Delta sent out an email to SkyMiles Medallion members today outlining a supposedly “new” way to upgrade to first class with miles (even though it has been around for a while). I’ve received a few emails about it expressing confusion, so figured I’d provide a quick rundown.
Basically at the time you purchase a ticket, Delta is giving you the option of paying the difference between a revenue economy ticket and a revenue first class ticket at the rate of one cent per mile.
They always show you the option of paying the fare difference (in cash) between economy and first class at the time of ticketing, so immediately below that is an option to use miles instead, at a rate of one cent per mile. For example, in the below scenario you can move up to first class for $147 or 14,700 miles.
How does it work?
To book at delta.com, first log in, then select your Economy Class ticket. If your reservation is eligible, you’ll automatically see the option to Upgrade with Miles in your Trip Summary. Once selected, you can use your miles to upgrade all tickets in your reservation.
Reservations eligible for Upgrade with Miles:
- You must be logged in and have sufficient mileage balance to upgrade all passengers in the reservation for all flights in the reservation.
- All flights in the reservation must be within the U.S. 50.
- There must be available seats in the premium class to upgrade all passengers in the reservation for all flights in the reservation.
- Flights must be on Delta or a Delta Connection® carrier.
What is the difference between Upgrade with Miles and Mileage Upgrade Awards?
Upgrade with Miles is only available during an original booking at delta.com or with a Reservations Specialist. Upgrade with Miles is based on the difference between the Economy Class fare selected and the lowest BusinessElite, First or Business Class fare for the itinerary, which is converted into miles. You will earn miles and MQMs based on the cabin flown.
Mileage Upgrade Awards may be redeemed for fixed mileage amounts according to area of travel and are only valid with certain fare classes. The upgrade transaction can be completed up to 24 hours prior to departure and must be booked through a Reservations Specialist. You will earn mileage credit based on the Economy Class fare paid for the ticket. Inventory is limited.
Do I have to be traveling in order to use Upgrade with Miles?
You may use your miles to upgrade other passengers, even if you are not traveling. However, you must be logged in at delta.com or be an authorized user of the account when purchasing an Upgrade with Miles ticket from a Reservations Specialist.
Will I earn miles for Upgrade with Miles tickets?
Yes, if you purchase an Upgrade with Miles ticket, you will earn mileage credit, MQMs, Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and applicable class bonuses based on the cabin flown. Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) will be awarded based on the cash amount of the ticket purchased, excluding any taxes and fees.
It’s not an especially tempting option and not even a new option, but it is basically just another option to redeem SkyMiles for one cent each. In cases where the fare difference between economy and first class is minimal, using this method to upgrade could be cheaper than using the fixed upgrade award chart.
That being said, even if it is less, you’re probably better off just paying cash for the fare difference. Even though SkyMiles aren’t the most valuable mileage currency, you should be able to get well over one cent per mile value out of them… which is the best you’ll be able to do with this offering.
(Tip of the hat to John)