Since my concentration is mostly European focused, I do not spend a lot of time concentrating on the Delta domestic upgrade program. My friend Mike just did a nice write up on his blog Frequent Flyer Miles 101. Mike is also “famous,” in my world for predicting that Delta would go to a revenue based program more than 2 years in advance of the official implementation in January 2015.
For Medallions, you should be familiar with the upgrade scheme, but for completeness and for those not aware I am posting the actual Delta chart. Complementary Medallion Upgrades are mostly available on domestic (US 48) routes, with a few exceptions that include transcontinental BusinessElite routes. International and transcontinental upgrades will be covered in a future post.
Clearance priority, is mostly based on Medallion Level and fare class. The chart below, assumes that seats are released in advance for upgrade. If it goes to the gate (also known as a “battlefield upgrade”), the priorities remain the same with Y trumping Medallion Level, and Delta Reserve AMEX cardholders having a slight additional advantage (within their clearance priority level).
For a much more detailed look at domestic upgrades, I strongly suggest you take a look at the recent post on upgrades on Frequent Flyer Miles 101. This is also a great blog for those just “getting into the game” of Miles+Points, especially if you are located in the United States.
Be aware, that Delta has started to aggressively market low cost first class fares and upgrade offers in the US domestic market. This has caused there to be fewer seats for Medallion and mileage upgrades. In many cases, it makes a lot of sense to look at the difference in price to pay for the upgrade (higher fare class) at time of booking. In addition, even after booking on delta.com; review your reservations as there might be an offer to upgrade using miles or cash. This FCM, first class monetization, upsets a lot of Medallions who are used to a high percentage of “free” Medallion upgrades. As with most things, miles+points related, situations and systems change. You always need to be examining all of the possibilities.
What are you experiences with the Delta domestic upgrade program?
Medallion : The Delta Airlines (SkyMile) Elite program
Battlefield Upgrade : Upgrades that do not clear in advance, but clear prior to departure at the gate
FCM : first class monetization