SOLVED: Why sometimes the Regional / Global cert Delta Medallion show “shadow” flight and sometimes not. Also, does it really make any difference? Let’s find out!

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Let me start off with some basics. If you are a Platinum or a Diamond Medallion you can get upgrade certs (RU or GU) that, if space is open, instantly puts you in Premium Select (don’t do this), 1st class or Delta One (a much better choice). These certs are to most elites the single most valuable perk of attaining these top status levels and can be selected as a “Choice Benefit” each year (see text of full rules for RUs here). But they are not perfect (in fact far from it).

One of the big problems with these certs is open space or I should say the lack of almost any open space to use them. There are few times you can clear at booking the flights you want. Also, while they do work with many partners (RU certs even work with AeroMexico now fyi) with some partners it requires a very high and costly fare class to use them (think YBM like for Korean Air). Combo the two of these and you have valuable certs that some years go unspent. Very frustrating but it does not end here.

The next mega issue is that Delta, either IT or management (or both), does not allow end users to go online and see for themselves if there is RU or GU space open for them to use. They can not even use the certs (that they can see in their “My Wallet” / Credits and Certificates on online. No, they must call and ask Delta phone reps if there is space open. Some outstanding reps will “Strive for Five” and search many flights to where they want to go and try their best to put you on these flights even if they are not the ideal routes. Delta, thanks to married segment logic, has made this tool of good reps very hard to use since the computers will fight the reps.

When you can not clear you must be wait listed for a RU or GU upgrade. Once the reps have done this  I have posted many times how to check to see if your upgrade has, in fact, cleared and how you can check to see if it has. But sometimes you can not see the “shadow” or clone of the seat map you are hoping for. Why is that? Reps never seem to know if you ask. This has always frustrated me and no one could give me the answer why. But now we know.

When talking to a rep the other day I asked her, as I often do, if the RU cert was properly applied to the reservation because I could not see the second shadow seat map. She said that the certs were properly applied. But then she said something very interesting:

“Let me move the Regional Upgrade up above the Medallion Upgrade and then try refreshing your page on”

Wait. What? In other words if you are NOT seeing the shadow seat map that is what is wrong with the reservation. But does this impact your chance for an upgrade? The rep then next said:

“We had a problem with this but it was fixed about a year back”

Oh my. So all those times you called and asked if the certs were applied correctly – maybe they were not. That is why sometimes, in times past, when they removed them and you did a HUCB and had another rep apply again that your upgrade cleared instantly. But the rep said this issue was fixed so it should not matter now – I am not so sure. And there is something else interesting.

My wife and I have a trip coming up and have linked the two reservations and both our return RU certs cleared (hers instantly and mine a few days later) but not our outbound. We both were receiving upgrade offers from Delta but once the rep move the RU request up above the medallion upgrade on the page that offer went to N/A as you see above.

So now we know why we do or do not see the shadow map. We also now know what to call and ask for if we do not see it and want to be able to see that map. But the real question is does it matter. The rep said no but maybe it still does and I will be testing it as the rep only did this move to my wife’s reservation and not to mine. If she clears before me, while not irrefutable proof, it is a strong data point that we want to always make sure our RU or GU cert upgrade request is “above” any medallion upgrade request.

I will be sure to follow up on the post with an update if and when the upgrades clear! – René



  1. Just to be sure I get this right

    1) “Upgrade Waitlisted” under the leg I apply my cert too, but there is no duplicate of that segment -> Cert applied incorrectly?

    2) The leg I apply my cert too remains unchanged, but there is a duplicate of the segment with “Upgrade Waitlisted” in that duplicate, and there is an extra screen I can select for seat selection -> Cert applied correctly?

  2. @duf – We are taking the reps word for it that the cert is correctly applied but as in screen shot you should see “Upgrade Waitlisted”. But as the post brings out we shall see if having the cert upgrade request placed above (and creating the duplicate seatmap) matters or not. Again, rep said it does not matter anymore but maybe it does!

  3. Semi Related to GUC… is it possible to use three GUC to fly US to Europe on Delta One… One from 2017, 2 from 2018, all flying on the same itinerary , date, and time.

  4. Mystery solved. Great post. Thanks René. The next time the shadow seat map does not appear I will know exactly what to do.
    We know much yet there is still much to learn.

  5. Good work, Rene! This answers a lot of questions for me. We have applied RU’s in the past and have not cleared. I called to make sure the RU was applied correctly and told yes – two different times, and still did not clear. At the gate, others cleared, and I asked the agent how it was that that with RU’s we did not clear. He said, he could not see the RU’s. Sucks.

  6. I have not chosen my choice benefit fir this year yet, I am Plat and always just take the 20k miles. If I order out the upgrades, do I get a year from when I bake my choice?

  7. @Dennis – Yes 1 year to use from the day of choice! So no rush until you need them or by 31JAN each year.

  8. René great post. I’m waitlisted with GU and going to call because I don’t see a shadow map. No use taking a chance with Delta.
    I am curious as to why you and your better half are not on the same PNR mentioned in your blog.

  9. Rene, I’m not seeing a shadow map AND I have the “NA” showing for upgrade. I thought they were mutually exclusive as written above. i.e. if I have NA, I should have the shadow map, correct?
    RU/GU certs are the biggest love/hate relationship with delta status. Always drama. And always wondering if they’ve been applied appropriately. My AA exec plat friends never seem to have such trouble with their certs.
    Long flight and very worried about clearing (UIO). Do you know if the rep can tell me the upgrade cost even though my map says NA?

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