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One of the questions I get the most is for advice about how to best go about getting domestic business class upgrades for “lower ranked” medallion members like the SM (Silver) or GM (Gold) flyers (click here to see the real unofficial definition of these members btw).
I have talked about some of these strategies in comments and here and there in other posts but not all in one place so here we go.
Thanks to amazingly easy ways to amass a ton of MQM’s making it to PM has almost been too easy. For example, my wife made PM for the current year and spent less that $1000 TOTAL all-in on air fare with Delta last year. She made it with the 25k AMEX deal with 50k MR transfer, and I sent her 30K from a Delta Reserve card ( so 55k so far of the 75k ) and the rest from her own 10K AMEX reserve card and some flights with ETV’s from bumps. On top of this, she could have taken advantage of the buy up to 10k MQM’s at the end of the year.
So as you can see, there are a TON of PM & DM’s on almost every flight. So how in the world do you go about scoring a FREE upgrade?
The first most important rule you MUST understand is what I have talked about before. If you pick say ATL-LAX any day and almost any flight and you will be #682 on the upgrade list as an SM or GM flyer (ok maybe not that bad but you get the point). The DM’s and PM’s will often be paying a near premium price and most of them will also have the DELTA AMEX RESERVE card as well that moves them to the TOP of the list for their fare class. If the bird is one of the new “upgraded” Airbus 320′s FORGET fighting over one of the 12 first class seats; you are FIGHTING over a Economy comfort seat if you can even get that.
If you are depressed and bummed out over the reality of life on a Delta flight now let me tell you there is hope. And good hope if you do the work much like booking a SKYMILES ticket. One of the kool things about Delta is they fly 757′s with a TON of first class seats. So no matter what, the first thing when looking for flights, look for the birds with a bunch of seats. Now I know they may pull a equipment change along the way but that is the way it is. But if a schedule change happens you should be able to change back to a 757.
Tip number two is look for routes that are not ideal or direct and avoid ATL if you can. Search for connections and leaset wanted routes.
Tip number three is obvious. No matter what fare class you are in, if you have the DELTA AMEX RESERVE card you move to the top of that list. If you want upgrades, it’s simple, you MUST have this card to get an edge in this game. I have it and it helps.
Tip number four is for a few bucks look to buy the higher fare class. If LUT class is only say 10% less than the next one up, K or Q, is a choice for you, you will VAULT over so many in the “chum pool” in the lower end cheapest of cheap fares. With a Delta AMEX card you are now TOPS of the cheap’os for upgrades.
Tip number five is also obvious. Pick the times and days DM & PM don’t want to fly. Red-eye, is great for you and “we” don’t want it. Wednesday eve flights, you go boy! You can go on and on this way and find the times PM & DM just don’t like to fly. Avoid times like Monday AM or Friday PM.
I hope some of these ideas help you score more upgrades! – René
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