Selecting My Delta Platinum Choice Benefit

In mid-September I started a Delta Platinum challenge, which requires earning 18,750 MQMs in 90 days in order to maintain the status. I figured it was worth trying for a status challenge with them, especially given that it’s valid through January 2019 (since I started the challenge in the second half of the year), and given that Delta status challenges aren’t even once in a lifetime.

This week I finally completed by Delta status challenge, after flying to Chengdu on Xiamen Air, taking a couple of paid economy flights domestically, and finally taking a New York to Los Angeles Delta One flight earlier in the week.

Just yesterday I received an email from SkyMiles congratulating me on completing my status challenge, and now my status is valid through January 31, 2019.

In addition to the standard elite benefits, Delta Platinum Medallion members receive one Choice Benefit, while Diamond Medallion members receive two Choice Benefits. One thing I didn’t realize upon starting the challenge is that you can actually choose Choice Benefits when you complete a status challenge. I figured that members who qualified using this method wouldn’t receive a Choice Benefit, so I’m happy to see that’s not the case.

Since this is my first time having status with Delta, I thought it would be interesting to look at the options. So, what are the Delta Platinum Choice Benefits?

  • Four Regional Upgrade CertificatesOne-way Regional Upgrade Certificates can be used on all paid published Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ fares, except E (Basic Economy), on the same routes as Medallion Complimentary Upgrades and on non-stop flights between JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, DCA-LAX and BOS-SFO. Upgrade Certificates must be booked and flown one year from date of issuance.View all fare rules and restrictions or visit My Wallet for further details after confirmation.
  • One $100 Global Entry Application VoucherSave time re-entering the United States or going through security using Global Entry. Learn more about Global Entry.
  • 20,000 Bonus Miles: Add miles that never expire to your account, gift them to another SkyMiles Member or donate them to a SkyWish charity of your choice.
  • Travel or Retail Gift Card: Celebrate your Status with a $200 travel voucher or $200 retail gift card to Tiffany & Co.
  • Silver Medallion Status for Recipient You ChooseGive the gift of Status by gifting Silver Medallion Status to anyone you choose.

To crunch the numbers in terms of the benefits, I value SkyMiles at ~1.2 cents each, so I value 20,000 SkyMiles at ~$240. To me that means that the $100 Global Entry credit and the gift card should be eliminated as options. Furthermore, I have no interest in nominating someone to Delta Silver Medallion, given that the value of elite status keeps decreasing.

I guess that narrows it down to four regional upgrade certificates vs. 20,000 miles. As a Platinum Medallion I already receive unlimited domestic upgrades, though upgrades don’t consistently clear on all routes, while Regional Upgrade Certificates let you confirm upgrades in advance, assuming there’s confirmable upgrade space. Furthermore, they’re valid on Delta One routes, which don’t otherwise offer upgrades in advance (as of next year you can upgrade within 24 hours, but I suspect those upgrades will be few and far between).

What it really comes down to is whether I value Regional Upgrade Certificates at a minimum of 5,000 miles each. In my case the answer is definitely yes.

But there’s one other interesting wrinkle. I only have to make my Choice Benefit selection by January 31, 2019 (that’s right, over a year from now), and then the upgrades are valid for a year from the date they’re issued. In theory if I didn’t requalify for status, this means I could get my upgrades the day my status expires, and have them for the subsequent year.

In reality I won’t wait that long, but given that I have no immediate plans for those upgrades, I’m going to hold off on selecting them. I might as well only select them once I know what I want to do with them, so I can get as much life out of them as possible.

The one annoying thing is actually searching Delta upgrade space. Delta doesn’t let you search upgrade space online, but rather you have to call to ask about space, which I find to be a ridiculous process.

To Delta Platinum Medallions, does anyone not select the upgrades as your Choice Benefit?


  1. You actually can’t search upgrade space online even if you do have upgrades in your account. Absolutely nothing about this process is automated.

  2. i’ll do the Tiffany one. at least that one is actually concrete, not some zimbabwean miles or upgrade certs that won’t ever clear.

