How To Upgrade to Business/First Class on Delta Air Lines Flights

Delta One passengers talking

We may be compensated when you click on links from one or more of our advertising partners. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone. Terms apply to offers below. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details.

The days of getting upgraded just for dressing sharply or being kind to the gate agent are all but history. Airlines now have strict guidelines to ensure that upgrades are allocated to their top customers or sold prior to departure.

Some airline upgrade policies can be complicated, but Delta Air Lines goes a step further and adds a level of secrecy to the upgrade process.

The airline does not publish upgrade availability or allow third-party access to this information. You are allowed to purchase or use miles to upgrade at booking or on an existing reservation, if available, but the pricing can sometimes be prohibitive.

When it comes to securing that coveted upgraded seat, knowledge can be power, and understanding how the process works can certainly gain you leverage when trying to secure an upgraded seat with Delta.

Our guide covers the types of upgrades available with Delta, how the upgrade process works, the value of having a Delta-branded credit card, and tips for increasing your chances for an upgrade on your next Delta flight.

Types of Delta Upgrades

Delta offers many options for upgrades including upgrading with miles, complimentary upgrades for Medallion Elite members, companion upgrades, and the ability to purchase upgrades, when available.

  • Complimentary Upgrades: Available for Medallion Elites to Comfort+ or first class where those products are available, and Delta One (business class) for travel on most routes within the 50 United States.
  • Global Upgrade Certificates: Available to Diamond Medallion Elite members to upgrade domestic, regional, or international flights on Delta and select partner airlines.
  • Regional Upgrade Certificates: Available to Platinum and Diamond Medallion Elite members to upgrade domestic and select regional Delta flights.
  • Upgrade With Miles: You can purchase upgrades on select flights within the 50 United States with miles during booking.
  • Mileage Upgrade Awards: Upgrades available for purchase with miles on existing reservations for select flights worldwide. International upgrades are limited to fare classes Y, B, M, H, Q, or K.
  • Complimentary Companion Upgrades: Available for passengers traveling on the same reservation as Medallion Elite members.
  • Same-Day Standby Upgrades: Based on availability, these upgrades are available to all passengers for a fee on the day of departure for specific flight routes mostly in North America, the Caribbean, and Cancún.

How To Find Out if Upgrade Space Is Available

Upgrade on Delta
You can now potentially find space to utilize a Global Upgrade Certificate when booking a flight. Image Credit: Delta

Other than the recently-added ability to find upgrade space utilizing Global Upgrade Certificates, Delta does not publish upgrade availability and does not release the information for third-party publishing. Further limitations include not being able to view availability for seats in any class of service on your reservation other than your own.

For example, if you have a reservation and you’re assigned a Comfort+ seat, you may only be able to view that seating section of the plane when you view your reservation. You may not be able to view first, business, or Main Cabin seating.

The workaround for this restriction is to try a dummy booking for the class of service you wish to view, then count the available seats in the section where you want to upgrade. A dummy booking is not the most accurate accounting but is a relatively easy way to compare available seating between different flights.

Searching for an award ticket may also help you determine if there is upgrade space available, as there can be parallel availability. For example, if you do a search for a business class award ticket and there are seats available, there is a similar chance an upgrade is available, but not always.

You can also call Delta to determine upgrade availability space.

CWSI publishes a helpful Delta fare class information chart that you can access on its website.

Upgrade Priority: Who Gets the Upgrade First?

Delta Air Lines, like other airlines, has an upgrade hierarchy that determines who is first in line for the next upgrade. Upgrades are allocated based on the following criteria in order of highest priority:

  • Medallion Elite status
  • Fare class
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Cardmembers
  • Delta corporate travelers
  • Delta SkyMiles credit cardholders who have met the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) Waiver in the current calendar year.
    • Spending $25,000 on an eligible credit card waives this requirement for elite levels up to Platinum
    • Spending $250,000 waives the revenue requirement for Diamond Medallion Elite status
  • Date and time of upgrade request (the tiebreaker)

Determine where you might fall in the upgrade hierarchy with Delta using this helpful Medallion Upgrade Priority Calculator from CWSI.

