Yesterday Delta announced effective immediately, award bookings for travel June 1 onward may have new prices only Delta won’t tell us what those prices are.
Delta also announced that upgrade prices are going up for June 1 travel onward, but more fares will be eligible. They wouldn’t tell us what the Delta upgrade with miles prices would be.
More Fares Eligible for Upgrade
To date, Delta has been the most restrictive in permitting the use of upgrades.
For international travel you had to use buy nearly full fare “M” tickets in order to use miles to upgrade. And of course if you wound up waitlisting for the upgrade, and not clearly, you could be spending an extra four figure amount to sit in coach. For domestic travel you had to buy a K fare or higher.
It’s a lottery ticket, and you don’t get back the extra price paid for the privilege of getting lucky.
For June 1 travel and beyond, you’ll be eligible to use miles on Delta coded and operated flights:
- Intra-North America and North America-Northern South America (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia): Y, B, M, S, H, Q, K, L, U, and T fares.
- All other international: Y, B, M, S, H, Q, and K fares.
For Air France/KLM flights, you’ll still need to buy Y, B, or M fares. And since that’s a one-cabin upgrade, full fare coach only gets you into premium economy (where offered) on Air France.
No More Complimentary Upgrades New York JFK – Los Angeles/San Francisco
Delta announced yesterday that starting July 21, in addition to “Global Upgrade Certificates” that Diamond Medallions have access to “Regional Upgrade Certificates” (a choice benefit for Platinums) can be used to confirm upgrades on New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco flights.
Delta completely eliminated complimentary domestic upgrades on these flights a year and a half ago.
Then last summer began offering them complimentary on departure as an unpublished benefit.
According to Points, Miles & Martinis Delta is eliminating these complimentary upgrades on premium transcon routes effective August 1.
Upgrades will only be available when supported by certificates.
Delta Upgrade With Miles Pricing Has Gone Bat Crazy
Delta wouldn’t tell us what the new upgrade prices they were announcing are, but per Delta Points here’s what to expect for one-way upgrades:
Domestic (except New York – Los Angeles/San Francisco and Hawaii routes)
- Y/B/M Fares: 15,000 miles
- S/H/Q/K Fares: 20,000 miles
- L/U/T Fares: 30,000 miles
- Y/B/M Fares: 60,000 miles
- S/H/Q/K Fares: 80,000 miles
- Y/B/M Fares: 60,000 miles
- S/H/Q/K: 80,000 miles
US-South Asia, Micronesia, Southwest Pacific
- Y/B/M Fares: 80,000 miles
- S/H/Q/K Fares: 115,000 miles
A roundtrip upgrade between the US and Southeast Asia is 230,000 miles. For 260,000 United miles you could book a free international first class (not even business..) award to Southeast Asia on airlines like ANA, Asiana, and Thai.
A Europe business class roundtrip award is supposed to be 125,000 Delta miles. Buy a full fare coach ticket for thousands of dollars (about the price of discounted business) and you’ll still spend 120,000 miles to upgrade. Buy a mid-priced coach ticket and you’ll spend 160,000 miles to upgrade — 35,000 miles more than a free award ticket!
And the cheapest coach fares still can’t even be upgraded.
Shouldn’t You Just Book a Partner Award Ticket?
If Delta were a member of oneworld or Star Alliance, I would add that not only are you paying more miles in addition to cash to upgrade compared to booking an award, but you’re also getting an inferior product compared to awards on the airline’s partners.
But since Delta manages to partner with the only Asian and European airlines that aren’t actually better than their European counterparts (e.g. Air France with still way too many angled business class seats, China Eastern and their angled seats).
So it’s not necessarily true that you’re paying cash, spending more miles than an award, and getting an inferior product. But that’s only because in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King.
If your employer is buying you a coach ticket, and they don’t pay full fare, it’s good to have the option to upgrade on some/more fares even if the prices are surreal such that your miles are valued exceptionally poorly.
And if you live in a Delta hub city or the Upper Midwest and want Delta status then having this option is worthwhile.
For anyone else, find a new airline.