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Would You Buy Global Upgrade Certificates if Delta Sold Them?

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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.


If you’ve ever been a Delta Diamond Medallion (or benefited from knowing one), you know the importance of Global Upgrade certificates. Space-permitting, you can upgrade from most coach fares (or Premium Select) into Delta One. (They also work with select fares on some partner airlines.)

They’re a really sweet perk.

Randee and Chris Carley seated in Delta One from LAX to Tokyo HND on an Airbus 330.
Global Upgrade certificates got us from $575 Main Cabin seats to Delta One — roundtrip from LAX to Tokyo!

But Diamonds get only four of Global Upgrade certs (GUCs) each year. Other Medallions don’t get them at all. What if Diamonds wanted more GUCs? What if Medallions — or even other Delta customers — wanted to get in on the fun?

Why Would Delta Sell Global Upgrade Certificates?

Let’s get this out of the way: there is absolutely no information we’ve received that such a thing would happen. This isn’t based on any information we received. This is purely off the tops of our heads.

Bottom line: this is just a fun, wouldn’t it be interesting if…? post we thought people may enjoy. 

Airlines need cash flow el pronto. Delta is certainly no exception. I’m positive there are some people who’d pony up, say, $1500-$2000 for a Global Upgrade certificate.

A Delta One Suite seat is feature in a review post of a Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit (DTW) to Amsterdam (AMS).

Delta does not upgrade Medallions to Delta One on transoceanic flights the same way it does for US domestic and North American region hops. Any unsold Delta One seats either go empty for a flight or are given to people flying on non-revenue tickets.

However, Delta could make $1500 or $2000 or whatever filling that seat with someone who bought a GUC. I’m no economist, but making $1500 for a Delta One seat sold to someone who bought a GUC seems better than letting it go unused or given away for free.

But that’s just me. I’m a blogger, not a C-suite executive for an airline.

What Limits Would Be Imposed?

Delta rightfully wouldn’t want to sell too many GUCs. I’d guess they’d limit sales to two or maybe four per person per year. And no more than two GUC could be used on a PNR. It’d be nice if more Delta One inventory were opened up for people who purchase GUC, though. Many of us know the frustrating exercise of seeing a wide-open Delta One cabin and being told “Sorry! There’s no upgrade inventory.”

Expiration dates would have to either be non-existent or very generous (i.e. five or ten years).

Would You Buy Global Upgrade Certificates?

Are GUC something you’d buy? What would be a fair price — and why? Please tell us your thoughts in the below Comments section!

— Chris

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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.


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.

12 Comments

  1. PERISH THE THOUGHT! I have a hard enough time using the ones I earned as a “reward” without lots of machinations and schedule manipulations. This will just further dilute this Diamond benefit.

  2. Brian Fisher Reply

    I thought that Diamonds could get 4 GUCs per year? They can get a pair of GUCs AND 4 RUCs if they want, or forego the GUCs altogether and get 8 RUCs. All of course depending on the Choice Benefit selected.

    That being said, I would hate to see Delta further dilute their value by selling them as the poster above mentioned. It might be a way to get some cash in the short term, but probably not good for their relationship with their most loyal flyers in the long term.

    • @Edward – Did you notice that United tapped 5 BILLION from it’s frequent flyer program today? The airlines need CASH bad! My guess is we are going to see a great many things we do not like to keep them up in the air.

  3. The GUC’s are already very difficult to use unless you really plan 11.5 months our when the flights get listed, even then many don’t have availability. Takes a bit of effort checking back all the time on options, so no thanks on buying. Plus as Brian said it dilutes the value further.
    DL has been offering early buyouts for FA’s and other options to furlough the team. Agreed Rene, the belt will keep tightening and we will see benefits quietly fade away or blatantly be cancelled.

  4. Quick correction – Non-revenue ticket holders flying on buddy passes used to be upgraded on international flights. Delta discontinued this years ago.

  5. Nope. I wouldn’t buy a GUC. When a vaccine becomes available I look forward to another overnight international flight with my friends who are experts at finding cheap flights. BRU here we come. We’ll be in FC. No GUC necessary.

  6. They are already very tough. To use as lots of fare rules etc.. if u paid all of that$$ then no go UGLY

  7. Barry Graham Reply

    I can’t see the point in doing this when they already have ways to give upgrades at prices even less than the price tag you mentioned. I have been offered the opportunity to upgrade, months in advance, on transatlantic flights. To sell GUCs would just be introducing a middle man. I like the idea of making these upgrades available via cash or mile redemption instead.

  8. It would be a great way to generate cash and an easy way for passengers to throw away their hard earned money. These GUCs are useless. I have never gotten my upgrades on popular routes on my travel dates. To add insult to injury, when they clear, it’s often at the gate right before boarding. That will mean no advance meal selection, nor advance seat assignment (think seats adjacent to lavatory or galley or separated from your companion), and no way to plan for additional checked luggage.

    When my GUC waitlists clear, it’s often on B763/B764 planes and not the newer A332/A333/B772/A350 planes. I had to settle for Premium Select at the gate crossing the Pacific. What a waste… but it was soon going to expire.

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