The Importance of Delta Medallion Elite Status

Delta Premium Select
Delta elite status can help you secure more comfortable seating on your Delta flight. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Delta Medallion Elite status is the single most powerful factor in getting upgrading on Delta Air Lines. Delta has several tiers of Medallion Elite status:

  • Delta 360: Top invitation-only status granted at Delta’s discretion
  • Diamond Medallion: Unlimited upgrades that begin clearing 5 days prior to departure
  • Platinum Medallion: Unlimited upgrades begin clearing 5 days prior to departure
  • Gold Medallion: Unlimited upgrades begin clearing 3 days prior to departure
  • Silver Medallion: Unlimited upgrades begin clearing 1 day prior to departure

If these complimentary upgrades do not clear in advance, Medallion members can be added to the standby list at check-in and cleared for upgrades up until departure.

Complimentary upgrades are valid for Comfort+, Delta One domestic flights, and first class on Delta. There are no international complimentary upgrades except for select regional international flights with Delta/Aeromexico. Complimentary upgrades are available on Aeromexico for Medallion members on all Aeromexico flights within Mexico, between Mexico and the U.S., and between Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean, Colombia, and Ecuador.

Medallion members receive priority boarding and seating on many international routes and with most partner airlines.

In addition to complimentary upgrades, Delta Diamond and Platinum Medallion members can earn annual Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates to redeem on International and Regional flights.

Medallion members who purchase a full Y economy fare are also eligible for instant upgrades if available.

The Value of a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

Having an eligible Delta-branded American Express credit card delivers flight benefits such as improving you and your travel companion’s chances for an upgrade, providing you with companion flight certificates that are also eligible for upgrades, complimentary or discounted lounge access, reaching Medallion Elite status faster, or offering flight benefits including free checked bags on Delta flights and priority boarding.

The following Delta-branded cards provide all of these benefits and more.

To learn more about how to achieve Delta elite status, this comprehensive article walks you through the details. You can also learn more about which cards are best for Delta flyers in this overview that includes more than just Delta-branded cards.

Hot Tip: The best Delta-branded credit cards for increasing your chances for an upgrade on Delta flights are the Delta Reserve Business card and the Delta Reserve card.

Upgrading With Miles

Upgrade with miles Delta
When booking a ticket, or viewing an existing reservation, you may have the option to upgrade with miles. Image Credit: Delta

It is possible to upgrade your domestic flight with miles during the booking process and on an existing reservation for domestic, regional, and international flights.

How To Upgrade With Miles When Purchasing a Ticket

The Upgrade with Miles option may be available when booking a Delta or Delta Connection flight within the 50 United States.

Log in to your account on to book your flight, then select a Main Cabin ticket. You will be given the cash price of upgrading your reservation and the option to upgrade with miles at the value of 1 cent per mile. For example, if the cost to upgrade is $450, you have the option to use 45,000 miles.

The pricing will be displayed, and you can decide whether the offer is of good value. In many cases, it’s not.

How To Upgrade an Existing Reservation With Miles

You may have the option to upgrade your existing reservation with a Mileage Upgrade Award. When you log in to your account and view your trip, the option to upgrade with miles may be displayed.

If you cannot upgrade online you will need to contact a SkyMiles representative. The representative will let you know if the reservation is eligible for a Mileage Upgrade Award and provide you with pricing.

Miles are deducted from your account if the upgrade can be confirmed.

Upgrades are limited to certain fare classes depending on the route. For North America and Central America, eligible fare classes for Mileage Upgrade Awards include Y, B, M, H, Q, K, L, U, and T. For international flights, eligible fare classes include Y, B, M, H, Q, and K.

Upgrading on Partner Airlines

air france business class seats
Use Delta SkyMiles to upgrade your Air France flight. Image Credit: Air France

It is possible to use a Mileage Upgrade Award on an existing reservation that includes Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM, or Aeromexico-operated flights, basically upgrading with miles.

Fare classes and routes can be limited, pricing may be prohibitive, and in some cases, flights are restricted to only Delta-marketed flights.

You will need to contact a SkyMiles representative to find out if your flight is eligible, receive pricing information, and confirm the Mileage Upgrade Award.

You can access Delta’s website for terms and conditions and available routes for partner Mileage Upgrade Awards.

Companion Upgrades

Delta does a nice job of including companions in the upgrade process. If a Medallion member is traveling with a companion, the companion upgrade will receive the same status priority as the Medallion member.

