Delta’s Upgrade Options with Miles
For the most part, I like Delta. Recently, I looked into Delta’s upgrade options for an upcoming trip. Delta offers two ways to upgrade on a paid fare with miles.
1. Upgrade with Miles (Option available before you book a flight):
The miles required for the upgrade is the price difference between coach and the upgraded cabin, calculated at a 1 cent per mile rate. Here’s a real example: If the price difference for a short flight is $60, then you’ll need 6k in Delta Skymiles to upgrade. If the fare difference is not too significant – which is often the case for short flights – this option can be a great deal.
2. Mileage Upgrade Awards (Option available after you book a flight):
This is also known as the Mileage Upgrade Award, and it is subject to upgrade space availability.
“Mileage Upgrade Awards may be redeemed for fixed mileage amounts according to area of travel and are only valid with certain fare classes”.
Because Delta no longer publishes an award chart, you have to call to find out how many miles is needed for the upgrade. I wanted to upgrade for a traveling companion.
I called Delta and found out that upgrade space was not available for the desired flight (interestingly, it is available through the “upgrade with miles” option). The friendly rep checked another flight for that same day and let know that it would cost 40k in miles to upgrade a T fare in coach to First (the aircraft is a 3-class cabin)
My jaws dropped. I asked him if he could repeat it again. He confirmed that it would take 40k miles to upgrade.
That is just insane! It made absolutely no economic sense to me.
- Booking the flight outright with miles in First costs less than 40k miles (and as low as 11k and $5.60 for the one way ticket). No base fare.
- The Mileage Upgrade Award consists of base fare AND a required 40k in miles. That is one expensive upgrade option for one segment, when 25k in miles could get you a round-trip coach ticket with other programs. In fact, the Mileage Upgrade Award costs 3 times more than the Upgrade with Miles option (which would only cost 6k in miles, if ticket had not yet been purchased)
Given how crazy the Mileage Upgrade Award option is, it made me wonder if anyone had recently upgraded for an Mileage Upgrade Award where the numbers made a little more sense.
Have you upgraded using Delta mileage upgrade award recently?