  3. The regional upgrades are just a carrot on a stick. If you value a confirmed upgrade at booking, don’ count on it. I have had one flight confirmed in 4 years as platinum (50 min flight). Even on flights where not a single first class seat has been sold. You cannot search availability. You have to call and waste your time with a bunch of “no’s” with Delta rep. I wish they would reduce the number of RUC and make them guaranteed or get rid of this “perk” altogether if they don’t plan on standing behind it.
    It will place you to the top of the upgrade list, but I don’t fancy that risk for a long flight.

  4. So stupid- you spend time writing about all of the bad things about delta then waste your time earning status with them. What happened to wanting a dog and settling down?

  5. I am Delta Platinum and have always selected the Regional Upgrade Certificates. The other commenters are correct, you can’t search for upgrade available space online, and you have have to call to use the certificates (and search for space). If there is not space available for a flight, they will waitlist the Regional Upgrade Certificate, which means that you are automatically at the top of the upgrade list (ahead of Diamonds and other Platinums). Also, if your flight involves a connection (I fly out of a small airport and always have to connect through SEA or SLC), you can apply the Regional Upgrade Certificate to just the longest segment, so that you won’t clear the short leg, but not clear the long leg, but still lose the upgrade certificate.

    I have never been able to use a Regional Upgrade Certificate when I’ve called in to use it. Every time, including times where first class was completely empty (including once for a domestic 767 flight!), I was told there was no upgrade space. But, I have also never not cleared. So long as there is a free first class seat, you will get it and clear several days in advance. The closest I came to not clearing was on a Friday night redeye from SEA to JFK on a 757 with flat bed seats where I used two upgrade certs (one for me and one for my wife). There was one first class seat available two weeks out. No upgrades happened during the upgrade window, but one of us was upgraded at the gate. However, there was a tech glitch and they ended up not using the upgrade certificate, but still got the upgrade to a flat bed for the redeye (though, being a gentlemen, I gave it to my wife who isn’t used to upgrades).

    Long story short, I think the Regional Upgrade Certificates are worth it more than 20k skymiles. For those cross-country redeyes, it is worth it to have some certainty that you will get an upgrade is totally worth it, even if you can’t confirm in advance. Of course, it is also stressful to play the upgrade game (do I use a certificate or will I clear without?), but sometimes the stress isn’t worth it. If you are flying enough to hit Platinum, the 20k miles won’t make or break your increasingly more worthless skymiles balance. Go for the Regional Upgrade Certificates.

  6. Delta Diamond members now have three choices than two.

    Regional upgrades really depend on luck, routing, and time of travel. I got lucky to clear on JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, and LGA-DEN before. Some flights I got confirmed immediately, and some were waitlisted but eventually cleared. Again, timing is quite important.

  7. Also a Delta PM, and have had PM or DM status from 2007. I always picked the upgrade certificates, and my biggest pet peeve is the search for inventory since you have to call into the elite line. I have also NOT cleared on several wait listed certificates, so I always find inventory and then immediately apply. I have 2 routes I like to use these on. 1. LAX/SFO-JFK Delta One. This route is a great use of the cert and makes the transcon comfortable. If I have flexibility in my schedule I can usually find inventory. 2. LAX-HNL in Delta 767 lie flat. Delta has 1 flight a day on this route (5X or 6X weekly) and this is a good use as well.

    I’ve cleared status through 2019, and I think i’m doing something else from now on. The searching for inventory hoops that Delta make you jump through is really an insult. Also Delta One and F fares are frequently discounted, so you can “buy status” when you want it. I hope you can find good uses for your certs!

  8. I agree with those who doubt the value of RUCs. In over five years of having them I’ve only Ben able to use them once. Usually they just expire and are lost.

  9. I’m 0 for 2 trying to use mine so far…first was LAS-ATL and then a couple weeks ago landed at 3rd on the upgrade list trying to go ATL-SFO.

  10. I took the $200 travel voucher twice for $400. At least it’s a guaranteed payout, and I’ll earn miles on the tickets I buy.

  11. The RUC are very difficult to use. I have had a lot expire because I try to save them for the longer flights and flying out of ATL it is difficult to get them. Most of the time they don’t clear immediately and you are waitlisted. I am about 25% for having them clear on waitlist. So they have expired… Sigh.

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