How to Upgrade to First Class on Delta

Flying first class does not have to cost an arm and a leg.
Flying first class does not have to cost an arm and a leg. (Image: Businessclass image by Angelika Bentin from

First-class airline tickets often cost more than twice as much as standard coach fare. It is possible, however, to fly first class without paying the full price. Delta Air Lines offers several options that allow passengers to fly first class for not much more than coach airfare.

Pay for a same-day upgrade. If there is space available, you can pay a fee to upgrade to first class the day of your flight. The fee is based on the length of the flight, and longer flights will have higher fees. The most expensive fee is $250 each way, which is significantly less than what you would have paid had you purchased first-class tickets in the first place. Same-day upgrades are available only on flights within North America, or between North America and South/Central America where business class is offered.

Buy an upgrade with miles. If you have Sky Miles with Delta, you may use them to upgrade a coach ticket to first class. The number of miles needed varies, based on the length of the flight and the ticket purchased.

Use your status to get an upgrade. If you are a Medallion member with Delta, you qualify for unlimited complimentary upgrades. When you book your ticket, you will receive an automatic upgrade request. When you are ticketed or when you check in, you may be upgraded based on availability. Higher medallion statuses (Diamond or Platinum vs. Silver) will be upgraded before the lower statuses.

Ask for an upgrade. The worst that can happen is that you remain in coach. As airlines struggle financially, many are overbooking economy class. It is not uncommon for a flight to be oversold, which means the airline is seeking volunteers to give up their seats. This may be the case with your flight. If there are open seats in first class, it benefits the airline to fly with a full plane, rather than angering customers and leaving empty seats in first class.

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