Business Class Upgrades – the inside scoop!
Delta Airlines has changed its upgrade algorithm making it nearly impossible to clear mileage upgrades for ticket purchases less than 14 days from the travel date. Historically, Delta has used the mileage upgrade to fill empty premium cabin seats through the purchase of higher economy fares (M,B,Y class). Upgrade inventory would routinely be available 14, 7, and 3 days prior to departure.
According to Passport Premiere, a business class monitoring service, Delta has modified its business class upgrade algorithm to block almost any upgrade request made within 14 days of travel regardless of the number of seats sold. Take the following example to prove our point. As of June 1st, Delta # 34 between Los Angeles & London on June 15th has 14 out of 36 business class seats unsold but upgrades seats ARE NOT AVAILABLE despite a 61% load factor. One day earlier (June 14th), the same fight has 16 out of 36 business class seats unsold but upgrade inventory IS NOT available. More seats are UNSOLD one day earlier but the upgrade is “not available.”
Delta’s algorithm change blocks the June 14th departure because the departure is less than 14 days from the departure date. These rule changes block business traveler’s access to the mileage upgrade, as this segment normally plans and purchases on short notice. The extreme business class discounting that took place in April & early May (i.e. $474 to Paris) will be subsidized by business travelers paying higher fares for last minute travel. According to Delta.com, round trip business class fares between Los Angeles & London for purchases less than 14 days from the departure date start at $8,128.20. Last minute business class specialists may offer lower business class fares when mileage upgrades are not available.
A quick search on 1st-air.net, International premium travel service specialists showed round trip business class fares between Los Angeles and London at $5,589.20 for purchases less than 14 days from the travel date, 30% lower than Delta.com. As of June 1st, the upgrade restrictions apply to Delta flights originating in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York & Los Angeles. Travel from & to Philadelphia are currently exempt. As of the time of writing, American Airlines is positioned to follow the Delta rule change.
For more valuable international travel tips like this one, visit Passport Premier to help you achieve maximum value on your next international trip with their premium cabin ticket purchases. Passport Premiere members receive weekly Member Intelligence Reports advising which countries offer the lowest business class fares and how to capture them at the right time. Passport Premiere also provides guidance on previous business class buying events, and reports them on their website so international travelers can determine how to get the best international deals at just the right time.