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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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  • Milagros A. Montalvo

    Why when I am trying to get a supousely good deal ticket, they put in the screan, that it is sold or that they are sorry, but this does not happen too often,but in reality, yes this happen all the time to me, and I have to buy more expensive ticket?

  • jayess99

    it really makes no sense when you consider that you can buy miles for $.028/mile. That’s $460!! Hell of a discount to their scheming BS.

  • don

    I can never under estimate the most generous airline of all times DELTA
    Wow the chance to upgrade from Full Fare Coach.I thought Santa only visted at Christmas once a year
    Let me cancel all my British Airways flights in business class now :)

  • Kim Chambers

    My husband and I are flying business class for right around $1500 roundtrip from MIA-LHR in October on delta- no certificates or upgrades needed. We have been using this routing then buying short distance coach tickets to where we need to go in Europe. Delta ran a promotion from MIA and also BOS

  • DOT

    delta is always more for upgrades and miles business class last year i wanted to do miles business to france from atl it was quoted to me 275,000 per person REALLY OUTRAGEOUS FOR BUSINESS CLASS

  • M

    Perhaps this promotion is aimed not at leisure travelers, but business travelers (such as myself) who do fly on Y fares anyway.

  • MORT


  • Downgraded in Duluth

    The story is not completely accurate. Although it is unfortunate, you CANNOT upgrade to Business class from the “cheaper coach” quoted in this story on Delta. You CAN’T purchase the cheapest coach and pay 25K miles each way to upgrade to biz.

    If you want to fly Business class international on Delta, you have two options:
    1) Pay the higher coach tickets and use miles to upgrade (which does make this a good deal, if you want to do this), OR
    2) Use miles for the entire business class ticket (which as other posters have noted, if VERY difficult to get at the cheaper frequent flyer rates on Delta … I back up what DOT said, I was able to use miles for a special “around the world” ticket in Biz class on Delta for FEWER miles than flying to Asia and back in biz on Delta)

    So, is this a deal? The answer is unfortunately “yes” … but the fact this is a “deal” at all points out HUGE holes and problems with Delta’s international upgrade with miles rules.

  • yoyoma

    delta is the worst. saw the ad, called delta for a trip from north america to tokyo for upgrade to biz class and the price of the ticket was $6000 in addition to the miles. as i was talking with the delta rep on the phone, expedia had the same route and dates biz class for $3000 of course without using miles. Told the rep and she said “well they buy bulk tickets and can offer lower prices”… seriously?? SCAM SCAM SCAM

  • jayess99

    delta is full of scams. Everything they send me is BS, not even worth reading. They’ve got this skymiles opportunities thing that, when you rate some things they sponsor, they will give you free skymiles. Geez, I think I’ve earned about 100 free miles, really great when you consider that it takes about 200,000 miles for an int’l ticket. Like I said, not worth the effort.

  • William O. Beeman

    Here is the absurd part of this. The M, Y and B class fares are virtually always higher than the posted Business Class fares on international routes. Delta also runs frequent sales on Business Class Fares. One would be a complete fool to pay a full Economy M-class fare AND mileage or a system-wide upgrade (given as a “perk” for Platinum Frequent Fliers and above) when the actual posted Business Class fare is lower. It is, in fact a huge cheat preventing Delta’s best customers from ever obtaining an international upgrade, despite their loyalty to the airline. This is another example of Delta’s abuse of its customers.