How To Upgrade To Business Class on Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines

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Buying a premium airline class ticket outright is pretty expensive, especially on Delta Airlines.

Business and First class tickets are often priced at 2 – 5 times higher than economy rates. You can estimate a full-fare premium ticket to be between $1,500 – $5,000 each way, depending on where and when you are flying.

That’s why upgrades are so important, as they give you a more fair fare (sometimes even for free if you participate in the airline’s loyalty programs).

Delta Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, and most profitable, so I think they know what they are doing when it comes to pricing. The airline is one of the major US carriers, and also has one of the better food offerings, so it’s not a secret why travelers enjoy their premium cabins.

If you are booked in an economy ticket on Delta Airlines we will break down how you can go about upgrading.

How To Upgrade To Business Class

Delta Airlines has one of the leading business class products out of US carriers. Whether you are flying to London, Paris, Rome, or even Hawaii, Delta is usually one of the best options.

Luckily you don’t need to shell out the full fare ticket for a premium seat as there are many ways to upgrade into the cabin for a bit cheaper.

Once you have your reservation ticketed, you can apply for an upgrade in a few ways. The easiest will be online, but don’t rule out calling or checking once you arrive at the airport.

There is no set price on upgrading to business class and for Delta Airlines it also won’t come cheap.

Depending on your route, days till departure, fair class, available seats, and more will all factor into the price Delta is going to charge or chances of getting a complimentary upgrade.

While Delta does not offer a bid to upgrade program like other airlines, here are the various ways you can go about upgrading:

Upgrade On Delta Website

Delta Airlines makes it easy to apply for an upgrade on their website and mobile app. While the option usually presents its self during booking, you can also manage it on your trip page.

Here are the various ways and when you can go about scheduling an upgrade.

  • During Booking: When you book a flight on the Delta website, you’ll be presented with different cabin options, including Main Cabin, Comfort+, and Business Class (Delta One). Typically Delta will make an offer for a higher cabin on the checkout screen, usually for cheaper than the outright fare of that class. If Premium Economy, Business Class, or First Class is available on your chosen flight, you can select it directly during this process.
  • After Booking: If you’ve already booked your flight in a different cabin, you can still upgrade to a higher cabin. Log in to your account on the Delta website and go to ‘My Trips.’ Select your upcoming flight and look for the ‘Upgrade’ option. You will typically be present of an option to pay with miles or cash.
  • Using SkyMiles: Delta’s loyalty program, SkyMiles, allows you to use your accumulated miles to upgrade to Business Class. This option can be found both during the booking process and in the ‘My Trips’ section for existing bookings. If you don’t have enough Skymiles in your account you can always transfer from a major credit card partner or open a cobranded airline credit card.
  • Waitlist for Upgrades: If Business Class is fully booked, or if you prefer to wait for a potential complimentary upgrade based on your SkyMiles status, you can choose to be waitlisted. This option is subject to availability and often prioritizes higher-tier SkyMiles members.

Remember, the availability of Business Class upgrades can vary based on the flight, the time of booking, and your SkyMiles membership level. It’s always a good idea to check the upgrade availability frequently as your flight date approaches, as situations can change, and spots may open up.

If Delta does not show the available seats, try a points and miles tool that can often obtain a seat map.

When you are presented a fee to update, it could be quite high. This is because Delta operates on a revenue-based system, hoping to maximize how much travelers are willing to pay. If this happens to you, don’t give up. Because airline price flights dynamically, it may get cheaper over time (or more expensive).

Upgrade By Calling Delta

You may have more luck when calling he Delta line and can get an immediate answer of the availability. The call center is usually pretty reliable if you have status but if there is a major weather event you might hit delays.

If you want to upgrade over the phone then you should follow these steps.

  1. Find the Right Number: Visit the Delta Airlines website and navigate to the ‘Contact Us’ section. Here, you’ll find various customer service numbers. For SkyMiles members, there are dedicated lines based on membership tiers (Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond), which can provide quicker service.
  2. Prepare Your Details: Before you call, have your flight details ready, including your confirmation number, flight dates, and flight numbers. If you plan to use SkyMiles for the upgrade, ensure you have your SkyMiles number and password at hand.
  3. Call and Request an Upgrade: Once connected to a representative, inform them that you want to upgrade to Business Class. The representative will check the availability for your specific flight(s) and inform you about the options, including the cost in cash or miles.
  4. Discuss Additional Options: If direct upgrades to Business Class are unavailable, inquire about waitlisting for an upgrade or the possibility of upgrading at the airport. Delta representatives can provide information on the likelihood of upgrades based on the flight’s current booking status and your SkyMiles tier.
  5. Confirm and Complete the Upgrade: The representative will guide you through the process if an upgrade is available. This will involve confirming passenger details and completing the payment or miles deduction. Ensure you receive a confirmation of your upgrade before ending the call.
  6. Check Your Email: Delta will send a confirmation email with your upgraded booking details after your call. Review this email to ensure that all the information is correct.

Remember, upgrading by phone might involve a long wait time, especially during peak hours. Calling during off-peak hours can often result in shorter wait times.

We’ve also noticed no difference in price for upgrades when calling as the Delta agents seem to have consistent pricing. I would say to chose this route only if you prefer to talk to someone directly and look at additional options rather than trying to get it for cheaper.

Upgrade At Airport check-in

Lastly, don’t count out upgrading at the last minute during airport checking. When you arrive you can always ask check in agent if there are seats avaialble and how much it is to upgrade.

