Delta announced a new upgrade policy for Medallion members today, effective as of March 1, 2014:
We are always looking for opportunities to improve the Medallion program. Beginning March 1, 2014, Systemwide Upgrades will be replaced by Global Upgrades (available in all markets) and Regional Upgrades (available in the same markets as Medallion Complimentary Upgrades, but with higher priority) as a Choice Benefits selection. Global and Regional Upgrades will be valid on all paid Economy Class fares except for E, providing you even more options and convenience.
- Diamond Medallion members may choose either four (4) Global Upgrades or eight (8) Regional Upgrades.
- Platinum Medallion members may choose four (4) Regional Upgrades.
- You may continue to select Systemwide Upgrades as a Choice Benefit through February 28, 2014.
Domestic routes (with the exception of transcons out of JFK) continue to be complimentary, and flights between the west coast and Hawaii are now eligible for upgrades as well.
On the one hand, it’s great to see Delta finally offering a meaningful international upgrade option to their elite members, as that has been a major point of weakness for the SkyMiles program. Similarly, offering upgrades to Hawaii seems like a no-brainer, as American, United, and Alaska all offer complimentary upgrades to their top elite members on those routes. So props to Delta for those updates.
On the other hand, requiring a Global Upgrade for a domestic transcon just seems a bit cheap, and a slap in the face to Platinum Medallions especially. Delta has made great improvements to their transcon offerings, but given that American and United have (or will have) a similar product, it seems odd to potentially alienate elite members. American offers complimentary upgrades on transcons to their top tier elite members, and United elites at least have the option to use a Regional Upgrade on those routes.
It’s also worth noting that unlike the systemwide upgrades offered to top tier elites by American and United, Delta will require the elite member to be traveling on the same reservation in order to use an upgrade certificate:
Overall, I think Diamond Medallion members definitely come out ahead with these enhancements. It’s a bit trickier for Platinum Medallions, as they effectively lose transcontinental upgrades out of New York and gain upgrades from Hawaii to the west coast, so it very much depends on travel patterns. The loss of Systemwide Upgrades (as difficult as they were to use) means that Platinums will effectively be limited to mileage upgrades for international flights.
On the whole I’ll give these changes a thumbs up, though.
Now that both Delta and United offer their top tier members a hybrid of regional and global upgrades, my money is on American doing the same when they revamp their frequent flyer program for the “new” American.