This post may contain affiliate links from our advertising partners, such as American Express. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here.
Some of the offers below may have expired or are unavailable on our site at this time.
Most frequent flyers are aware of Delta’s generous domestic complimentary upgrades for elite members. These complimentary upgrades are often reserved for Medallion Diamond, Platinum, Gold and sometimes even Silver members. But even if you don’t have status there is still a chance to upgrade to First Class at the gate.
How To Purchase A Gate Upgrade
The first thing to consider is that not all flights will offer the same-day upgrade for purchase. These are dependent on availability and routing. In addition, you have to be on a fare higher than K class. This means if your fare is a Y, B, M, H, Q, or K, you can purchase the same-day upgrade if the availability is there.
Your best chance is on a North America route that doesn’t have a lot of elite members on the flight, think non-peak routes and times.
The same-day standby upgrade option allows you to upgrade your flight for a small fee, provided space is available and your ticket is eligible. Eligible tickets are those ticket booked in K-class (or higher). For travel to/from Hawaii only, eligible fares include those booked in L, U and T classes. This option applies to specific flights and routings:
- Within North America
- To/from Aruba, Bermuda, Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands), Montego Bay (Jamaica), Nassau (Bahamas), Providenciales (Turks and Caicos), Los Cabos (Mexico), San Juan (Puerto Rico), and St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands)
- Between Atlanta and Costa Rica, St. Maarten and St. Lucia
- Between Cancun (Mexico)and Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Memphis and Minneapolis
The second thing you should consider is price. Does it really make sense to pay for the upgrade on short flights? It depends.
The same-day upgrade is priced by distance. You can see the cost breakdown in the picture below.
Does Availability Really Exist For These Upgrades?
Yes. On my flight to Dallas, there were 2 upgrades available and no one left on the upgrade list. Coach was another story. There were only 42 seats assigned at time of boarding. This means there were a ton of coach seats available for the non-revenue flyers stand by list and 2 seats available to the general public to upgrade to at the gate. This flight was non-peak travel time. As a result, the plane was wide open.
Breakfast was served as the sun rose.
The breakfast included cereal, fruit, yogurt and a muffin top.
If you are a non-elite SkyMiles Medallion member, there is still a chance fr an upgrade, but you’ll have to hand over some cash to purchase the same-day upgrade.
Get Delta SkyMiles Status Faster
Are you looking for more Delta Miles?
Points, Miles & Martinis will earn a small referral credit for successful applications through the links in this post. As always we appreciate any support for the blog.
This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This post was accurate at the time of posting, offer may be unavailable on this site at a later time. For details on current offers visit the card issuer’s site.