The ultimate guide to getting upgraded on Delta


Editor’s be aware: This publish has been up to date with the most recent data.

Delta Medallion elite status has loads of perks, together with same-day confirmed adjustments, worldwide lounge entry and Choice Benefits. Nonetheless, one perk sits above all others with regards to chasing standing: the attract of a free seat improve.

There’s nothing fairly as magical as paying for one class of service and being upgraded right into a superior cabin, be it premium financial system, enterprise or first.

A ten-hour flight is much more snoozable in top quality – see what number of factors away you might be from a comfy, 30,000-foot slumber with the free TPG App!

The improve course of, nevertheless, stays shrouded in thriller. For instance, who’s eligible for upgrades? When do these upgrades course of? And which flights will be upgraded?

We’re right here to demystify upgrades. From complimentary elite upgrades, SkyMiles upgrades and Global and Regional upgrade certificates to understanding improve precedence, it’s all right here, so buckle up and let’s discover ways to get to the entrance of the Delta airplane.

Complimentary upgrades

Delta Premium Choose seats. (Picture by Zach Griff/The Factors Man)

Delta makes all tiers of Medallion members eligible for limitless complimentary upgrades to first-class and Delta Consolation+ seating on a big selection of routes. Since April 1, 2018, all Delta Medallion elite members have been eligible for day-of-departure limitless complimentary upgrades to the Delta One expertise on flights throughout the U.S., together with flights to Hawaii.

Whereas it pays to know the intricacies under, it’s price mentioning that Delta is systematically selling evermore first-class tickets. Its income maximization fashions are pricing first-class tickets in a approach that encourages extra folks to purchase them outright, and according to quarterly earnings reports over time, it continues to promote extra of its ahead cabin somewhat than give it away by way of an improve. You may discover this while you view a Delta reservation and are provided a buy-up improve.

Sadly, the extra first-class tickets Delta sells, the less can be found for complimentary upgrades.

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Beneath are the Delta merchandise which are eligible for complimentary upgrades, together with paid tickets, SkyMiles award tickets, Pay with Miles tickets and SkyMiles Companion Certificates:

  • Delta Consolation+ (all Delta-operated flights).
  • Firstclass (all Delta-operated home flights and choose short-haul worldwide flights).
  • Delta One (all Delta-operated home flights, together with Hawaii and Alaska).

In fact, Delta’s top-tier Medallions (Diamond) get desire over lower-tier Medallions, and timing is all the pieces. Diamond and Platinum Medallion members can clear from Fundamental Cabin into Consolation+ instantly upon reserving if area is accessible. On the similar time, Gold members should wait till 72 hours earlier than departure to clear into Consolation+, and Silver members should wait till 24 hours earlier than departure.

For flights with heavy passenger hundreds — for instance, New York to San Francisco — the Consolation+ cabin is commonly full when Gold and Silver Medallions are eligible to clear. Nevertheless, last-minute upgrades on the gate can occur.

Associated: What is Delta elite status worth?

You will get ran into Delta One as long as it’s a home route. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

For Delta One home upgrades, Medallion members will clear on the day of departure following the identical clearance precedence hierarchy as first-class upgrades, topic to improve availability.

Even when your improve doesn’t clear prematurely, you should still clear on the gate. If an improve continues to be not confirmed at your improve window or while you verify in, your pending improve request will mechanically be added to the airport standby listing for a possible improve on the gate earlier than you board. It’s possible you’ll view your spot on the standby listing within the “My Journeys” part of the Delta app and on the gate data show on the airport.

Complimentary improve hierarchy

Right here’s how Delta will determine your spot on the improve listing:

  1. Medallion standing.
  2. Fare class groupings. Greater-priced fares are ranked above lower-priced fares per the next order: B, M, H, Q, Okay, L, U, T, X and V, then SkyMiles award tickets, then Pay with Miles.
  3. Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders.
  4. Delta company vacationers (ticket should embody your employer’s company ticket designator).
  5. Cobranded bank card members who earned the Medallion Qualification {Dollars} waiver within the present calendar yr
  6. Million Miler status.
  7. Date and time of improve request.

It’s additionally price noting that, in 2022, elite members who earned or reearned standing in 2021 receive upgrade priority over elite members who had their status extended. This implies a Diamond Medallion who earned standing could have a greater likelihood of being upgraded than a Diamond with prolonged elite standing.

Additional, all Medallion members with Y-class tickets are eligible for immediate upgrades and can seem forward of all different complimentary improve requests. Sometimes, passengers don’t e book Y tickets except it’s final minute or demand is unusually excessive, such because the final obtainable seat on a weekend flight to the Tremendous Bowl host metropolis.

