Can an Alaska Airlines Elite Get an Upgrade to First Class on a Delta Award Ticket

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Alaska Airlines Elite First Class Upgrade Delta Award Ticket

Alaska Airlines Elite First Class Upgrade Delta Award Ticket

Today I am flying on a direct flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on Delta for this weekend’s Ann Arbor Art Fair DO! This is the first time I have flown Delta in a few years and the first time I have flown them as an Alaska Airlines MVP Gold.

I obtained Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status via a status match before my American Airlines Platinum status expired earlier this year. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to use it much, so I was hoping to it would come in handy today. The only catch is I am flying on a Delta Saver award booked out of my son’s SkyMiles account. (He was too cheap to fly me up front!) 🙂

Alaska Airlines elites are eligible for a number of benefits when flying on Delta Airlines including upgrades, but I wasn’t able to find how they treated award tickets. I assumed I wouldn’t be eligible for an upgrade, but I couldn’t find the exclusion in their fine print. (I am not saying it doesn’t exist, merely that I couldn’t find it.)

Blocked from the Upgrade List

Alaska Airlines Elite First Class Upgrade Delta Award Ticket
Not for me!

My first hint of trouble came when I pulled up my reservation in the Delta app and the upgrade options was greyed out. Thankfully I was able to still choose a preferred seat (exit row), but first class was off limits and Comfort Plus is extra.  Instead of worrying anymore about it, I showed up at the airport today and head to the Sky Priority desk to ask.

The agent was very nice and said he would try to process an upgrade. Unfortunately because I am on a class N ticket (a Delta coach award) no upgrade is possible. Just to make sure there was nothing that could be done, I asked again very nicely at the gate, but this time the agent didn’t even try. She just said you are on an award and are not eligible.


So far my flight on Delta is very nice. I have always had decent flights on Delta. Thankfully the exit row has plenty of legroom and the middle seat is empty which makes me happy. Hopefully by putting this out there, someone who is trying to find the answer to this question in the future won’t have to look too hard. Or maybe I am the only Alaska elite traveling on a SkyMiles award ticket? Nah.

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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  1. You must be a medallion gold and above to be eligible for upgrade on award tickets.

    Medallion silver, SPG plat and Alaska mvp are only eligible for upgrade on paid tickets.

    • I have once received an upgrade as a Silver on an award, but I’m fairly certain it was because Economy was oversold. I prefer UA in this regard, Silvers at least make the upgrade list and also get Premier Access to security.

  2. Delta Silver Medallion elites can’t upgrade award tickets, so not sure why Alaska MVP elites would be able to upgrade.

    • I honestly didn’t think it would work, but there wasn’t anything I found saying it wasn’t allowed. (Delta clearly says on their website upgrades on awards aren’t allowed for Silver Medallions.)

      Also I have learned that computer systems don’t always work the way they should. For example earlier this year I was given a first class upgrade on US Airways on an award ticket even though my American Airlines Platinum status had expired. So I was on an award (shouldn’t have been given the upgrade) and I was no longer an elite (shouldn’t have been given the upgrade), but somehow I was given the upgrade.

      The purpose of this was more informational, since in all of my searches I couldn’t find a concrete answer. Like I said in the post it is entirely possible that I missed it somehow. I’m definitely not complaining and the policy makes perfect sense.

      Thanks Gene!


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