Complimentary first class upgrades are a major reason people pursue airline elite status. Delta knows this — and gives members of its co-branded American Express cards improved chances of sitting up front.
As René wrote yesterday, 20×2020 is in full effect. So if first class upgrades are important to you, here’s how Delta Amexes play such a vital role scooting you up the upgrade list.
Delta First Class Upgrade Hierarchy
- Medallion Status (descending from highest to lowest, i.e. Diamond to Silver)
- Fare Class Groupings: higher-priced fares are ranked above lower-priced fares
- Delta Reserve Credit Card Members.
- Delta Corporate Travelers
- Card Members who earned the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) Waiver in the current calendar year
- Date and time of upgrade request
We’ll focus today on the two items bolded above.
Delta Reserve Credit Card Members
(Remember that limited-time offers expire tomorrow for six Delta Amexes, including both Reserve cards.)
Let’s say you’re a Platinum Medallion traveling on a “K” fare and also have a Delta Reserve Credit Card. You’ll be a notch higher on the upgrade list over a fellow Platinum flying a “K” fare — but who doesn’t have a Reserve card.
My upgrades increased when I added the Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card to my wallet years ago. Several other people told me they, too, enjoyed more upgrades upon becoming Reserve cardholders.
Even if you don’t use a Delta Reserve card for a single purchase, just holding it far increases your first class odds.
In terms of the annual fees: yes, they’re expensive. $450 right now, and raising to $550 on January 30, 2020. But those costs are easy to swallow after even just a few upgrades — especially when you travel with a companion who also “tags along” on your status and enjoys the upgrades, too!
Meeting the MQD Waiver
The fifth tie-breaker in the Great First Class Upgrade Hierarchy goes to Delta Amex cardholders who’ve spent at least $25,000 in a calendar year on one or cumulatively across all their eligible Delta Amexes.
So if you’re a Gold Medallion flying on an “M” fare (and there actually are first class seats remaining for upgrades), holding a Delta Reserve card, the Delta corporate deal travelers have been taken care of, and knocked your $25K — you’ll get an upgrade before another Reserve-holding Gold traveling on “M” who hasn’t met their MQD waiver.
Beginning January 30, 2020, SkyMiles members must hold at least one of the below credit cards to be eligible for MQD waivers:
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express
Spend on the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express alone will not qualify toward the $25,000 MQD waiver — unless you also hold a Reserve or Delta Platinum Amex. It’s the same principle currently in effect for the Delta Blue Amex.
We’ve detailed a number of ways people can reach spend requirements. And given that the Delta Platinum Amexes are adding bonus categories next year, spending $25,000 on those cards will be somewhat more palatable than now.
Is One More Important Than the Other?
Not everyone has a Delta Reserve card — so you can get a leg up (front) on them.
If you don’t have a Reserve card — and won’t get one — the $25,000 MQD waiver is still important. The sooner you get it knocked out, the sooner you’ll better your chances of sitting in first class.
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 in the past several weeks including:
- My Thoughts on the New Delta American Express Benefits, Fees, and More!
- 10 Things to Know About Bonus MQM on the Updated Delta Amex Cards
- What You Need to Know About the Delta Amex MQD Waiver
- Delta Main Cabin 1 Boarding: How Valuable is This Delta Amex Perk?
- Sky Club Access for Delta American Express Cards: Which Cards are Now Eligible?
- Saving Money with the Delta Amex Free First Checked Bag Benefit
- “No Status” Upgrades for Delta Reserve Cardholders?
- Is Centurion Lounge Access with a Delta Reserve Card Really That Great?
- Saving 20% on Delta Purchases Made Onboard During Flights with Delta American Express Cards
- A Mileage Run Without Getting On a Plane? Yes!
Big Welcome Bonuses Expire THIS WEDNESDAY!
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