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“No Status” Upgrades for Delta Reserve Cardholders?

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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.


A benefit Delta and American Express added to the personal and business Delta Reserve cards is the ability for cardholders without Medallion status to receive unlimited complimentary upgrades.

Pretty great if have (or will soon apply for) a Reserve card but don’t hold any status — right?

The Delta Reserve Card from American ExpressDelta Reserve Credit Card from American Express

Delta Reserve Business Card from American Express. Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

Should Delta Reserve Cardholders with No Medallion Status Expect First Class Upgrades?

No.

Sorry. I wanted you to hear this from a friend.

But no.

Yes, you read that right. A blogger benefiting from credit card affiliate commissions actually says a card’s benefit isn’t worth the extra cost if that’s the sole reason you’re applying.

That’s not to say upgrades aren’t possible or won’t ever happen. But please don’t have your heart set on free upgrades to Delta One lie-flats from LAX to JFK. Heck, if you’re a Diamond using RU certs, upgrades can be tough on that route.

A Delta Reserve for Business American Express credit card is seen next to a glass of Woodford Reserve bourbon on a Delta Connection flight operated by SkyWest Airlines.

Even “regular” first class on most other routes will likely be difficult.

As an example, here’s the first class upgrade list for my DTW to SLC flight earlier this week:

 

Do you likes your chances?
Like your chances?

Granted, that’s hub to hub and a fairly extreme example.

Keep in mind this list is only Medallion members, Diamond on down to Silver. These queues will be even longer when Reserve cardholders without status are included — and those folks will be at the bottom of the list.

This is somewhat similar to Delta and SPG’s Crossover perks that allowed Starwood Preferred Guest (RIP) Platinum members to be put on Delta upgrade lists.

This all assumes, of course, there are no shenanigans: computer-induced or gate agent-initiated.

So Why Did Delta and Amex Add This Perk?

My guess? Three reasons:

  1. It’ll entice some people to apply for the Delta Reserve cards
  2. Some people will perpetually hold on to them, hoping against hope they’ll receive tons of upgrades
  3. Some people will receive the odd upgrade here and there. And upgrades are like potato chips (or your other favorite vice): one is never enough. Once you get a taste, you need more. And the best way to receive complimentary upgrades is by being a Medallion member. To be a Medallion you need to spend a bunch of time and money flying Delta and/or spending money on their co-branded Amexes. (An alternative, of course, is taking MQD runs on partner airlines.)

Don’t Forget #TeamBoardLast!

Status or not, even if you have or apply for a  personal or business Delta Reserve card, remember #TeamBoardLast can occasionally still score upgrades.

I sat in first class last week on a flight from ATL to DTW. The upgrade list was over 40 deep. Guess who was in 1A?

The flight attendant’s iPhone, which needed to be charged.

No gate agent came on board to upgrade the next person on the list. (Before you comment, I’ll point out it’s possible the seat was out of order and deemed unfit for passenger travel.)

What Do You Think?

Will Reserve cardholders without status see a bunch of upgrades? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!
–Chris

Other Delta Amex Topics We’ve Covered This Month

Now is a fantastic opportunity to apply for Delta Amexes because many have great welcome bonuses — and you can lock in a year at their current annual fees.

We’ve covered several related topics during the past several weeks including:

Big Welcome Bonuses Expire WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30!

The Delta Reserve Card from American ExpressDelta Reserve Card 

Delta Reserve Business Card from American Express.Delta Reserve Business Card 

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express.Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express

Delta Gold American Express CardDelta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card 

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.

8 Comments

  1. Brian Fisher

    I agree that upgrades will be few and far between for non-status Reserve cardholders. I can think of a few segments, probably all on regional flights, which actually had first class seats fly empty. CHS-JFK and SEA-PDX and the reverse come to mind. These are the only types of flights where I would think upgrades would be achievable with this particular benefit.

    With that said, my question is, if you pay the fee as a Reserve cardholder to upgrade an authorized user from Platinum to Reserve card, does the AU get that same benefit? And if so, does the value proposition get a little better?

  2. @chis,

    Pretty sure all the galleys have outlets these days. Broken seat or not, she could have charged her phone in the galley.

    Gregg

  3. @Gregg G: We were on an MD-90. I overheard the FA say there wasn’t anywhere he could charge his phone in the galley.

    Again, that’s what he said. Whether or not there is a functioning outlet in the MD-90s, I’m not 100% sure.

  4. Keyser Soze

    Parts of this touched on something I’m pondering, and hope Chris, Rene, or someone else will weigh in. On Dec 21 I’m going JFK-LAX. Been pricing one way, Delta One and last week it was about $1800 for the morning flights, which is the flight times I need. I’ve never flown Delta Comfort, but priced it, about $750. I’m Platinum, and Delta Reserve cardholder, but the kicker is I want to be on Delta for this flight vs any other airline is that I’ll become a Million Miler on it. So, with that extra perk coming on that flight, the other factors, do the odds change if I buy a Delta Comfort Upgrade Eligible flight to get upgraded to Delta One?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. @Keyser – The fact that it is your MM flight will have zero impact on the upgrade. All the other factors will i.e. fare class, your medallion status etc etc. However, the moring of your fight, be sure to DM Delta on Twitter to let them know it is your MM flight as you never know what they may or may not do for you.

    Oh and CONGRATS and welcome to the MM club! Take lots of photos and let us know how the flight is!

  6. Keyser Soze

    Thanks Rene. Looks like I’ll just have to suck it up for the price if I want to be in Delta One, as I’ve read here and elsewhere upgrades are rare on that route, and I’m only Platinum. Thanks again.

  7. @Keyser Soze: If you have any RU certs, you may want to consider applying them for this special run (congrats, BTW!). Or if you’re in Sky Bonus and have enough points, they, too might have availability for upgrades. (But call ahead and verify availability first before triggering a cert.)

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