Don’t forget to be polite to your check-in agent, as they will be more inclined to help you score the better seat.

Here’s how you can approach upgrading your Delta Airlines ticket at the airport:

  1. Arrive Early: To increase your chances of securing an upgrade, arrive at the airport earlier than usual. This gives you a better opportunity to inquire about available upgrades before other passengers potentially claim them.
  2. Inquire at Check-In: As you approach the check-in counter, politely ask the Delta representative if any Business Class upgrades are available for your flight. If you’re a SkyMiles member it doesn’t hurt mentioning, as this may improve your chances of getting an upgrade.
  3. Check Upgrade Costs: This can vary based on flight duration, destination, and availability. Sometimes, last-minute upgrades at the airport can be offered at a reduced cost but Delta is notorious for keeping them high.
  4. Use SkyMiles for Upgrades: If you have enough SkyMiles, ask the representative if you can use your miles to pay for the upgrade. This can be a great way to use your miles, especially if the cash cost of the upgrade is high.
  5. Gate Upgrades: If no upgrades are available at check-in, or if you choose not to upgrade immediately, you can also inquire at the gate. Sometimes, additional seats in Business Class become available as the boarding time approaches.
  6. Confirm Your Upgrade: The representative will update your ticket once you proceed with the upgrade. Ensure you receive a new boarding pass reflecting your Business Class seat.

Upgrading at the airport is subject to availability and is often more unpredictable than securing an upgrade in advance. It’s also worth noting that during peak travel times or on popular routes, the availability of upgrades may be limited.

Cost To Upgrade To Business Class

There are two ways you can pay for an upgrade, either with cash or with miles. Both options are good, especially if you have miles to spare. Here is how you can go about it and how much you can expect to pay.

Upgrade with Cash

Upgrading to Business Class with cash can vary significantly based on several factors. We’ve seen Delta often make it the fair difference of anywhere from $300 – $800 for domestic flights and $1,000 – $3,000 for international flights. This is much higher than Delta’s Skyteam partner like Air France that offers business upgrades on international for $400 – $800.

There is no way to predict how much they charge but here are a few things to know:

  1. Flight Route and Distance: Longer international flights generally cost more to upgrade than shorter domestic routes.
  2. Demand and Time of Booking: The cost can be higher for flights in high demand or during peak travel seasons. Booking an upgrade well in advance can sometimes offer a cost-benefit.
  3. Fare Class: Upgrading from certain fare classes may be more expensive. Lower economy fares often have higher upgrade costs compared to premium economy fares.
  4. Last-Minute Upgrades: Sometimes, Delta may offer last-minute upgrades at the airport at a reduced cost, especially if Business Class seats are still available close to departure.

If you want to get a sense of pricing you can also check what the cabin you desire is currently priced at. It will most likely be equivalent or less than that amount but it gives you a good baseline before booking.

Upgrade with Miles

Using SkyMiles to upgrade to Business Class is a popular option for Delta’s frequent flyers. While Skymiles don’t offer the best redemptions compared to say Star Alliance partners or United, you can still find some deals and put them to use to upgrade.

You can expect Skymiles amount to align with the cash option, since we’ve seen rates anywhere from 30,000 Skymiles all the way to 200,000 Skymiles to upgrade. Here is what you should know:

  1. Miles Required: The number of miles required for an upgrade depends on factors like the route, fare class, and availability. Longer flights and higher-demand routes generally require more miles.
  2. Miles and Cash Combination: Delta also offers the option to use a combination of miles and cash for upgrades, which can be a flexible solution if you don’t have enough miles to cover the full cost.
  3. SkyMiles Tier: Higher-tier SkyMiles members often have access to better upgrade rates and more availability.
  4. Dynamic Pricing: Delta uses dynamic pricing for miles redemption, so the cost in miles for upgrades can fluctuate. Regularly check the Delta website or app for the current rates.

In both cash and miles upgrades, it’s beneficial to regularly check the Delta website or contact customer service for current upgrade rates, as they can change based on availability and other factors.

Is Delta Business Class Worth It?

Given the usually high cost of upgrading, you may be asking is it worth it? The answer, it depends.

Delta Business Class on long haul international flights is a great experience. The airline has all new suites that come with private doors, good food, and great service.

You will definitely have a good experience in Delta Business Class as its one of the most comfortable way to fly. We’ve experienced it many times from Paris to New York on an A330 and from Los Angeles to New York on a 767.

Note, not all Delta planes are created equal as they still run a lot of older business class products on many routes. Be sure to check the plane type before you upgrade to see what the experience will be like.

If you are able to get their new business class on planes like the A330 and its an overnight flight, it may be well worth the upgrade.

Summary & Takeaways

Navigating the options for upgrading to Business Class on Delta Airlines isn’t always about finding an ultra cheap option but there are still good deals to be found. If it comes down to booking a business class outright vs upgrading for less, its always better to save a few dollars.

Delta is the most profitable airline for a reason – their premium seats are in demand for travelers willing to pay full price.

When you are trying to upgrade from a lower booking you need to keep in mind that it is never guaranteed. A flight may be full, upgrade price may be crazy, or it may not even be eligible from your fare booking class. You should always be prepared to remain in your booked cabin if it doesn’t end up working out.

Luckily Delta does provide a few different ways to upgrade and depending on your trip it can certainly be worth it.

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