I recently penned a post on defining value in Atlanta. In that instance, Southwest won my business based on price. However, I alluded to price not always being the deciding factor in that post. In fact, I almost bought a Delta first class ticket, but given the length of flight, Southwest won the day on that one.

That said, I remain a Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion. Whether one loves or loathes SkyMiles 2015, and whether you are earning more or fewer miles this year, Delta excels with the level of care provided to SkyMiles Medallions. Especially at the the Platinum and Diamond level….. extra-especially the Diamond level (so I’m told 🙂 ). However, one area where Delta’s elite program historically lagged was the availability of some form of useable systemwide upgrade. This was a real weakness in the program, but that changed last year when SkyMiles introduced Regional and Global upgrade certificates, affectionately known as RUCs and GUCs. These certificates became part of the Choice Benefits program for Medallions, and Platinums can choose 4 RUCs, while Diamonds had the option of 8 RUCs or 4 GUCs. You can view where these certificates can be used here. (Logo image courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

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The best use of these certificates is on the longest flight you can possibly apply them to. As primarily a short-haul, domestic flier nowadays, my primary reason for selecting these certificates was to give MrsMJ and I a better shot at an upgrade on the handful of flights each year that we take to travel to/from vacation. Not too long ago, I stumbled across a really attractive fare to get us home from our big vacation cruise for 2015 on Delta, and I immediately booked it. Knowing I’d likely let two of my RUCs expire if I didn’t act now, I rang up the Platinum Medallion line to have them applied to my flight. If inventory is available for the upgrade, you’re good to go immediately. If not, you can waitlist for the upgrade at a higher priority. As it turned out, seats were available immediately, the Platinum rep took care of business for me, and MrsMJ and I are confirmed up front on an extremely reasonable coach fare. For sure, markets do matter, but in my case, I got what I wanted.

The other benefit of these certificates is that they offer higher upgrade priority. Granted, Delta’s upgrade priority algorithm could probably launch a space shuttle so I won’t attempt to explain it here. I will say that on a flight not too long ago, I had checked in for my flight the evening before. When I got to the airport, I was #9 on the list with 3 seats open. It had been a particularly “hellish” day of unnecessary drama and nuttiness. Frankly, I had no interest in sitting in coach. I thought what the heck? I’ve got an RUC that’s going to expire. I gave the Platinum Medallion desk a call and asked to have it applied. I went from #9 on the list to #1. Just saying….

In summary, Delta and SkyMiles aren’t perfect but they finally made progress with regional and global upgrade certificates. They do work, and I, for one, appreciate them and the overall level of care I receive as a Platinum Medallion when flying Delta.

-MJ, May 27, 2015