For example, if a Diamond Medallion member is traveling with a companion on the same reservation, the companion will be elevated to Diamond-level priority when it comes to upgrades, regardless of whether the companion has status. However, the companion must be a SkyMiles member and must request the upgrade.

Companion upgrades are available on paid tickets, award tickets, miles and cash tickets, and Pay with Miles tickets.

Hot Tip: Free Companion Certificates are awarded each year on Delta-branded credit cards such as the Delta Reserve card, the Delta Platinum card, and the business version of these cards. These companion certificate flights are eligible for upgrades for the cardholder and companion, making these certificates even more valuable. 

A Dozen Ways To Secure an Upgrade or Increase Your Chances of an Upgrade With Delta

Compare Fares Delta
Always compare pricing on Delta’s website. You may discover some surprising results on select routes. Image Credit: Delta

With Delta SkyMiles Medallion Elite Status

  1. Achieve Delta Diamond Medallion Elite status to earn Global Upgrade Certificates and Regional Upgrade Certificates.
  2. Achieve Delta Platinum Medallion Elite status to earn Regional Upgrade Certificates.
  3. Check discounted business, first, and Premium Select prices before using upgrade certificates. Business class pricing is an especially good value on partner airlines such as China Eastern to Asia and Aeromexico to South America. Premium Select fares on Delta from hubs including Detroit (DTW) can be a good value and also elevate the chances of your Global Upgrade Certificate clearing should you choose to use one.
  4. You can increase your chances of getting upgraded by being a Delta Reserve cardholder.
  5. If you hold the Delta Platinum card, the Delta Platinum Business card, the Delta Reserve card, or the Delta Reserve Business card, you can increase your chances of an upgrade by meeting the Medallion Qualification Dollars Waiver as early in the year as possible.
  6. As a Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion member, you have the fee-free opportunity to same-day confirm (SDC) to a different flight. If an alternative flight with a higher number of first class seats is available, you may be able to increase your chances of a complimentary upgrade. Silver Medallion members must pay the $75 SDC fee.
  7. Increase your chances of a domestic complimentary upgrade by selecting a plane with the largest number of business or first class seats. For example, models of the A319 have only 12 first class seats, while an A321 can have 20 first class seats. Review Delta’s fleet of aircraft to compare plane capacities.

Without Delta SkyMiles Medallion Elite Status

While there are few ways to secure an upgrade on a Delta flight without Medallion Elite status, opportunities do exist.

  1. Purchase a Comfort+ Upgrade during booking or anytime up until 3 hours before departure.
  2. Use miles to purchase a business or first class flight or use miles to upgrade an existing flight if the pricing is good value.
  3. Check discounted business, first, and Premium Select prices (available on certain Delta routes), as this pricing can be a better value than using miles to upgrade, especially on partner airlines such as China Eastern to Asia and Aeromexico to South America.
  4. Purchase a discounted upgrade to first class at check-in. Be aware that upgrades may be available for purchase when you check-in for your flight and pricing can be at a significant discount. These same-day standby upgrades are available in limited markets.
  5. Offer to give up your economy seat when a flight is oversold in exchange for an upgraded seat on the next available flight (plus a flight voucher or gift card). You’ll usually have to ask for the upgrade, but you’ll be in a perfect position for it to be granted.

Final Thoughts

If flying in a premium cabin is your preference, watch for upgrade purchase opportunities at check-in, use miles to upgrade when the value is there, or try to select aircraft with larger premium cabins.

If you want to ensure you’ll be flying in a premium cabin, it may be valuable to seek out and compare discounted business class on Delta and other SkyTeam partner airlines or use miles to purchase Premium Select or business class fares.

Frequently asked questions

Will I earn miles when flying on an Upgrade with Miles ticket?

Yes, you will earn elite qualification miles, redeemable miles, and elite qualification segments on an Upgrade with Miles ticket.

The mileage credit you earn will be based on the price of the ticket purchased, which includes the base fare plus surcharges.

What is the difference between economy class and Comfort+?

The differences between economy and Comfort+ are many and include extra legroom and the fact that you are closer to the front of the plane than the economy section. You’ll also receive priority boarding and dedicated overhead space.

Another key difference is that you may receive free snacks, cocktails, blankets, pillows, headsets, and amenity kits on long-haul flights.

Is having a Delta credit card worth it?

