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Delta System-Wide Upgrades Now Available for Use on Air France

by on October 16, 2010 · 16 comments

in Air France, Delta

As a Delta frequent flyer, you can choose an array of benefits when hitting the 75,000 and 125,000 Medallion Qualifying Mile marks. System-Wide Upgrades (SWUs) are an option, but they have always been a sore point with Delta elites because they require booking into expensive fare classes (Y,B,M) when flying internationally. Many times, these fares are more expensive than discounted business class fares, so the SWUs can sometimes be useless.

However, Delta just announced that they can be used to upgrade one class of service on Air France. You can either go from Economy to Premium Economy or Premium Economy to Business class. This is great news, because Air France has been discounting their new Premium Economy product, so upgrades to their business class (which I wrote about this summer here) can be done much cheaper than if trying to upgrade a Delta flight. For example, I did some price shopping and economy was $750, Premium Economy $1,400 and M class $2,800 from JFK-CDG. Business class and bonus miles and MQMs for $1,400 and an upgrade certificate sounds like a great deal to me.

How to do it:
1) Check to see if upgrade space is available on the flights you want to book (note- this can only be done on flights that have Premium Economy, so that unfortunately cancels out flying on the new A380 or Miami to Paris). Upgrade space comes out of the normal award ticket buckets, so there are a couple ways to check that. The easiest is if you have an expertflyer.com subscription- its a paid service, but they offer trials and discounts. You can search “Award & Upgrades” for Air France. If you want to upgrade to Premium Economy you’d need to search for Premium Economy – Classic Award (E). If you want to upgrade to business class you need to search for Business – Classic Award (O). Altenatively, you can call Delta or Air France to check for you. I find expertflyer.com to be much quicker and more accurate than calling.
2) Once you confirm that space is available, then book a qualifying fare. For Economy -> Economy Plus upgrade you need to book economy class fares Y,B or K. For Premium Economy -> Business, you need to book Premium Economy fares S,A or W.
3) Once booked, call Delta and let them know you want to use a SWU to upgrade an Air France flight. The rep should be able to process painlessly.

FYI Premium Economy fares on Air France earn 150%  Medallion Qualifying Miles, so a JFK-CDG return ticket will net roughly 11,000 MQMs- not bad considering Premium Economy tickets can sometimes be purchased for only a couple hundred bucks more than regular economy.

In all, I think this is a great enhancement to the SkyMiles program and in my experience Air France has lots of award availability – especially at the last minute, so I look forward to using this in the future.

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  • Lisa

    I just tried to upgrade my premium voyageur seats to business class on Air France through Delta and unless you have points or a certificate it cannot be done. I even joined expertflyer.com and they showed 6 available upgrades on the flight.

  • Anonymous

    Right- how were you trying to upgrade?

  • Lisa

    I called Delta and said I have purchased premium economy seats to Paris on Tuesday and I would like to use a system wide upgrade to business class. She had me on the line for 20 to 30 minutes to get all of my flight information and then she said the system needed the certificate numbers. I told her I did not have any cerificates. She said the only way to upgrade would be to use miles, a certificate or pay $9,000.

  • Lisa

    What do you think?

  • Lisa

    BTW I emailed expertflyer.com and asked them how to get an upgrade from premium voyageur to business class on Air France and they told me the same thing…points, certificate or money.

  • Anonymous

    Lisa- every systemwide has a certificate number- thats what they were asking for. They are 100% correct- you can only use a systemwide or miles.

  • Lisa

    Thanks!

  • Timo

    I bought a W class ticket (Premium Voyager) for JFK-CDG-CAI. I saw that there was O available on three of the four legs on expertflyer.com. I called Delta’s Platinum Medallion line and was willing to use SWUs or miles to upgrade to Business. After about a 10-15 minute wait while she checked the “Air France side,” the Delta rep told me that there is a difference between the W class that I bought and the “upgradable” W fare which is another $2.5K. She told me that there are codes withing the codes and that I would have had to ask for an “upgradable” W fare at time of purchase. She also told me that this was only with AF and the KLM’s fare classes conform to Delta’s. Any thoughts?

  • Anonymous

    Dumb rep.. call again. W is upgradeable- period.

  • Timo

    Called them back and explained my previous call. Now they say that the ) seats are simply not available as they haven’t been “released” to Delta. I told her I see 9 Os on both CDG-CAI legs and 3 Os on the JFK-CDG tonight on expertflyer.com. She said that those would only be upgradable if it wasn’t a shared itinerary?! What I didn’t tell her is that there is a direct JFK to CAI flight on Egypt Air that I will now start to seriously think about in the future as the only reason I fly SkyTeam four times a year to Egypt was to take advantage of my “status” with them. . .

  • Anonymous

    I think you got a dumb rep again. As the old adage goes, hang up and try again!

  • Timo

    Persistence pays! For some reason, the CDG – CAI leg can’t be upgraded because of the region, but I was able to use a SWU for the first JFK – CDG leg. But it took some doing. . .

  • Timo

    So something nice and unexected happened at CDG: As I mentioned, DL couldn’t upgrade my CDG-CAI leg, but when I got to the actual gate at CDG, the agent simply said without prompting, “you were upgraded before, so I’ll upgrade you again!” She just printed out another boarding pass right there in about two seconds. I was surprised, this being AF, but enjoyed the ride!

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