If two members are equivalent at a given degree, it goes down the above listing till the tie is damaged. As an example, if two Platinum Medallion members are touring on Okay-fare tickets and one has a Delta Reserve bank card, and the opposite doesn’t, the card-holding passenger shall be prioritized.

Diamond and Platinum Medallion members will clear first-class upgrades starting 120 hours (or 5 days) earlier than departure. Gold Medallion members will clear starting 72 hours (three days) earlier than departure and Silver Medallion members will clear starting 24 hours (sooner or later) earlier than departure, topic to improve availability.

It’s additionally price noting that improve certificates (RUCs and GUCs) and upgrades with miles are prioritized forward of those complimentary upgrades; we’ll cowl these wrinkles within the sections under.

An improve to Consolation+ could make all of the distinction on an extended flight. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Exclusions and effective print

Sadly, not all tickets are eligible for complimentary upgrades — right here’s what’s excluded:

  • Basic economy (E) fares are usually not eligible for paid or Medallion complimentary upgrades, no matter Medallion or different elite standing.
  • Delta Premium Select isn’t eligible for a complimentary Medallion improve.
  • Delta One seats on flights that begin or finish exterior of the US don’t qualify for a complimentary Medallion improve.
  • Complimentary upgrades are usually not obtainable for choice by any passenger whereas aboard the plane no matter standing or fare class.
  • For companion upgrades, each passengers have to be ticketed, and upgrades have to be requested no less than three hours earlier than the scheduled departure of the flight.
  • Aside from eligible Pay with Miles tickets and eligible award tickets, complimentary upgrades are usually not eligible on fares that don’t earn miles.
  • Companions who change their itinerary and are now not touring with the higher-tiered Medallion member after the change are usually not eligible for a complimentary improve on the higher-tiered member’s clearance window. If an improve had been confirmed earlier than the itinerary change, a reservation for a companion with out Medallion standing can be modified to mirror the unique class of service for the brand new itinerary, and they’re going to now not be eligible for a complimentary improve. If the companion is a Medallion member, the reservation shall be modified to mirror the unique class of service. It’ll proceed to be eligible for an improve on the companion’s personal clearance precedence. If the Medallion or companion airline elite member is now not touring on their authentic reservation, the companion touring on the unique reservation will now not be eligible for complimentary Delta Consolation+ seating. Their Delta Consolation+ seat task could also be eliminated.

Enhancing your possibilities of an improve

Past racing for the next tier of Delta’s Medallion standing, you’ll be able to higher your possibilities of receiving a complimentary improve by opening a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card. These playing cards additionally internet you complimentary entry to Delta’s international community of Sky Club airport lounges when flying Delta.

If doable, contemplate reserving a company ticket via your employer. Additionally, if you happen to’re a Platinum/Diamond Medallion with free same-day change talents, you’ll be able to sniff round and alter to a much less standard routing in your day of departure. ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s dad or mum firm, Crimson Ventures) is a wonderful instrument for looking out flights. You should utilize the “Flight Availability” performance to get an thought of what number of seats stay open/unsold.

Talking of which, you’ll usually have a greater shot at an improve if you happen to keep away from peak enterprise journey durations. This allows you to compete with fewer frequent flyers. Usually, this implies avoiding flying on Sunday night time, Monday morning and just about all day Friday if you wish to sidestep top-tier enterprise vacationers.

Associated: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Improve certificates

In case you’re trying to find the creme de la creme of Delta upgrades, look no additional.

Delta gives two forms of devoted improve certificates, generally known as Global Upgrade Certificates and Regional Upgrade Certificates. The one technique to get them is to earn Platinum or Diamond Medallion standing and choose them utilizing your Choice Benefits.

Improve certificates have the next precedence than complimentary upgrades and could also be requested and, topic to availability, cleared while you e book your ticket. In different phrases: They’re a hyper-exclusive and very highly effective technique to sit within the entrance of the airplane.

World Improve Certificates, obtainable solely for Diamond Medallion members, provide upgrades on each worldwide and home flights with Delta together with choose flights with KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air and Aeromexico. Regional Improve Certificates, obtainable for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members, provide upgrades on the identical routes as complimentary upgrades, together with all flights with top quality and the home Delta One expertise.

Associated: The ultimate guide to Delta Choice Benefits

As a Selection Profit choice, Diamond Medallion members might select any of the next three choices as certainly one of their chosen advantages:

  1. 4 international upgrades.
  2. Eight regional upgrades.
  3. Two international upgrades and 4 regional upgrades.

Platinum Medallion members might select 4 regional upgrades as their single Selection Profit.

So in order for you one of many coveted World Improve Certificates, you’ll want first to realize Delta’s highest revealed Medallion tier of Diamond.

