Delta Tilts Upgrade Priority to Elites, The Big Key for Traveling Together Remains

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Delta has issued a press released detailing changes to upgrade priority, effective today 4/30/16.

Delta Upgrade Priority

The big headline is that full-fare economy Y tickets no longer will trump elite status.

The criteria is now:

Upgrade Priority:

  • Medallion status level.
  • Same Medallion level tiebreakers in order of fare class, Delta Reserve card holders, corporate travelers, those spending current calendar year $25,000+ on Delta Amex cards, and finally date and time of upgrade request

The corporate angle is interesting, needing to be booked with Corporate Ticket Designator. My only experience with that was a target promo several years ago that Delta sent me , though when I checked my then employer’s deisgnator was not eligible.

The big thing when traveling together hasn’t changed.

Travelers on the same ticket are dragged to the lowest status level of the party. Delta considers this a feature that allows more solo travelers to get upgrades rather than a large family taking the whole pot. They don’t advertise this.

To partially get around this you need to have Delta ‘split the PNR’ to put the parties on separate reservations which allows each to upgrade on their own, if you don’t mind splitting the party. This is how my wife ends up front and me in back when I get upgraded and she takes the seat.

The risk is things get complicated and in case of irregular operations, Delta systems no longer protect everyone together and at the same priority. I usually only split the PNR right before upgrade window starts.

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