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FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: Consolidated: Upgrading on Alaska Airlines as a Delta elite
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If a Delta Gold or higher you are eligible for upgrades on most AS Flights.

DL does not upgrade AS elites to Hawaii, therefore AS does not upgrade DL elites to Hawaii.

Be sure to check your PNR on alaskaair.com for seat assignments. A quick call to AS with flight # and date can yield the AS PNR. Sometimes it takes 24 hours for this info to come from DL though. Your reservation should show First Class waitlisted if it has been requested.

Upgrades on AS are after AS elites are upgraded, and although happen at T-24, can happen up to a full day earlier (T-48).

There are no complimentary upgrades on award tickets operated by Alaska.
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Old Dec 9, 10, 7:04 pm   #1
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Consolidated: Upgrading on Alaska Airlines as a Delta elite

After wading through the 12 pages of the AS upgrade thread, I think I'm starting to get a handle on the best way to handle upgrades on an Alaska Airlines flight as a DL elite, and wanted to post a quick summary for others to review. I'll try to edit this post to fix inaccuracies as they're pointed out, and moderators should feel free to do so as well.

Hope this is helpful! Thanks in advance for reading/reviewing; special thanks to RobOnLI, Stripe, GBadger, mudbug31, skip1421, opus17, bradfrancini, philfna, stephem, akonradi and all the other reviewers for questions or corrections that have been incorporated into this post.

Here's my understanding of how it works:

At booking time:
  • Make sure you at least have Gold status on Delta.
  • Book a ticket. If you booked on an Alaska ticket (ticket number begins 027), you're good to go. If you booked on a Delta ticket (ticket number begins 006), you need to call Alaska Airlines with your ticket number to ask for your six character Alaska Airlines record locator, which is NOT the same as your Delta record locator. (For new bookings, your best bet is to book through AlaskaAir.com if at all possible to minimize this and other hassles.)
  • Check your itinerary on AlaskaAir.com to make sure your SkyMiles number appears correctly. If it does, the MP# field should read as "MP#: Delta ########## - DL Elite". (AlaskaAir.com doesn't show your full status level, but you may see it in your confirmation e-mail as "Delta SkyMiles Elite [Gold|Platinum|Diamond] Member" if you booked your ticket through Alaska directly.) If you don't see DL Elite, remove and readd your number.
  • Pick a preferred coach seat on alaskaair.com once your Medallion status has been cleared.
  • If you booked through Delta on a 006 ticket and/or a codeshare flight number, ignore everything Delta.com says about your Alaska flight segments. The seat assignments shown there may not be real and you are not on any upgrade list, even if Delta erroneously says "Upgrade Requested". The only reliable way to manage your AS flights is using your Alaska record locator on alaskaair.com.

Before the flight:
  • Upgrades are processed for AS elites at various intervals 72, 48, and 24 hours before the flight. Until recently, Delta elites could not be added to the advance upgrade list - but now, this is possible. There is some conflicting information about order of upgrade processing; in my experience, upgrades appear to be processed in order of upgrade request time without respect to status - yes, this means that a Delta elite may find themselves ahead of a higher tier Delta elite or even an MVP Gold if they did not clear at their initial 72 hour window.
  • If an upgrade does not clear before T-24, an additional opportunity a Delta elite has to get an upgrade seat is during the online checkin process. If any upgrade inventory is available and advance upgrades have all cleared, the remaining inventory is given out first come first serve to any eligible elite that requests it during checkin.
  • If you have ExpertFlyer access, monitor inventory in the A and U buckets. U is required for an upgrade to clear. A is irrelevant except it's closely correlated with U inventory and can be a good indicator of whether U will be available for your flight.
  • Attempt to go through the online checkin process on AlaskaAir.com at exactly T-24 before your flight.
  • If U is available, you will see a small link at the top of the seat assignment page: "Upgrade to First Class". Have some faith and click it - it won't automatically charge you despite it looking like an upsell If you saw the link at all, inventory should be available and you should clear at this point.
  • If no upgrade inventory is available, you are free to continue checking in if you want to.
  • At T-23.5, the flight goes under airport control. U inventory will no longer be visible through ExpertFlyer, but it might be released randomly up until the flight departs (thereby opening up a seat you can snag online). To detect when this inventory may appear, you can keep monitoring A by setting up an alert.
  • If you think U may have opened up, try checking in again online in the hopes of getting the Upgrade hyperlink. You have five chances to do this before AlaskaAir.com will lock you out.
  • If you are traveling on a reservation with two or more passengers, you MUST split it to be eligible for upgrades. Even a reservation with two MVP Gold elites will not be eligible for upgrades in Alaska's upgrade system - it is much more restrictive in this regard than Delta's upgrade process. You can split the reservation using online checkin if U inventory is available, but it's much better to call Alaska in advance to split it before the advance upgrade agent runs.
  • As noted above, if you are traveling with a companion, there are no companion upgrades on Alaska for DL elites. That said, if you're booked on the same PNR, you can easily split the PNR at checkin time if you need to. When checking in, tick the box to check in only the elite member. If an upgrade clears, the elite will be on a new, split PNR, and the non-elite will keep any preferred seating they were already assigned.

