Delta quietly improves companion upgrade policy

Sep 1, 2020

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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.

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 photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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