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Delta Discounts International Upgrade Awards

Delta Discounts International Upgrade Awards

When it comes to frequent flyer award discounts, Alaska and United are the industry leaders.

Delta? Not so much. In fact, they don’t even qualify as an also-ran.

This new promotion may get Delta onto the list of award discounters, but it won’t win them many new friends.

Offers Details

Through August 31, Delta SkyMiles members can redeem 50 percent fewer miles when upgrading from full coach (Y, B, or M class only) to business or BusinessElite class on Delta’s international flights.

While the offer’s landing page suggests that direct ticketing charges may be avoided by purchasing tickets on Delta’s website, it also notes that "SkyMiles members must call a Delta reservations representative for upgrades." Which means that you will have to pay the direct ticketing fee, and may as well combine the paid booking and the upgrade request in the same call.

Deal or No Deal

Common sense suggests that any discount beats paying full price. But restricting the discount to upgrades on full coach fares negates the utility of the offer for the great majority of travelers, who would never consider paying full coach.

A quick check of ticket prices for Atlanta-London flights, as an example, showed discounted coach seats priced around $1,400 each way, while full coach (which Delta calls Flexible coach) was $2,660. Upgrading from the cheaper coach fare would require 25,000 miles each way; upgrading from full coach would cost 7,500 miles with the discount. So, pay a $1,260 premium to get save 17,500 miles?

Cynics will suggest that the discount is nothing more than a transparent ploy to lure gullible travelers into paying extra for ultra-pricey unrestricted coach tickets. I suspect there’s some truth in that.

For the very small number of travelers who already plan to purchase full coach tickets, this deal might make sense. But for the great majority of Delta’s customers, this is a non-starter.

Reader Reality Check

Have you ever paid for full coach? Under what circumstances would you be willing to pay the premium for full coach?

How does this offer affect your perception of Delta?

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