Back in December Delta introduced the ability to upgrade with miles any time — from purchase leading up to travel. Your miles are worth only about a penny apiece and they charge you the difference in fare between what you bought and the price of the more premium option.
At the time, and leading up to when this was launched, I suggested that this could replace traditional mileage awards — where there are capacity controls, the airline makes seats available for upgrade they don’t expect to sell, and you pay a fixed (discounted) mileage price for those seats.
The price for those sorts of upgrade awards went crazy in mid-2015 around when the airline eliminated award charts, reducing transparency and value of their miles. In fact upgrade awards had a higher mileage cost than business class saver awards.
Now it appears those traditional upgrade awards have been eliminated from the SkyMiles program. A couple of readers mentioned to me that traditional Delta mileage upgrade awards are no longer offered, and a reservations agent tells me these were pulled on February 12.
A Delta spokesperson confirms and shares, “The introduction of post-purchase upgrades using miles via intuitive, self-service digital functionality has meant we’ve been able to vastly expand the availability of these upgrades to benefit more customers.”
No announcement has been made, and I suppose Delta doesn’t need to tell its members — since they not only eliminated award charts, they eliminated upgrade charts some time ago as well. It’s just that now the price to upgrade is usually going to be much higher since Delta CEO Ed Bastian says you spend one mile to cover one cent worth of cost towards an upgrade.