A Delta-branded credit card is worth it if you use the benefits each card offers.

If you frequently fly Delta Air Lines, having a Delta credit card will provide value. The first free checked bag for you and your traveling companions alone can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

The additional perk of the free companion flight certificate you receive at card renewal on the Delta Platinum card and the Delta Reserve card can also save you hundreds of dollars.

How many miles does it take to upgrade a Delta flight to first class?

The price to upgrade a flight with miles varies drastically by route, and since there are no pricing charts published, you’ll have to look at each ticket individually when booking or call Delta for pricing on an existing reservation.

The domestic ticket example we used in this article shows 31,400 miles each way to upgrade, but you may be able to purchase a first class flight with miles for less.

What is Premium Select and can I get an upgrade to it?

Premium Select is a special seating product offered by Delta Air Lines on select international routes.

Premium Select seats have their own cabin and offer a higher level of service than Main Cabin, as there are dedicated flight attendants. Elevated service can include receiving a menu, be served meals on a plate, and receiving a small amenity kit.

The seat is wider and has an additional recline over a domestic Comfort+ seat, plus it has an adjustable footrest.

Complimentary upgrades are not available for Premium Select.

What is a same-day standby upgrade?

A same-day standby upgrade is an upgrade that is available on the day of departure. For a fee, any passenger can upgrade their eligible flight if space is available. You may see this option at check-in or you can ask about it at the departure gate.

Same-day standby upgrades are available between select markets in North America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Can I upgrade my basic economy ticket?

Unfortunately, tickets that are purchased in Delta’s basic economy fare class are not eligible for any type of upgrade, regardless of whether you have status.

These fares are discounted heavily and do not allow advanced seat selection, changes to the ticket, or paid priority boarding.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

Travel prices are about to surge from pent-up demand.

Use this points strategy to lock in pennies-on-the-dollar pricing in 2021, all without being a frequent flyer...

How do I only pay $30 to go to Hawaii, $200 for business class to Asia or just $150 to Europe?

Discover the real-life strategies that anyone can use to enjoy limitless travel (even on a limited budget!)

Just sign up below and I’ll send you the Limitless Travel Playbook instantly:

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. You left out the most important tip: Don’t bother with any of this if you live in a hub. In ATL, very few platinums get free upgrades because there are tens of thousands (or more?) of diamonds here. I used to try to get up to gold, but it’s not worth anything, so I no longer bother. Whoever has the best rate gets my biz.


    • Scoring an upgrade in a hub market can be challenging for sure but it sounds like you’ve moved on and are making things work for you as a free agent. Thanks for reading.


  2. Royalty Yachts July 9, 2018

    Thanks for doing all the research for a very informative article. It is a great help!


  3. Very nice article with a ton of useful information. Thanks for referring us too!


  4. Can you explain more of what this means? “Medallion status upgrades (personal credit card only).” Does it mean the card can upgrade your medallion status? Or just that if you have the card you may get a seat upgrade because the card helps you toward medallion status?


    • Hello and thanks for your question. Upgrades are allocated according to a hierarchy. Medallion Elite status has top priority, then fare class, then Delta Reserve Credit Card members. Having the personal Delta Reserve credit card elevates your chances for a seat upgrade, but the business version of the card does not. Just having the card does not affect your Medallion Elite status or help you towards Medallion Elite status.
      The order for granting upgrades is as follows:
      Medallion Elite status
      Fare class
      Delta Reserve Credit Card members (personal version)
      Delta corporate travelers
      Delta SkyMiles® credit card holders who have met the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) Waiver in the current calendar year.


  5. Randy Cameron December 10, 2018

    Hi Christine

    Are you aware of anyone (travel agent or private individual) that can take into account all of my information? Medallion status credit cards etc..

    Thank you



    • Hello Randy! I am not sure I understand your question. Upgrades are given out directly by the airline based on their criteria. The airline would have access to your account information, status, credit card information, etc. I am not sure what you mean by an individual or travel agent taking into account your information.


  6. Any difference on getting upgraded to 1st on Delta if you initially purchased non-basic economy or comfort?


    • Hi Mike and thanks for your question. Purchasing a higher fare class such as Comfort+ will increase your chances for a complimentary domestic upgrade over lower fare classes. However, the hierarchy for receiving upgrades still applies and the highest elite statuses receive upgrades first.


