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How to upgrade on Delta Air Lines

Enjoy a better seat without spending the extra dollars.

Updated

Fact checked

Our pick for Delta upgrades: Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card logo

35,000-mile

Welcome offer after spending $1,000 in first 3 months

  • 2x miles on Delta and at restaurants and US supermarkets
  • Delta perks include priority boarding, first bag checked free and statement credits
  • $0 intro annual fee, then $99
Apply now
See rates & fees

Getting a seat upgrade without having to pay extra dollars is a cool perk. With most airlines, this perk is reserved for the ultimate flyer who spends a lot on airfare. Luckily, there is another way to upgrade without emptying your wallet.

How can I get an upgrade?

With Delta Air Lines there are two ways to get an upgrade — either use your miles or become a Medallion member. Here is the difference between the two:

  • SkyMiles members can upgrade using miles to Delta One®, Delta Premium Select, First Class or Delta Comfort+® for eligible flights within the US.
  • Medallion members get complimentary upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+. Diamond and Platinum Medallion members get upgrade certificates, which have higher priority and give access to global and regional upgrades on Delta and select flights on partner airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Korean Air.

Who gets upgraded?

When you decide to upgrade with Delta, know that there is a hierarchy. Starting from the highest priority, it goes like this:

  1. Medallion Elite status. The higher your status, the higher upgrade priority you get.
  2. Fare class. Higher-priced fares get priority over lower-priced.
  3. Delta Reserve Credit Card members. Being a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card cardmember gets you third on the priority list.
  4. Delta corporate travelers. If you fall in this group, you must be a SkyMiles Medallion member traveling on a ticket that includes your employer’s Corporate Ticket Designator.
  5. Delta SkyMiles® credit card owners. This applies to card owners who meet the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) Waiver in the current calendar year.
  6. Date and time of upgrade request. This is used as a tie-breaker in case two passengers fall in the same priority group.

Delta upgrade with miles

Delta offers two ways to upgrade with miles:

During booking

  1. Go to delta.com and log in.
  2. Select your ticket.
  3. If eligible, the option to Upgrade with Miles will appear in your Trip Summary before you complete your purchase.
  4. Use miles to upgrade.

After booking

  1. Go to delta.com or use the Fly Delta app and find your reservation in My Trips.
  2. If available, the option to Select Seats for money or miles will appear.
  3. Pick an available seat and complete your purchase.

In case you can’t upgrade on delta.com, call Delta Reservations, share your trip information and ask to upgrade with miles. The representative will give you prices and availability. If you are eligible and have enough miles, you can confirm the upgrade.

How to use a credit card to get a Delta upgrade

The Delta SkyMiles program is designed to reward its loyal customers. By having a Delta credit card you can earn more miles on your purchases, which you can redeem for seat upgrades.

And if you reach a Medallion status, you get unlimited complimentary upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+.

Compare credit cards that can help earn an upgrade

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With a welcome offer worth up to $600, up to 2x miles on select purchases, and assorted Delta perks, this is a strong choice for Delta fans. Rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
10,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants and on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0
Earn 2x miles on Delta purchases and dining with this simple, entry-level Delta card, and pay no annual fee. Rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
40,000 miles and 5,000 MQMs after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus $100 after making a Delta purchase in the same timeframe
3x miles on Delta and direct hotel purchases, 2x miles at restaurants and US supermarkets and 1x miles for all other purchases
$250
This card boasts a welcome offer worth up to $720, an annual companion certificate and valuable Delta perks. Rates & fees
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
40,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
3x miles on direct Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$550
Delta's luxury offering shines with access to Delta Sky Clubs, Centurion Lounges, an annual companion certificate and more valuable travel perks. Rates & fees
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
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Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
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How to use miles to upgrade on a Delta partner flight

To upgrade on Delta partner flights you need to earn Medallion status. Aeromexico allows all Medallion members to upgrade, while Diamond and Platinum members can upgrade on eligible flights from KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air.

Bottom line

If you want to get an upgrade on Delta, you have to use your miles or become a Medallion member. Medallion membership is usually harder to earn, but if you do, you get unlimited complimentary upgrades.

However, if getting a Delta upgrade seems like a hassle, consider other airline credit cards that may get you the benefits and perks you need.

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