Delta Air Lines has this week quietly updated its companion upgrade policy, and it’s either good or bad news, depending on whether you usually travel with a companion. No matter how you feel about the policy, one thing is for sure — the implementation of it makes no sense.
Delta’s companion upgrade policy
As noted by Rene’s Points, Delta has updated its companion upgrade policy. SkyMiles Medallion members receive complimentary domestic upgrades, and even companions of Medallion members are eligible for upgrades, subject to availability.
The policy differs depending on whether you’re traveling on the same reservation, or on separate reservations that are simply linked. Note that of the “big three” US airlines, Delta is the only one that allows those on “linked” reservations to be upgraded on account of elite status.
If you and your companion are traveling on the same reservation:
- The upgrades of both travelers will clear based on the status of the highest tiered SkyMiles member
- In other words, if a Diamond Medallion member and Silver Medallion member are traveling on the same reservation, both could clear at the Diamond Medallion’s upgrade window (as early as 120 hours out)
If you and your companion are traveling on separate reservations:
- If the companion is a SkyMiles non-elite member, the upgrades for both travelers will clear based on the status of the highest tiered SkyMiles member
- If the companion is a SkyMiles elite member, each member will clear based on their individual status
What has actually changed here? The change is that non-elite companions on linked reservations used to clear at most 24 hours out, while they now clear at the window of the higher status member.
In other words, up until this change, if a Diamond Medallion had a linked reservation with a non-elite member, then the Diamond Medallion member could clear 120 hours out, while the non-elite member would clear at most 24 hours out. Now that non-elite member could clear 120 hours out as well.
Delta has adjusted its companion upgrade policy
Why Delta’s new upgrade policy makes no sense
Here’s the main reason I’m covering this — the policy is bizarre and makes no sense. People will disagree as to whether a Diamond Medallion member’s non-elite companion should clear an upgrade before a Platinum Medallion member.
But the actual way this is implemented doesn’t make sense. Delta provides the following specific examples for upgrades on linked reservations:
For domestic Delta One and First Class, your upgrades will clear based on your individual Member Status and confirmation windows, if available. For example, if Platinum and Silver Medallion Members are traveling together, the Platinum Medallion Member will clear at the Platinum window and the Silver Medallion Member will clear at the Silver window. If your companion is a General Member who does not have Medallion Status, their upgrade will clear at the clearing time of the Medallion Member’s Tier. For example, if a Platinum Medallion Member and a General Member are traveling together, both will clear at the Platinum window.
In other words, Delta is penalizing companions with status:
- If a Diamond Medallion and non-elite member are traveling together, both clear at the Diamond Medallion member’s upgrade window
- If a Diamond Medallion and Platinum Medallion are traveling together, the Diamond Medallion clears at his/her window, and the Platinum Medallion clears at his/her (later) window
A couple of final things to note:
- Some may say “well you should just leave your SkyMiles number off a reservation if you have status,” but note that you have to have a frequent flyer number attached to a reservation as a companion to get the upgrade
- The only plausible explanation I can come up with here is that this is some sort of an IT limitation, though oddly this problem doesn’t exist if two people are booked on the same reservation
Delta is penalizing Medallion companions with this new policy
Of the major US airlines, Delta arguably has the most generous companion upgrade policy, as you can even upgrade companions who aren’t on the same reservation. That’s good for those frequently traveling with companions, and bad for those who typically travel alone.
No matter how you slice it, the implementation of Delta’s new companion upgrade policy for linked reservations makes no sense. Non-elite members would clear upgrades with a Diamond Medallion member, while anyone with elite status wouldn’t. Yep, Delta is penalizing companion members for having status.
Does anyone have a different take on this upgrade policy?