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As A Delta Platinum, Why Don’t I Get Upgraded On All Flights Of Multi-Leg Trips?

by on December 29, 2013 · 5 comments

in Delta, Elite Status

TPG reader Dennis flies Delta often and counts on getting upgraded for long flights:

“I am a Platinum Medallion on Delta and noticed that for certain multi-city itineraries I am upgraded 5-6 days before my scheduled departure for the 2nd leg of my trip. Why am I not upgraded for the 1st leg at the same time even though half, if not more, of the Business/First class cabin seats are still open? I’m trying to understand when and if I will be upgraded prior to departure. Am I forced to wait until the day of departure to find out if I cleared?”

Upgrades to first class are some of the best perks of elite status. When you buy a cheap economy ticket and get that email letting you know that you’ve been upgraded it’s a great feeling, though sometimes it doesn’t make sense. As Dennis has experienced, he will often get upgraded 6 days before his flight, but on multi-leg trips sometimes he will only get upgraded on one leg of the trip even when it looks like half of the business class cabin is still open.

Hearing that your upgrade has been approved it always a pleasant surprise!

Hearing that your upgrade has been approved is always a pleasant surprise!

Airlines have pretty sophisticated technology that tell them the likelihood of upselling economy passengers or selling first class seats on flights. Even if you are 4 or 5 days out and your upgrade doesn’t clear, Delta will look at past sales and trends and check out what’s going on in the area at the time to see if they can potentially sell those seats before putting them in the upgrade pool.

Apart from that, though, the airline does not have to give you a first class seat if it is available. Airlines control the upgrade space based on revenue and in my opinion, over the years they have become more and more stingy with how much upgrade space they release to their elite members. Instead of releasing that space early. they are now holding onto it until the last minute and trying to upsell customers when they check in. In the airline’s eyes, selling that upgrade for $150 or $200 instead of giving it away 5 days in advance is a chance to make some more money and it doesn’t seem to matter that it could alienate their elites and lose them business in the long run.

While it may not make sense to you, it makes sense to the airlines to try to make as much money as possible before giving premium seats away for free. Unfortunately there is no defined way to determine if and when you will get upgraded, you just have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that you get lucky. I hope that answers your question, if not then tweet me @thepointsguy!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Mitch Cumstein

    How could anyone who flies enough to earn Platinum not already know this?

  • http://www.comediandan.com/ Dan Nainan

    Hahaha good point! Also is that your real name LOL.

  • Nelson Eddie

    Didn’t he get thrown out of school for night putting with the dean’s daughter?

  • me

    Some people fly because they have to, and they just do it without asking all the questions they may be thinking about. Having Platinum or Diamond status does not equate with having knowledge about the inner workings of the airlines or even the points system.

  • Laura S

    I am Delta Platinum and we just booked a trip to Cancun using Delta Vacations. The fare classes of our tickets are X and V, but I’m seeing the tickets were changing to “not upgrade eligible.” I called the Platinum line, and they told me it was because these are “special fares” even though the fare class is upgradable. Any suggestions?

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