Rookie Wednesday: What is an “Up Fare or Y-Up”? What Points do Skyteam Partner Y-Up fares earn when you Credit them to Delta? What if I am missing Delta SkyMiles or MQMs or MQDs?

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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 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.

You are all ducks – right?

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck – it’s a chicken? When it comes to airlines and their VERY complex rules this can be the case. This post is likely going to make your head spin so hang on tight and please try to stay with me.

From IR page

Frequent flyer points matter. They matter to Delta because it is a HUGE source of income to the company (disclaimer: I never ever buy or sell $DAL stock). They matter to us flyers in two ways – SkyMiles we earn and burn for tickets and Medallion points that impact our elite status. Depending on who you are one may matter much more than the other.

Sweet earnings. But what is the fare code?
Ah. Coach fare code becomes biz!

Keeping these basic points in mind, let’s look at an example as a baseline and to understand what can sometimes be a problem when you credit Skyteam flights to Delta. The above is an amazing price for an elite mileage run from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico that I posted in December. On, when you are logged in, it displays the points you will earn for the flights and the fare class. Fare class matters because higher fare class tickets earn you more elite points regardless of the price paid (elite points, or MQMs, are earned on distance and fare class – SkyMiles are based on net ticket price and your elite status)! The next screen shot from shows the underlying coach fare code. Why does that matter?

Few know. Half are wrong on earnings!

I did a quick, and limited, @RenesPoints Twitter poll asking the above two questions. I asked if follower knew what an “UP Fare” is and what kinds of points an UP Fare yields when you buy and fly one. An up fare, sometimes called a Y-Up, is a coach fare that the airline has “UPed” if you will to business class. As you can also see from the slides above from such an UP Fare displays as a business class fare and yields bonus elite points for business class fare – even though the fare code is based on an underlying coach fare – the result of the ticket is that it does become a business class ticket and rewards you accordingly (this is an important part to understand).


But when it comes to Delta partners, things can be a bit different (see this post for help if confused). Let’s look at AeroMexico that is a founding member of Skyteam and Delta Air Lines owns 49% of the company. The way they reward you for flying this airline, when you credit the points to Delta, is based on the published chart above based on fare class and distance flown. The results can be great for flyers. Take a look at what CNN producer Jeff Simon published last month.

“My flights to Quito were booked on AeroMexico, a Skyteam partner of Delta. When I booked my flights, instead of creating an AeroMexico frequent flier account, or leaving that field blank on the booking page, I used my Delta frequent flier number. Because Delta never finds out how much money I paid to AeroMexico for my tickets, how are they supposed to calculate the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) to deduct from the $3,100 I need for Diamond status?

Delta, and most airlines, does what they can with the information they have. So Delta knows that I flew from New York to Mexico City to Quito and back. They know that is 8,058 miles. So, based on the type of ticket I booked, they award me a percentage of the miles flown as MQDs. In this case — 40%. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s $3,223 qualifying dollars for a ticket that cost me $834.”

But as I mentioned, this does not always work as smoothly as it should. I blogged about this amazing run back in November and take a look at the flight found on Google Flights below.

The Google Flights results
itaMatrix fare breakdown

Also, when you look at itaMatrix (also owned by Google) it shows the breakdown bits for this “I” fare business class ticket. But take note of the “fare construction (can be useful to travel agents)” it lists the code for a coach fare that has been Y-UPed to the “I” class fare.

This shows “I” biz fare

When you look at these flights on Expedia they also show the breakdown for these “I” fare class ticket.

Clase Premier Business Class AeroMexico
Yes I booked a bis class “Up Fare”

In my confirmation from AeroMexico you can clearly see that I am booked in “Class Premier” that is business class and even in the notes AeroMexico confirms this ticket is a paid “I” fare business class ticket. You can also see it is a “business sell-up” but know this does make it a “real” business class fare – at least when it comes to earning frequent flyer points. So what kinds of rewards points did this yield for my flights last week? Take a look at my recently posted results:

Mega points – YES!

In my case, as with the CNN producer above, all worked just as published on (I will have detailed posts on this run up soon btw). Now I did take these steps to make sure all was good to go from my end and to have paper proof if I needed it after the flights if the miles did not post as promised.

HELP! I did not get promised points!

But what if Delta, no matter how many times you ask them and can provide proof of the flight and fare class refuses to credit you as published and promised? The only fix I can guarantee you will work is to go to the Skyteam partner and have them either A) liaison with the SkyMiles desk to confirm your fare class you both paid and flew or B) to have them issue a new receipt with the paid and flown fare class you can present to Delta for proper credit.

Bottom line is simply this: “Up Fares” are a sweet discounted way to earn a ton of points either flying Delta or their partners. Need help finding some amazing elite mileage runs like the ones above? You can follow this tab here on RenésPoints as I, now and then, post deals when I find them. Otherwise, if you want a custom run from your hometown airport, you can always reach out to my friend Adam and his team to build you one for the points you need! – 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. As for MQDs earnings, Delta’s “See How Much You’ll Earn” tables are a hot mess. The Aeromexico table shows “Class of Service” and “Purchased Fare Class”. The China Eastern table simply shows “Purchase Accrual Class”.
    Purchase “I” Class of Service on Aeromexico and you may be blindsided when you end up with only half the MQDs you expected because you thought you had an I Fare Class ticket but you purchased a Q Up Fare. Fall into that trap and you could end up receiving MQDs based on 20% of the miles flown not the 40% you expected. That just crazy because the Aeromexico table does not indicate it’s even possible to purchase I “Class of Service” in the Q Fare Class (“Economy Class of Service”).
    Compare that to the China Eastern table where you CAN purchase a Business Q “Purchased Accrual Class” ticket. In doing so you’ll receive MQDs based on 40% of the miles flown. No trap whatsoever.
    I am the only one whose head is still spinning?

  2. How do you get your fares Y-Uped? Does it need to start on a full fare coach ticket (Y)?

  3. I too, am wonder how I could buy a Y-UP ticket. I travel annually to Thailand to visit my family and an upgrade of the seating would be nice.

  4. In order to get the increased $MQD$ when flying with a skypartner ie Aeromexico., do you book your flight directly with the sky partner airline or through Delta? Thanks for all your help your blog has help me tremendously!

    • @jsm – If you book on Delta you earn on Delta charts. Book on partner site (even if on Delta metal) you earn on partner charts.

  5. YUP is a fare. like a high coach fare that automatically upgrades you to the business class..The airline will yield certain amount of spaces on each flight and you must capture the inventory which it could be a class D, I, C as an example. This fare only problem is that if for some reason the airline has to change equipment and it results in less capacity in business they can be downgraded to coach, full fare paying passenger will have priority. It does not happen frequently but it happens and it is a chance that you must be willing to take..

    • @wv – Very rare they will not keep you in biz. If that rare events happens you can request another flight with space open in biz.

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