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 Delta.com) 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 Delta.com”
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
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