Delta one Suites Cabin

We’re not pointing any fingers…

Writing about flight upgrades is like Lynyrd Skynyrd playing “Free Bird”. People love Free Bird and travelers adore upgrades. The reason travelers are so glued to any and all upgrade stories, even ones that are utterly false, is that upgrades are quite a mysterious thing. It’s hard to know when they’re available, how to get them or if you can use points in the process. Delta has now changed that, and if you believe in signs of the times, others will be following shortly…

a plane flying in the skyArbitrage Versus Ease

As a quick aside, there’s a tug-o-war in the points game. The savviest players love arbitrage opportunities where a small number of points can be leveraged for extreme luxury experiences. For example, at one point, 100,000 Delta miles could unlock round trip business class to the far reaches of the world. The problem with this? You need to be a real expert to begin to understand the “how” part. On the other side, you have the general public who want to collect points and use them when they want to. It makes sense! Red tape sucks, and people should be able to use their points when they want to.

a woman sleeping in an airplaneDelta’s New Upgrades Using Skymiles

If you have a Delta booking that can be upgraded, you’ll know instantly. There will be a banner displayed on your booking at, which will tell you exactly how many miles you need to upgrade to comfort or the next cabin. If it can be upgraded, a banner will be there. If it can’t be upgraded, it won’t be there. It’s that simple. There’s no arbitrage or guess work. If an upgrade is offered for $500 in cash, it will also be offered for 50,000 Delta Skymiles points. If it’s offered for $50, it’ll be offered for 5,000 Delta Skymiles points. Delta is affixing a 1 cent per point value to your miles and based on that, you can use them to upgrade with ease. It’s not what they were once worth, but it’s easy to understand. The functionality will roll into the Delta mobile app in 2019.

a row of seats in an airplaneHow To Upgrade Delta Flights Using Skymiles In 2018

Delta has spelled out exactly how to upgrade your flights using points and it’s really easy. To be clear, you can upgrade your flights after you’ve booked. To upgrade with Delta using Skymiles, you simply…

  1. Find your reservation in My Trips at
  2. If an upgrade with miles is available for your flight, you’ll see a banner above your flight information showing the price to upgrade
  3. Select the button next to the price in miles
  4. Click ‘Select Seats’ to be taken to the seat map and confirm your upgrade

a row of seats in an airplaneImportant Upgrade Notes

It’s important to note that paid premium economy and business class fares are falling, and it may be more logical to just pay for the upgrade or higher cabin from the get go than to cash in Delta Skymiles points. At the same time, for those who earn more points than they know how to spend, this is a really friendly and easy way to upgrade yourself on virtually any flight, without any expert flyer nerd knowledge. You don’t need to know about fare codes, yields, how availability works or where to look for it or call in- you just get a number in points and take it or leave it. The longer the flight or snazzier the upgrade, the more points you can bank on spending. All in all, it’s a win.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I have to disagree with you on the win-win part. There’s no question that this a giant win for Delta. It’s also a win for some customers. The problem is that the customers that “win” do so at the expense of the very best customers. As a business owner, making things worse for my best customers doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. Then there’s the fact that you’re getting at best one cent per Skymile, which is pretty awful even by Skymiles standards.

  2. Thanks for announcing the new “feature.” Delta is the airline I hate to love, but this does seem to be another example of making their booking engine easier for me (and other delta dopes) to use.

    I now show an upgrade from scum to scum+ of $44.02 USD or 4,100 miles, making the miles worth some fraction better than a penny. Is that a tax thing? or are they just being generous to me?

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