At the airport:
  • DL elites receive a single free checked bag allowance on AS when seated in economy.
  • If your F upgrade has cleared, you will receive a 2 free bag allowance.
  • DL elites appear to be able to use the AS security lines - the posted signs don't usually say anything explicit about DL elites, but the line monitors appear to accept Delta SkyMiles cards for access.
  • Alaska supports TSA PreCheck; make sure to put your trusted traveler ID number in on Alaska's site to ensure your Alaska-printed boarding passes will be eligible. As of 8/2013, they do not print the TSA PreCheck indicator on their boarding passes yet, though.
  • Kiosks apparently behave the same way as online checkin - if there is U inventory, there will be an "Upgrade to First Class" button that grants an on the spot confirmed F seat, and if not, that button will be grayed out.
  • No luck with scoring an upgrade via kiosk or OLCI? Within T-24, there is an upgrade list at the airport. If you are not on it, you can ask a gate agent or Board Room agent to be added to this list. Delta elites do appear to be at the bottom of the airport list below all AS elites, though, and the agent may refuse if the list is already very long.
  • Occasionally, people have reported success with being upgraded on the spot when asking to be added to the upgrade list or asking about upgrade status at the gate, even if U inventory is not open. This is likely dependent entirely on the load of the flight and the length of the existing upgrade list.
  • A printout of the upgrade and standby list is frequently posted at the gate podium for passengers to review, if you want to check if you're on it.

After the flight:
  • It appears miles post on Wednesdays, once a week. This is anecdotal and has yet to be verified, but everyone I've talked to so far sees their AS flights reported to Delta on Wednesdays.

Open questions:
  • Connecting segments and timing. If you're on a flight with two legs on AS (LAX-PDX-ANC and back, for example), does the T-24 rule apply to the first leg and, if so, assuming U inventory was available on both the LAX-PDX and PDX-ANC legs, would you be able to upgrade via OLCI for both at that time?
  • What is the specific difference between checking in at T-24 and T-23.5? I've seen references to both but don't fully understand the difference.
  • Are space-available upgrades available to Hawaii?
  • Any other mistakes I made compiling this list?

Last edited by BenA; Aug 18, 13 at 2:27 pm Reason: Updating to note that DL elites are now eligible for advance upgrades on the waitlist.
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Old Dec 9, 10, 10:22 pm   #2
  
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Thanks for the comprehensive summary! The implementation of this program has been so inconsistent and spotty. It would be nice if DL would post something simple and clear like this. Until then, I imagine most would be prone to just sticking to DL metal.
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Old Dec 9, 10, 11:33 pm   #3
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Definitely agreed that implementation has been spotty - although a lot of the kinks seem to have been worked out now, and scoring an upgrade on my flight tomorrow turned out to be completely painless once I learned to try the "Upgrade to First Class" link.

I'll always prefer to book Delta metal when I can, and upgrade reciprocity likely won't change that. AS isn't a bad airline, though, and living in Seattle it can be hard to avoid them in certain situations (in particular, SEA-SFO is nearly impossible to book on DL metal, and if you're time constrained an AS direct flight starts to look pretty attractive on other routes too...)

Now that AS elites are getting upgrades on Delta as well (which started a week or two ago, apparently), I'm optimistic things will be a bit more consistent from here on out.

