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Do Delta Elites Get Upgrades on Transcontinental Flights?

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TPG reader Alyssa messaged me to ask about Delta upgrades:

“What’s the deal with Delta upgrades on transcontinental flights? Do Diamond or Platinum Medallions get upgraded anymore?”

Sadly, the official answer is no. As of December 2013, Delta no longer offers complimentary upgrades to Diamond or Platinum Medallion members on premium transcontinental Delta One flights.

Unfortunately, you can’t get complimentary Delta transcon upgrades anymore. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I typically rag on United for copying Delta, but in this case, Delta copied United. For years United has had flyers use upgrade certificates or miles to upgrade on the airline’s premium transcontinental routes like JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO, and Delta has followed suit.

Diamond Medallions on paid tickets with no companions on their reservation should be added to the upgrade list and cleared at the gate if there’s space available, but Platinum Medallions will typically be out of luck. Diamond Medallions can also use an upgrade certificate if they have selected that as a choice benefit.

Another option is to upgrade on a K fare for 12,500 SkyMiles each way, which could be a decent value (depending on how much you paid for the K fare). See Leigh Rowan’s post on Upgrading Delta Transcontinental Flights for more information.

Unfortunately, the four regional upgrades given to Platinum Medallions can’t be used on transcontinental flights. Delta has made it harder to upgrade, but to give the airline a little credit, its product is pretty nice on those routes. Using your SkyMiles for these kinds of upgrades could be worthwhile.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

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