  7. The other note, you can get free Platinum status with the Centurion card.


    • While not an option for most people, (the card is available to high net worth individuals via invitation) the exclusive card does come with Delta Platinum status. Thank you so much for the reminder.


  8. Hi – I don’t think my question is covered above but this relates to complimentary upgrades as Gold Medallion when connecting from Europe. The route I am looking at is DUB-BOS-SLC-SNA.

    I know that international upgrades to First / Delta One are not offered – I am asking about the domestic sectors.

    I am seeing that I am not upgrade eligible to first on DUB-BOS-SLC-SNA. However, if I just try a dummy booking for BOS-SLC-SNA, it shows that I am upgrade eligible to first for both flights.

    Why does having the DUB-BOS sector added on mean that I am no longer eligible for the two domestic sectors? This doesn’t make sense?? Does Delta really consider the whole ticket ‘international’ even though it includes two domestic flights?

    In the past I have been upgraded to First when connecting from Europe (e.g. LGW-LAS on Virgin, and then upgraded to first for the LGW-SNA flight).



    • Hi Phillip. You should be eligible for upgrades on the domestic segments. You do not say if your ticket is marketed by Delta or another Sky Team carrier. However, my first thought is to access your trip details on, scroll to the “Upgrade Request” section and check to see if perhaps upgrades were not requested and the box is not checked to request them. If the section shows “not eligible for upgrade” for the domestic segments, just give Delta a quick call. I have had this happen when I looked for a fare on Google Flights, then used the link from Google Flights to go to to purchase the ticket and the upgrade requests did not get applied.


  9. Hi Christine,

    As a Silver Medallion member, what happens if you request an upgrade for both Delta Comfort or First Class? Does this mean that if you are given the upgrade to Comfort, then you are not eligible anymore for First Class? Would it be better to aim to first class at the beginning and not applying for Delta Comfort?



    • Hello LCNB. As a Medallion member requesting an upgrade, you are immediately put on the wait list for both types of upgrades. If Comfort Plus clears, you will still be on the wait list for First Class. Thanks for the question.


  10. I am unable to see seating in other cabins and upgrade availability on my existing reservation.


    • You are correct, Tony. The work around is to do a dummy booking for your exact flights and you will be able to see the entire seat map. Quirky, I know. Once you check in for your flight, of course, you will be able to view the upgrade list.


  11. Hello!
    Great website!
    I am booked into an Economy Comfort bulkhead aisle seat from PDX to AMS. However, it is a full row (gasp).
    The asking price to move up to Delta One is 799.00 or 79,000 miles one-way.
    I am seriously conisdering it. There are only 6 seats left in Delta One and only 12 days before the flite.
    My questions are:
    1. Am I nuts to pay 799 for a one-way grade on a 10.5 hour flite
    —of course there is the Sky Lounge to think about too. My original economy comfort ticket is about 1,600.00.
    —I am also a Delta Platinum Med member with a Delta Plat Skymiles card, so I will be earning something on the 799.
    2. Do you know if the price of these first class upgrades ever go down at check-in? (It is a gamble, I know!)
    Thank you for any advice!


    • Hi KC. The price one is willing to pay for an upgrade is such a personal preference. I personally would not pay it because I can fit comfortable in a bulkhead seat and can sleep well sitting upright, but not everyone can say the same. If I had an important meeting to attend when I arrived, however, I would pay it. So, let’s ponder this. You’re looking at a total of $2400 for a round trip ticket with a Delta One upgrade, one way, not horrible. With 6 Delta One seats left and 12 days left, I would doubt the price will go down. I am sorry I cannot provide further guidance and I wish you luck in your decision. I have had to make similar decisions. Thank you for reading, KC.


  12. I am a Delta Platinum and travel internationally quite often. On a few occasions I have been upgraded to Delta One on flights to and from Amsterdam and Milan. I have also noticed that on almost every flight there are quite a few open seats up until 30 minutes before boarding and all of a sudden Delta One is full. I have even seen flight attendants go to someone’s seat and offer them to move up to Delta One. So the question is…..Delta states that they do not give upgrades on international flights, yet they do it all the time, so how is this process being managed?