Plus, the AS board rooms have pancake machines and soup. So full of awesome.
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Old Dec 9, 10, 11:58 pm   #4
  
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This is really helpful. BenA, thanks for taking the time to put it together and post it.
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Old Dec 10, 10, 9:38 am   #5
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenA View Post
[*]Attempt to check in on AlaskaAir.com at exactly T-24 before your flight. On the seat assignment page, there's a small link at the top: "Upgrade to First Class". Have some faith and click it - it won't automatically charge you despite it looking like an upsell If upgrade inventory is available, you should clear at this point.
This part isn't correct. The "Upgrade your flight" link *only* appears if upgrades are available. Otherwise that link will not appear at all and you will know right away whether you can be upgraded or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenA View Post
[*]As I understand it, there is no upgrade list on Alaska within T-24; you need to be proactive with chatting with airport agents if you want the upgrade. This is apparently a sore point with AS elites and may change around the end of 2010, so this information may be out of date by the time you read it.
This part also isn't correct. There is definitely an upgrade list under T-24. Most airport stations print out the upgrade & standby lists and post it at the counter of your flight. DL elites can be put on this list at airport check-in or by the Board Room.

The sore point right now with AS elites is that anyone doing OLCI with U inventory available can snag the upgrade. AS currently doesn't have a process kick off when U becomes available to upgrade the first eligible MVP Gold or MVP elite. So if a DL elite checks in and U just opened up, the DL elite can grab it. This is what many are unhappy with and this is what AS is fixing in the next month or so. Supposedly as AS fixes this bug they will also add automatic addition to the upgrade list for DL elites. I haven't heard if they are adding automatic upgrade processing for DL elites, though.

-RM
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Old Dec 10, 10, 9:52 am   #6
  
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This is a little off topic but kind of a relevant question:

Don't AS Elites get "Sky Priority" and free checked bags on Delta? If so, why wouldn't DL elites get free checked bags on AS???
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Old Dec 10, 10, 10:22 am   #7
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenA View Post
[*]As I understand it, there is no upgrade list on Alaska within T-24; you need to be proactive with chatting with airport agents if you want the upgrade. This is apparently a sore point with AS elites and may change around the end of 2010, so this information may be out of date by the time you read it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
This part also isn't correct. There is definitely an upgrade list under T-24. Most airport stations print out the upgrade & standby lists and post it at the counter of your flight. DL elites can be put on this list at airport check-in or by the Board Room.
There is an airport upgrade list. The AS GA at SNA showed it to me yesterday. I was not on the list but she showed me the number of AS elites already on it and convinced me it would be pointless to add me. Apparently DL elites are ranked behind all AS elites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobOnLI View Post
The "Upgrade your flight" link *only* appears if upgrades are available. Otherwise that link will not appear at all and you will know right away whether you can be upgraded or not. ...

DL elites can be put on this list at airport check-in or by the Board Room.

The sore point right now with AS elites is that anyone doing OLCI with U inventory available can snag the upgrade. AS currently doesn't have a process kick off when U becomes available to upgrade the first eligible MVP Gold or MVP elite. So if a DL elite checks in and U just opened up, the DL elite can grab it. This is what many are unhappy with and this is what AS is fixing in the next month or so. Supposedly as AS fixes this bug they will also add automatic addition to the upgrade list for DL elites. I haven't heard if they are adding automatic upgrade processing for DL elites, though.
This appears to match my experience on Monday. No upgrades available at T-24 but I used a kiosk upon landing at SEA to see if I could change my Y seat assignment. This was about two hours before departure and there was an "Upgrade to First Class" button. Click it and it says it will check availability and let you know how much it costs. After a couple of seconds it moved me to F, no charge. I'm guessing I got lucky and snagged a U seat that had just opened up. (FWIW, NW had this same "bug", as did CO, but CO eventually fixed theirs.)

Upon check-in in SNA for my return flight, the kiosk had the "Upgrade to First Class" button greyed out and F was indeed full.

It's not clear whether or how DL elites are automatically added to the airport upgrade list. On my outbound, my first flight was on DL so DL checked me in on the AS flight. The AS phone agent the night before said I was on the upgrade list.

On my return, I checked in on alaskair.com. When I called after OLCI to inquire about the upgrade, the agent said that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was on a DL ticket. That was clearly wrong, but because F was sold out at that point there was no point in pushing back. I was never added to the upgrade list.

On both flights AS had my DL status correct.

For now, DL elites have to be pretty proactive to get the upgrade. IMO the old system of AS upgrade certs we had at NW was simpler and worked better. I was 100% using those.
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Old Dec 10, 10, 10:38 am   #8
  
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Originally Posted by BenA View Post
[*]Check your itinerary on Alaska.com to make sure your SkyMiles number appears correctly. If it does, you should appear as "Delta SkyMiles Elite [Gold|Platinum|Diamond] Member #******####". If not, remove and readd your number.

