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Delta quietly improves companion upgrade policy

Sept. 01, 2020
4 min read
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Who doesn't love a free upgrade?

One of the best perks of elite status is the promise of complimentary, space-available upgrades on most domestic flights. Pre-pandemic, battling for the few remaining available premium seats was always stressful.

Now, Delta has made a positive change to its companion upgrade policy that'll hopefully reduce some of that uncertainty.

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Delta's companion upgrade policy

Delta revamped the companion upgrade policy in 2016.

Since then, if a Medallion member is flying with a companion on the same reservation, both passengers would clear upgrades based on the higher of the two status levels. This applies to both first-class and Comfort+ upgrades.

For example, a Diamond Medallion traveling with a Silver Medallion would be eligible for first-class upgrades beginning 120 hours prior to departure. Both passengers would also be upgraded to Comfort+ shortly after ticketing.

However, Delta wasn't nearly as generous if you were flying with a companion who was booked on a separate reservation.

If you and your companion were booked on separate paid reservations for the same flights, you could "link" the tickets by calling the Delta SkyMiles desk (800-323-2323). Then, your companion would become eligible for upgrades. However, the upgrade priority would work differently.

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For domestic Delta One and first class, upgrades would clear based on individual elite status. Using the example above, a Diamond would clear beginning 120 hours prior to departure and a Silver member would clear beginning 24 hours prior to departure. However, if an elite was traveling with a non-status companion on a "linked" reservation, the non-status companion would become upgrade eligible no more than 24 hours prior to departure. The Medallion's upgrade would still clear at the respective window.

For Comfort+, only the Medallion member will clear an upgrade at the respective window. Non-status companions booked on separate reservations can't partake in the Comfort+ upgrade benefit.

An interior view of the Delta A220. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Related: The ultimate guide to getting upgraded on Delta

What's changing?

Effective immediately, Delta is improving the companion upgrade policy for those booked on separate reservations that have been linked.

Going forward, if a Medallion and non-status companion are booked on separate reservations, the non-status companion will clear domestic Delta One and first-class upgrades beginning at the Medallion member's upgrade window. Delta confirmed the recent change that's aimed to enhance the upgrade experience with TPG.

That means that a Diamond member and the member's non-status companion will both be eligible for bumps to Delta One and first beginning 120 hours before departure. This is a massive improvement compared to the old policy since the non-status companion would have only become eligible the day before departure.

However, if a Diamond and Silver are traveling together on separate reservations that have been linked, the Diamond will clear at the Diamond window and the Silver will clear at the Silver window.

The companion upgrade policy for Comfort+ remains unchanged as part of today's news.

Related: Delta rolls out extended Medallion status well ahead of schedule

Bottom line

Delta has quietly updated the upgrade window for elites traveling with non-status companions. Previously, a non-status companion on a separate reservation could only clear upgrades beginning a day before departure.

As part of the change, Delta will now upgrade the companion at the same time as the Medallion member.

Of course, this is a double-edged sword. If you're a Diamond or Platinum who frequently travels with a companion, this is likely great news. But if you're a Gold member who travels alone, you likely won't be happy that a Diamond's companion booked on a separate reservation will now get the upgrade ahead of you.

Either way, there will likely be many more unsold premium-cabin seats post-pandemic improving everyone's shot at an upgrade.

Featured image by Alberto Riva

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023