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My Best Delta Regional Upgrade Certificate Redemption EVER – off to Hawaii in Delta One!

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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.


OK Delta I will try!

Back in November of 2017 Delta made a massive change to the Regional Upgrade Certificate route availability. Before this time, to fly to Hawaii on the long direct flights east of Salt Lake, you had to use a Global Upgrade Certificate to ride the 9-11 hours to Hawaii in Delta One.

Yes, I know I must call you!

Then in late September of last year Delta announced a new service from Detroit to Honolulu direct service and the jet to be used, the A330-300, has one of my favorite Delta One seats (yes, even better than Delta One Suites IMO).

GULP! That is a lot.

I really really really (did I mention really) hate the domestic 1st class Delta seats to and from Hawaii from the west coast. 5-6 hours in those seats is no real joy. Plus, the best way to get to Hawaii is just one long flight. For me then the perfect flight is a less than half an hour flight from South Bend to Detroit (plus less time on a CRJ200 is always a good thing – even in fake C+) and then the Delta One flight to the islands. Finally, ending with a short Hawaiian Air hop from Honolulu to the Big Island. Just perfect! Well, other than the massive premium price Delta charges to buy that route in Delta One business class.

GULP – 2X! Now this is SkyPennies!

The other way to buy this preferred route is via SkyMiles. But as you can see the price is a wee-bit on the bat crazy mind numbing out of control mega amount of SkyPennies. Plus, I would still have to buy a round trip ticket on Hawaiian Air between Honolulu and the Big Island as you can forget about finding space on Hawaiian with SkyMiles. So this option is out of the question.

Not too bad in coach from SBN

Coach prices for flights this winter to Hawaii from South Bend are almost respectable. Sure cheaper if I am willing to connect on the west coast instead of via the direct DTW-HNL option. Business class with the west coast connection are running around $2,000 but not worth it for that seat and experience. So enter Regional Upgrade option as my Platinum Choice benefit (Diamonds get BOTH the Platinum and Diamond Choice Benefits fyi).

For those who are not aware of how these certificates work, you can not search online for open space. You have to call the Medallion line and have the reps search for you. Surprisingly a HUGE amount of space on any number of days this winter is just about wide open on the DTW-HNL-DTW flights (hint-hint time to call Delta?)!

I managed to get tickets, all in, for both my wife and I for under $2,200 plus 4 RU certs applied for a total savings of well over $3,000 vs buying the tickets in business class. WoW! Talk about value from my elite status.

On top of that, since my wife and I are both Diamonds, we will each earn 10,950 MQMs and 10,802 SkyMiles worth at least $216. Oh and clearly I paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points giving me another $98 value back! So my net cost is now under $1,900 all-in.

The only bad part about all of this is unless I can find a way to go all carry-on I will have to pay a Hawaiian Air bag fee on the return as since the divorce from Delta back in 2013 they offer zero perks for me as a Delta elite (even though the ticket is a Delta code-share and they are a Delta partner).

Your turn now. What is the best value you have ever extracted from a Regional or even a Global upgrade certificate! – 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.

10 Comments

  1. My GUC cleared 60 days out for D1 on LAS-SEA-NRT-SIN. Not too shabby for a mileage run where I used miles to drop the price down a bit too. I think I paid $400 or so for the round trip. Only D1 on the outbound leg though.

  2. 1-stop routing on American or even the 2-stop routing on United.

    It looks like an 18-hour one way that Delta can manage in 15+ and UA/AA can do in 13 1/2.

    I don’t value flying Delta that much. And I’m Diamond.

  3. Just called to check DTW-HNL-DTW starting mid-January through end of schedule (early March) – absolutely nothing. Perhaps the kind Delta folks who follow your blog have “fixed things”.

    • rene Reply

      @Simon – Pays to read blog and call FAST (and yes they read the blog – a lot).

  4. @rene Is there an approximate lead time for when they normally start releasing certificate upgrade space for the non-West-coast Hawaii routes (e.g. ATL, DTW, MSP, SLC, etc?)

    I wish they’d put the OP/RP space back on Expert Flyer…

  5. Hi Rene,

    This post inspired my family to plan a trip to Hawaii next summer. We are planning to go at the end of May when our daughter gets out of school. I live in Orlando and chose flights with a connection in ATL so we can have the max amount of time in the air enjoying Delta One. The problem that I am having is that there is no RU inventory available. The Delta reps seem to be suggesting that it is too early. So, why question for you is, should I buy my coach tickets now, get my instant upgrade to C+ and use my RUCs to waitlist for D1, or should I just keep checking back for availability?

    Bob

    • @Bob – Hard call. I would try to be flexable on days and call and call often on all the direct flights. Consider MSP-HNL as well as ATL-HNL (i.e. fly ATL-MSP-HNL). This is a hard upgrade to score even with RU certs.

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