Interesting...Have others found this to be the case? My reservation (DL flight number on AS metal) shows my SM # correctly on alaskaair.com, but does not say anything about my status.

If it's supposed to be there, then this would explain why when I called in, the AS phone agent was "doing me favors due to my wife's gold status with Delta". As a PM, that really puzzled me at the time...
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Old Dec 10, 10, 10:41 am   #9
  
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Well, I'll be... When I check my wife's reservation, it shows "DL-elite" next to her number. Mine says no such thing... Time for a call to AS, I guess.
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Old Dec 10, 10, 10:47 am   #10
  
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Well, I'll be... When I check my wife's reservation, it shows "DL-elite" next to her number. Mine says no such thing... Time for a call to AS, I guess.
I almost always have to call AS to make sure my DL number is properly inserted into the reservation, but when it is, it always shows up as 'DL-Elite.'

Quote:
Originally Posted by GYEWorldTraveler View Post
This is a little off topic but kind of a relevant question:

Don't AS Elites get "Sky Priority" and free checked bags on Delta? If so, why wouldn't DL elites get free checked bags on AS???
AFAIK, AS Golds and 75K Golds can use Sky Priority and get free baggage, etc. No such provision is currently in place for DL Elites/Sky Priority, one of my biggest gripes with flying AS at this point.
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Old Dec 10, 10, 10:50 am   #11
  
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I almost always have to call AS to make sure my DL number is properly inserted into the reservation, but when it is, it always shows up as 'DL-Elite.'
Ok, thanks. I'll do that next week since my status is changing between now and then!
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Old Dec 10, 10, 10:51 am   #12
  
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Originally Posted by mudbug31 View Post
I almost always have to call AS to make sure my DL number is properly inserted into the reservation, but when it is, it always shows up as 'DL-Elite.'



AFAIK, AS Golds and 75K Golds can use Sky Priority and get free baggage, etc. No such provision is currently in place for DL Elites/Sky Priority, one of my biggest gripes with flying AS at this point.
Thats what I thought....That is complete BS that DL Elites don't get free bags and AS elites do on DL. One more reason I won't fly AS when going to places on the West Coast and Mexico even though DLs site tries to sell me a ticket on AS all the time. Really strange.
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Old Dec 10, 10, 11:49 am   #13
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Thanks all for the corrections! I've updated the OP to fix my errors... really appreciate everyone taking the time to chime in.
  • Corrected lots of information about the upgrade list, how to get on it, and how things are likely to change once Alaska fixes the ability for us to steal seats out of the U bucket
  • Added mention that kiosks are as good as OLCI for getting U upgrades.
  • Clarified that Upgrade to First Class link only appears if there is U inventory.
  • Fixed explanation of how your DL number should appear online (Bizarrely, AS shows your full status in the booking confirmation email, but not on alaskaair.com, which had me confused.)

-Ben
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Old Dec 10, 10, 2:54 pm   #14
  
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Originally Posted by Stripe View Post
It's not clear whether or how DL elites are automatically added to the airport upgrade list. On my outbound, my first flight was on DL so DL checked me in on the AS flight. The AS phone agent the night before said I was on the upgrade list.

For now, DL elites have to be pretty proactive to get the upgrade. IMO the old system of AS upgrade certs we had at NW was simpler and worked better. I was 100% using those.
Again, DL elites are not automatically added to the upgrade list for AS. Even if you finish OLCI and don't wait for "U" to open up you will never appear on the upgrade list. The only way a DL elite can get on the AS upgrade list right now is either: 1) have a gate agent put them on; 2) have a Board Room agent put them on; 3) have a check-in agent put them on. AFAIK right now, not even the kiosk will add a DL elite to the airport upgrade list after you check-in.

And DL elites have to be prepared to push the AS agents when they refuse to add us to the upgrade list. You do have the right to be there and the AS agent should add you.

The AS agent is correct in that all DL elites (even Diamonds who fly a heck of a lot more than most AS elites) are behind all MVP's.

Yes, DL does provide Sky Priority and free baggage to AS elites as if they were DL elites. It's sort of one-sided right now.

-RM
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Old Dec 10, 10, 3:31 pm   #15
  
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I would also add the status of upgrades to HI on the "open questions" list.
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