$2,500 Upgradeable Delta Fares NYC-Tokyo

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

There is a common misnomer that using miles to upgrade paid fares is the most lucrative way to spend your miles. While it may make sense in some situations, most airlines have instituted hefty co-pays and/or it’s only the most expensive coach fares to eligible for international upgrades.

Delta is known for being the stingiest when it come to upgrading international fares – you need to buy the most expensive coach fares (Y, B, or M), which sometimes are even more expensive than discount (I) business class seats. To add insult to injury, many times upgrades aren’t confirmable at the time of booking, so you need to cross your fingers and hope it clears before departure. I never recommend going that route – I’d personally rather book the cheapest coach fare and then “buy up” if upgrade space becomes available.

I still have some Platinum Medallion Upgrade certificates back from the day when Delta automatically gave them to Platinums, but when checking the international market for upgradeable M fares, I usually see $2,700- $3,200 for Europe trips, which is a little too rich for me – especially since you only get business class. As I wrote about in October, Delta does have a good relationship with Air France where you can use a PMU or miles to upgrade Air France Premium Economy, (which is around $1,300 off-peak and $2,000 peak for JFK-CDG), which I may do this summer.

However, I’d really like to visit Asia soon, so I checked the NYC to Tokyo route and discovered they have some pretty reasonable M fares that are loaded from now throughout the year for around $2,500. They even include the Haneda route, which currently has a double miles promotion.

M Class LGA to Tokyo Haneda

So for $2,500 you could fly LGA-DTW- HND confirmed in business class for 2 Systemwide Upgrades or 50,000 miles. As a Diamond, I’d earn:
SkyMiles (not elite)
13, 858 base miles
6,929 M class 50% bonus
12, 854 for the double miles promo between DTW-HND
13, 858 Diamond bonus
47, 499

Medallion (Elite) Qualifying Miles
13, 858 base distance
6,929 M class 50% bonus
20, 787

This isn’t a “true” mileage run because I’d be paying $2,500 for 20,787 Elite miles – 12 cents a piece – when good mileage runs are in the 3 cents range. I could route through a couple more cities to squeeze in more miles, but the best it will get is around 10 cents a mile.

However, it is a fantastic way to go to Asia in comfort and accrue a boatload of redeemable and elite miles. Even if you don’t have system-wide upgrade certificates, you’d be earning almost as many miles as you are using for the upgrade. So in essence, you are getting a $6,000+ business class fare for $2,500!

Nearly $7,000 for “Discount” Business!

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at Marriott and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,200 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.