    • Hi John. My take on this, based on years of being Delta Diamond, is that GUC (Global Upgrade Certificates) are being used in most cases. I have been on the upgrade list and had the gate agent come on board and tell me my upgrade had cleared at the last moment. Also, you can purchase an upgrade and Delta One seats are often left open to see if anyone takes advantage of purchasing a last minute upgrade. The other situation, and it sounds like you’ve experienced this, is that the back of the plane is oversold and they’ll upgrade Diamonds, then Platinum, and so forth until enough seats are open in back to accommodate confirmed passengers.


  13. Rosemarie Madieros August 10, 2019

    I just have a very basic question. My fiance and I are flying from Boston to Orlando. We are in main cabin seats and I’m considering going up to Delta comfort seats. I just want to know if the price is round trip or one way per person.


    • Hi Rosemarie. The price quoted for an upgraded seat is normally by flight segment. If you have two flights on an itinerary, for example, each will be priced separately. When you open your reservation on and there is an upgrade available, it will be very clear as to which flight is offering the upgrade. It will state the departure airport, arrival airport, seat description, and the price.


  14. Hi Christine. Great article and thank you for the information. Question related to booking a Delta flight with hopes for an upgrade. I usually book via AMEX Platinum to get the 5x points. However should I book via the Delta Reserve Card if I want to increase my upgrade chances for an International flight?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Jeremy,

      Booking a flight with the Delta Reserve card will not improve your chances at being upgraded. We recommend you use whichever card will offer you the most value for your spending. In this case, that would be your Amex Platinum card.

      Thanks for reading!


  15. Any thoughts about the fact it’s just about impossible to upgrade using miles on an international flight with Delta? I know the theory is it’s possible but in practice it just doesn’t seem to happen. My last experience, which is typical, was a business ticket “Y” fare booked about a month in advance. At that time 18 seats in J were available but no upgrade inventory available. I wait listed for the upgrade (using miles) and then waited. Day prior to the flight there were still 6 seats in J available but they were not released. And, then I checked in because I was headed to the airport.But miles upgrades don’t transfer to the airport wait list. Ultimately they put 5 non revs in Delta One and flew one seat empty. This is fairly typical of my experience over the last couple of years. Hard to justify any loyalty to Delta when the only frequent flyers that seem to matter are the Delta 360 members, the Diamonds, and the friends and family non revs.


    • Hi Nate. I can understand your frustration. If there are no mileage upgrades available when you purchase your ticket and you have to be put on the wait list, you are then dealing with an upgrade hierarchy that highly favors those with status. There is also the element of Delta IT which does have its anomalies. The only advice I can offer (and it’s not much) is to check your reservation often for upgrade offers, check in with the gate agent to confirm you’re on the wait list and to let them know you are present and waiting for an upgrade.


  16. Hi,
    I am Gold Medallion and I recently purchased a full Y fare flight in economy from SAN to DTW. Per this and a few other websites I was led to believe this would automatically upgrade to first class if “O” seats were still available. 3 days before the flight this did not clear and I called Delta who claimed the Full Y to upgrade does not exist. Is the website out of date? How does this work?


    • Hello JJ. Thank you for the question; that experience must have been frustrating. Although I found numerous references (as you mentioned) to substantiate that the practice still exists, I’ve determined that Delta has now eliminated this option. It is still correct that the higher the fare class, the greater your chance of receiving an upgrade. If you are put on the waitlist, however, you will also be subject to the hierarchy of Medallion elites attempting to use an upgrade certificate or those with higher status who have purchased a Y fare. Their upgrades will clear before yours. While the option was available when this article was written, I have confirmed that Delta no longer has the verbiage on their website that a full Y fare purchased by a Medallion Elite receives an immediate upgrade. Thanks for taking the time to post your experience.


  17. Is there a timeframe of when Delta discounts it’s pay-to-upgrade seats? I’m booked economy on JFK to MCO and saw a couple months ago it said upgrade to first class for something like $145 each way and now months later it’s down to $119 each way. I still have 1 more month before I travel. I still have my Amex airline credits to use, but should I wait until closer to departure for it to be even cheaper or buy the upgrade now? (I don’t have delta status)


    • Hi Kat. There is no way to tell what the price of upgrading will be. It could go up, or down, and even differ between passengers. As seats sell out, the offer could certainly go up. $119 does not seem unreasonable and since you’re using incidental credits, you really can’t go wrong by securing it now if it is important to you.


