a hotel at ATL instead of in the air. Perhaps this was the issue.

    Did I accept a bad answer? Should I have tried again?

  4. This is a great idea, but difficult for those of us who fly full flights. Was lucky to have a meeting end early allowing me to catch an earlier flight into DTW. Unfortunately, the connecting flight was paying people to give up their seats and I spent 9 hours waiting in the airport for my original flight. Sure would not like to be stuck in an airport without a club!

  5. René,
    While Delta does not allow SDC on international flights do they allow SDC on the domestic portion of an international flight? I have one with 2 segments domestically. I am DM & spouse is GM if that matters.

  6. @Rene – just so you know, I just just called DM line on this very issue (May 2019). Turns out one cannot SDC on the “domestic portion” of an INTL itinerary until ALL international legs have been flown. Kind of sucks, but it is what it is. Frankly I was surprised. My first leg is even paid FC and no dice (wanted to route through ATL for a meeting).


    MSP-BOS-LHR – you can’t SDC the MSP-BOS leg.
    MSP-BOS-LHR-ATL-MSP – you CAN SDC the ATL-MSP leg.


  7. Well here is what happened on my SDC request on an INTL itinerary with domestic legs. Called DM line on day of departure & was able change the MEM-ATL leg. (Short flight but wanted a much better departure time.)Next leg: ATL-BCN.
    Called DM line from BCN & got the same answer as FLN: no SDC until BCN-DTW leg completed, but was able to get on standby for better flights. DM rep put requested itinerary in record & it worked! Gate agent at next requested domestic leg had information on request & reissued new boarding passes for flight. Got home 3hours earlier than original itinerary.

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