Delta Is Adding Elite Companion Upgrades On More Types Of Tickets

Filed Under: Delta

As much as Delta SkyMiles very much leads the race to the bottom for the “big three” US frequent flyer programs, they’re also the program that proactively makes the most positive changes. That’s to say that once in a while American or United will make a positive change as a result of what Delta has done, but Delta has made some positive improvements long before their competitors.

Delta has just announced the latest SkyMiles improvement, which impacts companion upgrades for SkyMiles elite members.

As of today (April 6, 2017), companions of Medallion members are eligible for complimentary upgrades on just about all kinds of tickets, including award tickets, Miles + Cash tickets, Pay with Miles tickets, SkyMiles Companion Certificate tickets, etc. Previously there were restrictions on what kind of tickets were eligible for companion upgrades.

Here’s the announcement, per the SkyMiles News & Updates page:

Now traveling with your companion is even better. Starting April 6, 2017, companions traveling with Medallion Members will be eligible for Complimentary Upgrades not only on paid tickets but Award Tickets, Miles + Cash tickets, and Pay with Miles tickets. Companions traveling with a Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Member on a SkyMiles Companion Certificate will also be eligible for Complimentary Upgrades.


This is a nice improvement, as companions of elite members will now be eligible for complimentary upgrades on just about all tickets. Keep in mind that last year Delta changed how companion upgrade priority works, as companion members now clear upgrades based on the higher status level of the two passengers, even at the upgrade window.

So not only are more tickets than ever before eligible for complimentary upgrades, but the chances of a companion upgrade clearing are also better. However, do keep in mind that the number of first class seats isn’t changing, so this isn’t necessarily good news for all elites, since a companion’s upgrade will typically be coming at the expense of someone else’s upgrade.

This change ultimately reinforces Delta viewing SkyMiles as a currency that can be redeemed similar to cash. They’re trying to peg the value of a SkyMile at about a penny, so they see no reason to discriminate based on whether you paid cash or miles.

(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)

  1. This is pretty bad news. I know it sounds great but lately free upgrades are more of an over-promise under deliver situation. I don’t think it’s necessary to allow upgrades for companions on free tickets considering they are leaving many Diamomds and Platinum’s in the back. It’s actually time airlines , especially Delta consider going to a more restrictive program. I have seen mega long upgrade lists and that’s actually a huge de-motivator for keeping status. I’m number 13 today as an EXP on a LAS-DFW flight. I was 26 as a Platinum from ATL-LAS on Delta. i haven’t had a SWU clear ahead of time in years on either airline although Delta clears ahead a little more often than American for the RUCs

  2. Terrible news for elite members that are paying for a ticket and expecting to be upgraded.

  3. @Ryan and @Santastico, I agree that it’s frustrating to see perks like this get devalued, but if you want to fly first class, you just have to buy a first class ticket. The chance at an upgrade is a nice benefit, but buying economy and demanding AA/DL put you in F just because you fly a lot isn’t a reasonable/logical expectation.

  4. @Jim It may not be a reasonable expectation, but it’s basically true that the >reason< to maintain high status is the expectation of upgrades at least sometime.

    If that expectation is not met, there is no reason to maintain status.

    We can argue about whether companions are more worthy of upgrades than mid-tier folks in the FF program but we can't argue that elite status has much meaning outside of upgrades. Credit cards and first-class monetization strategies are an entirely viable replacement for most everything else.

  5. OMG! I literally complained about this to delta 2 weeks ago, after I learned my Platinum Amex companion certificate excluded upgrade eligibility to comfort plus! Glad to see they might be listening!

  6. @Jim: it is very simple. I travel for work and I have to follow corporate travel policy when buying a ticket. I am allowed to buy domestic first and international business class if my flight is over 6 hours. Thus, it is not that simple to just buy first class. However, I spend over $70k a year in airline tickets so I hope Delta values my business. Also, I have the flexibility to chose which airline I want to fly. Thus, if I am not getting upgraded to first because Delta is giving that to people that are not big spenders I can always take my spend somewhere else.

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