  18. I am Silver medallion. Do you think that purchasing comfort + will increase my chances of getting upgraded to first class? I.e. will I only be competing against those in comfort + for the upgrade to first or also with those in basic economy (1 Vs 2 seat upgrades)?


    • Hi Rob. Purchasing a higher fare class does increase your chances for an upgrade. You will not be competing with basic economy travelers as basic economy fares are not eligible to receive complimentary upgrades or purchase upgrades, regardless of Medallion status. You will be competing with Medallion travelers who have higher status or those who have purchased a higher fare class. Purchasing Comfort Plus could make sense for a more comfortable journey and for a chance at the upgrade. I would also watch for upgrade offers that show up in your reservation. Thanks for reading.


  19. When talking about the eligible Delta tickets, you should include Premium Select. Delta tickets booked in P, A, or G are also eligible for upgrades to business, and actually at a reduced – more affordable – rate! You are correct though that Y/B/M/H/Q/K are the only Economy letters eligible, whereas Y/B/M are one price level, and H/Q/K are a second higher level. But believe it or not Premium Economy booked tickets (P/A/G) are usually at a cheaper upgrade mileage rate than Y/B/M.


  20. My wife and I are going to South Africa early next year out of Dallas. We would like to take the nonstop Delta flight from Atlanta to JNB but would like to fly in Delta One. Is there any chart/way to know how many miles/points it would take to upgrade from one of the other class seats? We typically fly American or Southwest but my wife does have a lot of Delta miles.


    • Hello Blake. That sounds like a wonderful journey. Unfortunately, Delta does not publish a chart for upgrading with miles. The amount of miles needed will depend on the class of service you purchase, with lower main cabin fares costing more to upgrade that Premium Select. Since Premium Select can cost just a few hundred dollars more than Comfort Plus, this may be a good strategy depending on the numbers.
      If a flight is upgradeable with miles, you will see the offer during the booking process. You can also call and find out the cost. Mileage Upgrade Awards can be available after booking as well and will show up in your reservation.


  21. sheree taillon February 12, 2020

    Honeymooning to Greece from US. A couple of questions concerning upgrading with miles: 1) when will I see the availability? 2)any idea how many miles I will need for the separate legs? 3) what can I do ahead of time to be on the list? The trip is 100 days away now.


    • First, congratulations Sheree, Greece is an excellent honeymoon destination. Regarding upgrading your trip with miles, I would first check your reservation for upgrade offers. You can do this by logging in to your Delta SkyMiles account and if upgrades are available you may see the offers in your reservation. Pricing is variable depending on route and on the fare class you purchased. Also, there is no published chart that tells us how much it will be. You can also call in and speak with a Delta rep as well.


  22. sheree taillon February 12, 2020

    Purchased a V fare, is there no upgrade available? Is there a work around for an international flight?


    • A V fare is not an upgradeable fare. However, you could call and ask how much it would be to change your ticket to a higher fare class that is upgradable. It’s usually expensive but I would give Delta a call and ask.


  23. Hi Christine,

    I have a companion ticket available as an AMEX Platinum holder. I would like to use this for my husband. He is a Platinum Medallion member but I do not have Medallion status. What I’m wondering is, can we upgrade to Delta Comfort even though I’m the one with the companion ticket and he’s the one that’s the Medallion member with status?


    • Hi Julie. According to the terms and conditions, it should work: “Companion Certificates are eligible for Medallion Complimentary Upgrades, which are subject to availability and may not be eligible on all flights. Medallion Members traveling with one companion will be eligible for Complimentary Upgrades to both First Class and Delta Comfort+® based on the status of the higher-tiered Member, as long as the companion is a SkyMiles Member, Medallion Member or partner airline elite member, traveling in the same reservation.” Another option, since the companion ticket that comes with the Delta Platinum Amex card is transferrable, you could consider transferring the companion ticket to him and have him purchase the ticket.


      • Hi Christine,
        They now have Basic flights, you don’t get to pick a seat, have you any idea what kind of seats they give you? Also, if you purchase a round trip Basic, can you get bumped or is your flight still secure?


  24. This article is great, and even more impressive is the detailed responses to all comments and questions! I did want to note I noticed that it seems the Gold Amex can no longer be used to gain access to the SkyClub, at least according to Delta’s site (


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.