Using Delta Upgrade Instruments to Upgrade to Air France Business Class

TM Travel World points out that since Delta upgrades can be used on Air France there’s a real strategic improvement that many people are missing.

Folks still need to buy nearly full fare economy tickets in order to upgrade from economy. And in general there’s much displeasure that upgrading from economy on Air France — now that Air France and KLM upgrades are now possible via the Skymiles program — only gets you premium economy.

But Troy points out that often buying premium economy is cheaper than buying full fare economy. And buying premium economy lets you upgrade to business class. So that’s sometimes the best strategy to use with Delta upgrades — discounted Air France premium economy fares to get business class on Air France, rather than buying full fare economy on Delta or on Air France. Cheaper, and (to some) a better product.

I’m not a big fan of Air France business class, when I flew it most recently a year ago I found the seats in terrible shape and among the least comfortable ‘angled flat’ I’ve experienced (almost closer to recliner style). The amenities were poor, video on demand meager, and flying to Paris the food was mediocre, the food was better on the return. Still, it’s business class and it’s transportation. And Air France business class awards and upgrades (both come from the same ‘O’ bucket which can be searched at are generally quite available from many markets, especially my own home market of Washington Dulles.

In early June the afternoon Air France Dulles flight goes to an A380, and business class award/upgrade space is wide open… So that should be a better, newer product and easy to name with purchase of premium economy tickets.

As Troy points out, you must contact “Delta agent to request upgrade. Please note: Many agents have no clue how to process them, so expect some long wait on phone”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Quote
    “Many agents have no clue how to process them, so expect some long wait on phone”

    Impossible Delta has the most highly trained seasoned professionals at your service and ready to expidite 🙂
    One hour and 30 minutes to book an anward ticket down under but who is counting when you are having fun
    Things sped up once they were able to establish they have a partnership airline to book on.

  2. Sorry to be thick but I poked around at Flightstats a bit and it wasn’t obvious how to check award availability. Anyone know of step by step instructions anywhere or care to give a guy a hand?

  3. I’m a Platinum delta member and I have used upgrades on KLM and Air France. It is true that some delta agents have no idea what they are doing. Rather simple however, you need a full fare economy to upgrade to Premium Economy. You need Premium economy, S, W, or A to upgrade to Business. Make sure the agent looks for an O class ticket for ugrading to business.

  4. be real, real careful when cross-upgrading. After using my Diamond upgrade certificates for a full economy to air france premium economy i learned the night before our family trip that the delta agent “should not have done that.”. a polite, but uncreative delta supervisor thereupon cancelled our purchased seats. this came after three calls over 6 months to see if they had processed the certs –the reservation showed fine all along.

    it took another call that night to another supervisor to get my trip back. she apologized for her colleague and put us in business class.

    notice that i checked repeatedly on confirmed seats. both supervisors told me that AF would have refused to board us on the originally purchaed seats.

    so it is now with some trepidation that i am looking for three seats to buy at full economy to upgrade with miles for an August trip to see my wife’s French family. given Delta’s fight with klm and af over upgrades we may buy Virgin.

    has this battle been resolved yet?

  5. A few points are worth repeating: 1) Simply booking a Y/B/M fare on Delta will NOT get you upgraded to Business Class on Air France, you need YBM on Delta and at least a W on Air France legs to upgrade to an O fare in Business. Air France is very tight with these seats, so if you’re a last second Diamond traveler, you can almost forget it…I just flew DTW-CDG on an A340, could not upgrade, and there were NINE empty seats in Business Class despite my best efforts and gate-charm to upgrade. My feeling is that Air France is perfectly happy to have Business Class half-empty before they deign to have a Delta passenger darken a seat up front. If you have a SkyTeam choice, I have had much better luck with KLM, which ironically, is owned by Air France. After my last flight from Delhi to CDG and DTW to CDG and my upcoming CDG to ORD, I will do EVERYTHING possible to avoid booking Air France. It’s not that they don’t care…they are flat out hostile to Delta flyers trying to upgrade. I’m Diamond and am 0 for 15 trying to upgrade on AF, and their Business Class is not up to par with other leading airlines, including Delta. Bad seats (recline, not lie-flat), poor movie choice, poor food, attitude…I am kicking myself for booking AF yet again. Won’t happen again soon.

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