Associated: Last-minute elite status strategies for Delta Medallion

Necessary notes about World and Regional improve certificates

Hartmann baggage – a present from Delta to those that hit 1 million miles. DARREN MURPH/THE POINTS GUY

In fact, these certificates have a number of quirks and nuances which you want to concentrate on.

For starters, GUCs recently changed for the worse. Beginning Feb. 1, 2022, these certificates solely provide confirmed upgrades for one cabin larger than initially bought. On flights with a Premium Choose cabin, Fundamental Cabin tickets will improve to Premium Choose. Then, the elite member processing the improve shall be positioned on a Delta One improve waitlist 24 hours earlier than departure. The excellent news is that there shall be last-seat improve availability in Premium Choose on worldwide flights. Likewise, there shall be last-seat availability while you use your GUC to improve a home flight, even on Delta One routes.

An RUC or GUC is for one-way journey, so that you’d must burn 4 to take you and a visitor on a round-trip itinerary. You possibly can apply an RUC or GUC to a paid ticket, a SkyMiles award ticket, a Pay with Miles ticket and a companion ticket. Crucially, you can’t apply an RUC or a GUC to a primary financial system (E fare) ticket no matter your Medallion standing degree.

Whereas these certificates are usually not totally transferable to others, Delta will permit you to apply your RUC or GUC to a visitor’s ticket as long as that particular person is touring on the identical flight with you. Even if you happen to’re booked on separate reservations (e.g., your organization books your financial system ticket, and also you e book your partner’s financial system ticket later), you should utilize your improve certificates for each passengers.

At the moment, every GUC or RUC expires one yr from the date it’s issued. Upgrades are legitimate via the tip of the next elite yr. So if you happen to earned certificates on June 10, 2022, they’re good till Jan. 31, 2024.

Additional, Delta prolonged certificates chosen as Selection Advantages between March 1, 2019, and Jan. 31, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2023. Once more, it’s essential to e book and fly your flight by this date.

Every certificates could also be used to improve flights operated by Delta Air Traces or Delta Connection booked within the P, A, G, W, Y, B, M, H, Q, Okay, L, U, T, X or V fare courses, and might also be used to improve on SkyMiles awards, Pay with Miles tickets and companion certificates.

Upgrading companion flights with certificates

You may also use GUCs to improve choose companion flights. Once more, this can change to one-cabin upgrades beginning Feb. 1, 2022, so GUCs utilized to Air France and Virgin Atlantic flights will solely transfer you from financial system to premium financial system, except you e book a premium financial system ticket outright. Notice that every one companion upgrades have to be confirmed 24 hours earlier than departure.

These are the principles for upgrading partner-operated flights, beginning Feb. 1, 2022:

Upgrading KLM flights

  • Delta-marketed, KLM-operated flights: Fundamental Cabin seats booked in Y, B, M, H, Q, Okay, L, U, T, X or V to Z class (enterprise class). It’s because KLM doesn’t provide a premium financial system cabin on most flights.
  • KLM-marketed, KLM-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in Y, B, M, Okay, H, L, Q, T, N, R or V class will be upgraded to Z (enterprise class).
  • Air France-marketed, KLM-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in Y, B, M, Okay, H, L, Q, T, N, R or V class will be upgraded to Z class (enterprise class).
  • For flights departing Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), World Improve Certificates have to be utilized previous to check-in with a KLM ticketing agent or at a KLM Crown Lounge.

Upgrading Air France flights

  • Air France-marketed, Air France-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in Y, B, M, Okay, H, L, Q, T, N, R or V class will be upgraded to A category (premium financial system), or from W, S or A category to Z class (enterprise class).
  • KLM-marketed, Air France-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in Y, B, M, Okay, H, L, Q, T, N, R or V class will be upgraded to A category (premium financial system), or from W, S or A category to Z class (enterprise class).
  • Delta-marketed, Air France-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in Y, B, M, H, Q, Okay, L, U, T, X or V class will be upgraded to A category (premium financial system), or from W, S or A category to Z class (enterprise class), or from P, A or G class to Z class (enterprise class).

Upgrading Virgin Atlantic flights

  • Delta-marketed, Virgin Atlantic-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in W, S, Y, B, M, H, Q, Okay, L, U, T, X or V class will be upgraded to P class (premium financial system), or from P, A or G class to Virgin Atlantic’s G class (enterprise class).

Upgrading Aeromexico flights

  • Delta-marketed, Aeromexico-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in W, S, Y, B, M, H, Q, Okay, L, U, T, X or V class will be upgraded to O class (enterprise class).

Upgrading Korean Air flights

  • Delta-marketed, Korean-operated flights: Economic system seats booked in Y, B or M class will be upgraded to J class (enterprise class).

