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How I upgraded my flight, saved $40 and earned 2,500 bonus miles

March 04, 2021
6 min read
How I upgraded my flight, saved $40 and earned 2,500 bonus miles
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Jumping on bonus and discount opportunities is a great way to make the most of your travel rewards. And while an individual offer may not move the needle by itself, the ability to stack certain promotions can be enough to influence your behavior — like the change I just made to a mid-summer flight itinerary.

Here's how I was able to upgrade a Delta flight while saving $40 and earning 2,500 bonus SkyMiles.

In the hopes of a significant return-to-travel this summer, I had planned a trip out west with my family — including nonstop Delta flights from Orlando (MCO) to Salt Lake City (SLC) and an Airbnb stay in Southern Idaho. The goal was to explore the natural beauty of that part of the U.S. while checking off a new state for my wife and daughter.

Our outbound flight was booked into Delta first class using some leftover Virgin Atlantic miles from a canceled Europe trip, and our return was a paid economy ticket. Since Delta now waives change fees on most tickets, I periodically check to see if the price we paid drops — but I wasn't expecting it at $196 per person.

However, yesterday I received an email with a targeted offer for earning 2,500 bonus SkyMiles if I changed my flight — either online or through the Delta app.

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The promotion appears to be an attempt to ease the burden on the carrier's phone lines — as the text included the following (emphasis mine):

"You may have called us in the past to adjust your travel plans. Because we know plans can change, we now have an easier way for you to take control of your travel. If you need to change your flight, you can quickly make changes at or with the Fly Delta App. Then, as a one-time offer, we’ll gift you 2,500 bonus miles. Rest assured, the value of your ticket will not be lost. Offer ends June 30, 2021."

2,500 SkyMiles are worth $27.50 based on TPG's most recent valuations, so this (by itself) isn't earth-shattering. However, I then remembered that there's currently a targeted Amex Offer for Delta, awarding a $40 statement credit by spending $200 or more before March 31, 2021.

Screenshot courtesy of American Express

This was available on my Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, which allows me to earn 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in spending in a calendar year (then 1x).

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That got me thinking: Could I change my flight from economy to Delta Comfort+ to trigger both of these offers? It turns out that I could — and just a few minutes later, my entire family was rebooked for the flight home.

Related: Your ultimate guide to Amex Offers

Here's a breakdown of the purchase and associated rewards I'll earn:

  • Additional purchase price: $270
  • Amex Offer statement credit: $40
  • Bonus miles for changing the flight: 2,500, since only I was targeted (worth $27.50)
  • Base earnings on the purchase: 660 Amex points (worth $13.20)
  • Additional SkyMiles on the more expensive ticket: 420 per person, or 1,260 in total (worth $13.86)

That means my $270 purchase was effectively $175.44 out of pocket — or less than $60 per person. Not a bad purchase for extra legroom and complimentary beer & wine on a flight that's blocked at over four hours.

Read more: Your complete guide to earning and redeeming Delta SkyMiles

How to use this offer yourself

If you were targeted for this Amex Offer, have added it to your card, and have an upcoming Delta flight, here's how to check and see if a similar option is available to you.

Start by logging into your SkyMiles account, then navigate to your trips. Open the one that you want to change, then click the Modify Flight icon.

Review the change and cancellation options, then click Start Flight Change.

Keep the search criteria if you plan to remain on the same flight (or adjust it if you want to change the trip), then click Find New Flight.

Select the flight and class of service you want from the results page.

Review the new itinerary — making sure that the total new price is at least $200 (to trigger the Amex Offer).

Enter your American Express card details, then click Complete Change at the bottom.

You should then receive a copy of the ticket in your email.

There was one other interesting aspect of this process to point out. The above screenshot shows the ticket prices for my flight when I went to change them. However, this was a lower price than what was displayed for purchasing a brand-new ticket on the flight.

Before I even went to modify my existing flight, this higher price appeared, so it's not like the system had already pulled those remaining seats from inventory. Just flagging that there's a small chance you could see a better price if going through the process of changing a flight rather than booking a new itinerary.

Overall, I'm very happy with the new flight — but I probably wouldn't have pulled the trigger without the combination of the Amex Offer and bonus miles. This just goes to show that you should always pay close attention to these types of offers, as you never know when they can save you some money or earn you extra rewards for your next trip.

All screenshots courtesy of Delta Air Lines (unless otherwise noted)

Featured image by Delta Comfort+ seating on an Embraer 175 regional jet (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.