WHOA! Delta To Offer Medallion Upgrades On All Domestic Flights, Including Delta One

Delta One is the name for Delta’s premium business class service, which they offer on most international longhaul flights, as well as on select transcontinental flights.

These flights feature fully flat beds in the forward cabin, along with Delta’s enhanced premium cabin service, including Westin Heavenly bedding, Tumi amenity kits, and improved food & beverage offerings.

Last week Delta announced they’d be expanding the number of routes which offer official “Delta One” service (as opposed to some routes which have internationally-configured cabins, but don’t have the enhanced soft product). The new routes include:

  • New York JFK to Seattle as of April 1, 2018
  • New York JFK to San Diego as of April 1, 2018
  • New York JFK to Las Vegas as of May 1, 2018

These three routes join Delta’s four existing domestic Delta One routes, which include New York to Los Angeles, New York to San Francisco, Washington DCA to Los Angeles, and Boston to San Francisco.

As Ben noted on Friday, this was Good News/Bad News for Delta elites, as the SkyMiles upgrade policy offers elite members complimentary upgrades to Comfort+ and First Class, but not to Delta One. In other words, when these changes kick in, there would be seven long domestic routes not offering elite members complimentary upgrades.

Shockingly, Delta has announced an update to this policy today, which will be effective as of April 1, 2018.

Starting in April, Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members will be eligible for unlimited day-of-departure Complimentary Upgrades to the Delta One cabin on all domestic flights, including Hawaii

The “day-of-departure” caveat is key, as the upgrade window is shortened for all Medallion members:

The domestic Delta One upgrade process will align with the airline’s domestic First Class process, except upgrades will be awarded in the hours leading up to the flight, as opposed to beginning several days ahead of time.

This is a huge change for Delta, and a day-of upgrade is certainly better than no complimentary upgrade, though I contest the assertion that it’s “industry-leading”. American allows upgrades on all routes, following the normal elite upgrade window, as an example.

But there’s no question that this is a significant improvement for Delta elites, who would have previously needed to use their Choice Benefit upgrade vouchers to upgrade on these routes.

Of course, elites will still be able to use instruments to confirm upgrades ahead of time, and on these popular routes there may not be much upgrade space to speak of regardless, but I tend to feel this is an overall positive change.

What do you make of this change to Delta One upgrades?


  1. Definitely a positive change.

    But with Delta’s CEO advocating for selling more first class seats vs. giving away upgrades, I’m not sure if too many people will be getting to sit up front for free anyhow.

  2. Oh please. Do you actually think there will be inventory available?

    RUC/GUC are damn near impossible to use now…. this is all PR baloney.

    Great news for that traveler who takes the late night Christmas Eve JFK-LAX but other than that do you actually think there will be any upgradeable space that DL hasn’t sold for peanuts?

  3. What about alllowing regional upgrades to be used for premium-economy or at least allowing you to upgrade into premium-economy with one global upgrade certificate and then waitlist for business-class? That would be the most positive change.

  4. there will be winners and some will lose, but more winners, as Delta One will have all seats now taken, bit sad to seats available, if a Med member, so should now be allocated, think its a great MOVE,

  5. A PM who has the AMEX DL Reserve card. Made a last minute itin change last week to a very expensive ABQ-PIT thru ATL. The Atlanta to PIT portion departed approx 10:30 PM on a Wednesday night. I did not get upgraded to FC. I was #9 on the UG list with zero seats. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t celebrate wildly regarding this new policy.

    It is certainly better than not having this policy, but on the routes to LAX and SFO I would still absolutely check JetBlue Mint first.

  6. To be clear, I obviously don’t expect this to create an increase in inventory, or trigger a reduction in prices. The “traditional” transcons of SFO/LAX>JFK will clearly continue to be tough upgrades.

    But I think it’s a good thing to offer, particular as Delta expands the product to less traditionally-premium routes. Not allowing complimentary upgrades on SEA/SAN>JFK just because the same planes folks have been flying will now have amenity kits isn’t a great message.

  7. I don’t think this matters at all. DL puts D1 on routes where there is premium demand and they sell the seats. They price it well, too. I’m thinking Diamonds and the occasional Platinum will catch a very infrequent upgrade on an off day, particularly as they sell reasonably priced upgrades all the way up to the flight. If anything, this may replace some non-revs with some high tier elites, as that’s more or less who I’ve seen fill the seats.

    All that said, D1 is a product I’m happy to pay for when I want it, and I’ll continue to do that. I’m pushing DL Gold and I know I’d never see that upgrade. I do pay for it occasionally when I’m returning from the west coast on a redeye – totally worth it in those instances.

  8. I hope American takes heed.

    As an EP I sometimes don’t get upgrades until the day of travel. Last week I flew CLT-PHX-YVR.

    The CLT-PHX leg was confirmed four days out so around 100 hrs. The PHX-YVR leg only got confirmed when I was en route CLT-PHX. But grateful nonetheless.

  9. This is a total ruse. As everyone says, an upgrade on day of departure will mean just a couple of D1 seats to go to Diamond medallions or maybe a Platinum medallion, if they’re lucky. Having achieved Platinum medallion status myself for 2018, for the 6 year in a row, I don’t see much benefit to this status anymore. You can’t even get into a Sky Lounge just based on that status alone and flying domestic first class on a paid ticket won’t help you either. I’ve ditched all my Delta Amex cards and have gone with a pure Amex Platinum so I can accrue points faster and use them with other airlines.

    I’m also approaching Million Miler status and see that I will only get some cheap gift and Silver medallion status for life. That’s nothing to get excited about. So long Delta.

  10. Lucky – an update on mileage upgrade policy at Delta for upgrades after booking would be appreciated. I’m finding that Delta’s rules are becoming increasingly vague, particularly with the debut of Delta One Suites and Premium Select now. I’m trying to book a flight to SIN right now on business, and am willing to use miles to upgrade myself from Premium Select, but agents are giving me the run around and don’t seem to know themselves how it works. I have all these damn miles but they’re making it difficult for me to use them!

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