Associated: The best Virgin Atlantic Upper Class seats

How you can use an improve certificates


Till not too long ago, you needed to name to use a GUC or RUC to a Delta-operated ticket. Now, you solely have to do that for current tickets, as new tickets will be upgraded on-line.

Upgrading a brand new Delta reserving with a certificates

Delta recently rolled out the ability to improve new bookings on-line (however not on the Fly Delta app). You may see the choice to improve your ticket with an RUC or GUC on the checkout web page.

Search for the “Improve Certificates Request” field and choose the flight you’d prefer to improve. Then, choose the kind of improve certificates you would like to make use of.


The improve certificates shall be mechanically utilized while you full your reserving.

Upgrading an current Delta reserving with a certificates

For current bookings, it’s essential to dial the cellphone quantity given together with your related Medallion tier or the overall hotline at 800-323-2323 and make the request. Remember to name no less than three hours earlier than departure to use your certificates, although 24 hours earlier than departure is strongly really helpful.

If you wish to verify an improve instantly, seek for your flight on the Delta web site. Improve availability is proven beneath the flight occasions. Be sure you’re logged in to your Delta account as improve availability solely exhibits on elite accounts.


In case you can keep away from waitlisting, accomplish that. Waitlist upgrades are usually not assured to clear, and on explicit routes — resembling West Coast gateways to Hawaii — they’re identified to not often clear.

On itineraries with connections, ask the Delta agent to put improve precedence on the leg that issues most to you. In case you don’t make clear this, upgrades can clear on comparatively unimportant/quick legs, whilst you stay waitlisted on the lengthy leg. In case you don’t prioritize the hard-to-get leg and the improve clears on every other leg of your itinerary, the improve certificates is taken into account used.

For instance, you don’t need to burn a invaluable World Improve Certificates on a 45-minute home positioning leg when the leg that issues is the long-haul trip from the U.S. to Europe, Asia, Oceania, and many others. Bear in mind, there’s no technique to “undo” an improve clearing. As soon as it’s burned, it’s burned.

Whereas it’s doable for improve requests on the waitlist to be cleared earlier than you get to the gate, it’s extra doubtless that they are going to be cleared on the gate earlier than departure. In case your certificates doesn’t clear, it is going to be mechanically reissued to your account and can be utilized on a future flight.

Associated: How not to ‘waste’ your Delta Regional and Global upgrade certificates

SkyMiles mileage upgrades

Delta One Suites aboard an Airbus A350. ZACH HONIG/THE POINTS GUY

Whereas we usually advocate storing up SkyMiles till you’ll be able to trade them for a real award ticket, that’s not at all times sensible for rare flyers. Delta permits its passengers to improve their current tickets with SkyMiles no matter standing.

You should utilize Delta’s Upgrade with Miles function to improve to Delta One, Delta Premium Choose, top quality or Delta Consolation+ for eligible flights. In case your reservation is eligible for an improve, you’ll see the choice to improve in your journey abstract.


Delta usually costs mileage upgrades by inserting a worth of roughly 1.07 cents on every SkyMile. In different phrases, if Delta is charging $60 for a selected seat improve, it’ll additionally permit you to half methods with roughly 5,600 SkyMiles to realize the identical improve. Simply be aware that you simply might be able to obtain marginally larger worth by reserving an award ticket outright.

Purchase-up upgrades can turn out to be useful if you happen to’re chasing elite standing too. You may earn MQDs on the money or SkyMiles you spend on an improve, providing you with a lift towards the following standing tier. In case you use SkyMiles to improve, you will earn MQDs the identical approach you earn on award tickets. Each 1,000 SkyMiles you spend equal 10 MQDs, so a ten,000-SkyMile improve would earn 100 MQDs.

Associated: How I used SkyMiles to upgrade my Paris flight from coach to Delta One

Backside line

Getting upgraded for “free” is a wonderful factor, and you’ll higher your probabilities by climbing Delta’s Medallion elite ranks and holding a Delta SkyMiles Reserve card or Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business card. You’ll even be clever to decide on flights that aren’t throughout peak business-travel durations, and if there’s a connection concerned, keep away from Delta’s largest hubs like Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York (LaGuardia and JFK) and Los Angeles.

Utilizing a stash of SkyMiles to improve will be an effective way to spice up your flight expertise. Nonetheless, you’ll need to consider carefully earlier than utilizing Improve with Miles — Delta will solely permit you to extract roughly 1.07 cents per SkyMile by way of this technique.

Improve certificates are probably the most thrilling choice, however you’ll want to achieve Platinum or Diamond standing to safe them. In case you’re lucky sufficient to have a couple of in your account, you’ll be able to strategically plan a dream journey, pay money for an OK seat and fly there in an amazing seat.

Victoria Walker and Andrew Kunesh contributed to this publish.


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