Delta Secrets – How To Get A Delta Upgrade As A Platinum Medallion Member


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Delta has a generous complimentary upgrade program for their elite members. Elite members in the Delta SkyMiles program can receive confirmed space available upgrades well before the day of departure. The confirmed complimentary upgrades are unlimited and are based on elite status. The upgrades can be processed formally at the 5 day mark before departure, but I’ve seen it happen earlier as a Diamond member a few years ago.

The Platinum upgrade window opens at the 5 day mark before departure. So booking before this window may help improve upgrade chances.

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My Experience Booking At The 5 Day Platinum Upgrade Window

I recently booked a flight about 4 days and 23 hours before departure. This meant I was booking the flight 1 hour after the 5 day Platinum upgrade window opened up for processing. I selected a coach seat and purchased the ticket. I gave the system a few moments to refresh and then looked at my seat selection to see if I hit the seat upgrade lottery.

Sure enough, jackpot! I was already auto-upgraded to seat 1A for my flight departing in 4 days and 23 hours. The best part was it was completely free. No extra points or cash. Nice benefit Delta!

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Bottom Line

If you fly a lot of domestic flights and value flying in First Class, Delta’s elite member complimentary upgrade program should be given strong consideration.

Delta Platinum members can increase their chance for a complimentary upgrade by booking tickets before the Platinum upgrade window opens. This way, members may have a chance to receive any available complimentary upgrades before the Gold and Silver members upgrade window opens up.

What’s your strategy to receive a complimentary status upgrade on Delta?

Of course there is the The Delta Reserve Credit Card which elevates card members in the upgrade priority hierarchy.

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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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Comments

  1. What class of Coach Ticket did you purchase? In other words, what was the “letter” of the class of ticket you purchased? “M” or another class?
    Thanks.

  2. While not any earth shattering news for most medallion members, I greatly do appreciate the post without any affiliate links. Kudos.

  3. How is that different then UA or US (and soon AA I guess) policy for upgrades?
    Also, you have to consider Diamond getting priority and then fare trumping status as well.

  4. I’m a little surprised, that you were surprised by this upgrade? When you buy seats inside the 5 day window, you should already know which flights have the up available, before you click Buy. For each possible flight option it will state either “Upgrade Available” or “Upgrade Eligible”. “Eligible” means you won’t get it when you “buy” but might get it by departure. But “Available” means you are getting FC as soon as you click “Buy”. I’ve done this many times inside the 5-day window, and chosen the “Available” flight, even if it wasn’t my preferred departure time or route.

    Also, PM’s can still sometimes get confirmed as early as 7 days, if the Coach load is heavy and the FC load is light, they often start the automatic up’s early… (I assume it lets them sell a few more Coach seats this way…?)

  5. I usually commute from LGA through ATL to JAN, either weekly or every other week. Conventional wisdom is that tryingto get upgrades on an ATL/LGAflight, especially on a Monday morning down or Friday afternon up is impossible. However, as a PM, I am about 90% this year. I book about 6 weeks in advance and I am normally on a L, U, or T fare. So yes, this works, and thank you Delta.

  6. I usually commute from LGA through ATL to JAN, either weekly or every other week. Conventional wisdom is that trying to get upgrades on an ATL/LGA flight, especially on a Monday morning down or Friday afternon up is impossible. However, as a PM, I am about 90% upgraded this year. I book about 6 weeks in advance and I am normally on a L, U, or T fare. So yes, this works, and thank you Delta.

  7. @Jim A, what I am seeing on the “new” DL website is that the availability of ugrades is not indicated until after I purchase the ticket. The legs will say “Not upgrade eligible” and a note indicates that upgrade availability will not be shown until after I hit the purchase button.

  8. I just tried it…… and it still functions the way I am used to. Yes the new site is a pain…. you have to hover over and click, one flight at a time; where it says “Upgrade Eligibility”. The message then will state either “Eligible” or “Available”. I looked at ATL-FLL for March 23, the 7:15pm appears to be the only “Available” that day. A better example: March 23 ATL-MCI. The 7:30am departure (connection thru MSP) shows the first leg “Eligible” but the 2nd leg “Available”.

  9. I tried it in the hopes of getting a better system but it didn’t work for me, bummer. Maybe it’s my browser.

    BTW, anyone else seen a huge increase in fares? Last year I got my round trip at about $300. Now the best that I am seeing is $475….

  10. Yeah this year had been markedly more expensive to fly than last year. I’m in the WAS area and have had to shift a lot of my flying from DL/WN out of BWI to US out of DCA, which is not thrilling.

  11. Flying out of ATL as a PM rarely gets you an upgrade. I book weeks ahead and never get upgraded. 16 out of 82 on the upgrade list doesn’t get you anywhere.

  12. @Corey, what is your destination? As I wrote, I am LGA/ATL/JAN on Monday mornings and JAN/ATL/LGA on Friday afternoons, and I am at 90%.

    I always check in at the 24 hour before flight time.

  13. Great post. Really informative “inside” information and strategies. Can’t wait to put some of your tips into practice.

  14. OK, then I am confused by the post….. since you said “I gave the system a few moments to refresh and then looked at my seat selection to see if I hit the seat upgrade lottery” and never mentioned, that you can clearly see the upgrade eligibility before buying. At under 5 days, it’s not a lottery. But it’s your blog, not mine. 🙂

  15. Hi Jim A – I wasn’t completely forthcoming. Since you’ve pressed me on this here is why I went to the system to check.

    I have to purchase my tickets through a corporate booking site. That site doesn’t show auto upgrades. I checked DL.com, then went to my corp site, which showed a booking into confirmed coach seat, I even had to pick a coach seat selection. The ticket was purchased as coach and the booking information was sent to DL.com where it was refreshed once it was “ticketed”. At that point, I saw the upgrade. And you are right about another point, it is my blog 🙂

    Thanks for reading.

  16. @Chris – You are probably booking for this month (Spring Break) which has higher demand than usual.

    @The Weekly Flyer – The only card that helps your upgrades with Delta is the AmEx Reserve, it will put you ahead of your Elite level. So if you are PM, it’ll put you at the top of all the PMs, and then by fare code. BUT, you will still be under DMs.

  17. Quick scenario: I am a PM this year with a Delta Reserve. I have 30K medallion miles more to go and 15K USD until I get a 15K medallion bonus. I have a legitimate shot at DM with Delta because I am traveling from DTW to West Africa soon. What are my chances of international transatlantic upgrades and how can I proceed maximizing my miles to ensure I receive my Diamond Medallion status?

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