Delta Quietly Changes Paid Upgrade Program

Our site may contain affiliate links. Read Advertiser Disclosure policy here.

Delta recently updated their paid standby upgrade program March 1st.

One of the major changes is that they are allowing paid upgrades on more fare classes now, however those on cheaper fares will be forced to pay a higher upgrade fee.


Before you would only upgrade on a K+ fare, but now they are adding paid upgrades to L, U, T, X, and V fares in addition to K+ fares.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.20.44 AM

However, the price for these paid upgrades is dependent on the fare class. For flights within the domestic 48 states and Alaska it’s broken down in the following three fare classes: Y/B/M fares; S/H/Q/K/L fares; and U/T/X/V fares.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.20.52 AM

The same applies to flights to Hawaii that they are broken down by the same fare types. If I recall correctly, Delta used to allow paid upgrades to Hawaii on all fare classes so this is not much of a significant change except for the price increases.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.20.58 AM

For all other eligible flights (mainly Caribbean routes) the pricing chart above would apply. Note for these routes they are still requiring a K+ fare.

Another major change when it comes to paid upgrades is that they are not allowing them on their JFK-Los Angeles/San Francisco/Seattle flights.

This makes sense since they’ve slashed Medallion upgrades on these routes and paid upgrades are generally only available on routes that they offer complimentary Medallion upgrades.

For comparison this was Delta’s old standby upgrade chart.

Delta's previous paid standby upgrade chart

Delta’s previous paid standby upgrade chart

Just to clarify, these are the only routes eligible for paid upgrades:

Within North America including Hawaii (except JFK-LAX, JFK-SEA and JFK-SFO).
• To/from Aruba, Bermuda, Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands), Los Cabos (Mexico), Montego Bay (Jamaica), Nassau (Bahamas), Providenciales (Turks and Caicos), 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

Bottom Line 

These changes follow Delta’s new mission to favor those on higher fares and these new upgrade pricing charts do just that. If you’re on a Y/B/M fare domestically and want to pay to upgrade to first class you can do so starting at only $49 now compared to those on cheaper fares which will now start at $169.

One thing I want to make clear about these paid stand-by upgrades is that they come after all Medallion upgrades. While sometimes the Gate Information Display screens will appear to be selling upgrades, these will not clear until all Medallions do.

What do you think of Delta’s new upgraded pricing for their Paid Stand-by upgrade program? Would you plan on upgrading on any of these routes based on these new prices?

Sign up for Email || Twitter || Facebook || Tips & Tricks

Hotel Offers || Airline Offers || Bank Offers || Cash Back Offers

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.

About Points, Miles & Martinis

Here at Points, Miles and Martinis, we love all things travel. We focus on topics relating to travel including destinations, airline, hotel, car rental and credit card reward programs. Our goal is to help people travel better. - See more at our About Us page.

Sign up for Email || Twitter || Facebook |Tips & Tricks
Hotel Offers || Airline Offers || Bank Offers || Cash Back Offers


  1. @Annette Nope, these are only available within the United States as well as some Caribbean routes.

  2. “after all Medallion upgrades”

    isn’t that nearly useless? how often do you see a flight that FOs have cleared and still space left ?

  3. I fly out of ATL & LGA weekly and there are anywhere from 75-125 Medallions on the upgrade list with 20+ people on standby, no matter what time of day I fly. No way this would work from either location. You would need to be flying on an 8am Saturday flight to a destination that “might” have room onboard.

  4. From a DL perspective, they need to give auto upgrades on YBM fares to more people, even before Medallions on non-YBM fares.
    That would really induce people to fly DL on last min high fares

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *