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Definitive Thread: Use Sky Miles to upgrade on VS

Old May 27, 18, 12:36 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: audidudi
DRAFT WIKI: I've started this on May 27, 2018 as a first pass, but need to pull more info from the rest of the thread. Feel free to add!

What flights are eligible to be upgraded?
As relevant to this thread, original booking must be:
- DL ticketed (006 stock)
- DL marketed (DL flight #)
- VS operated

NOTE ON MIXED CABIN BOOKINGS: If you are booked in coach for a domestic portion on Delta and then connecting to a VS Premium Economy segment, and trying to upgrade only the VS PE segment with DL miles, the upgrade request may be rejected by Virgin when the DL agent attempt to process it. Ask to be transferred to the international reissue desk. Explain that they will need to remove the domestic coach portion of your flight, then process the upgrade, and then reattach the domestic Y portion. VS will accept the upgrade only when the coach segment has been removed, and this all needs to be done manually by Delta.

How do I know mileage upgrade space is available?
You can either call Delta and ask the agent to check or check online. If you are going to call, see note below about how to explain this to the phone agent. Or, follow instructions in the next section to check inventory online.

X
Checking online In advance:
- Upgrades on VS pull from the same inventory as award bookings. Upgrading to Upper Class requires G class inventory, upgrading to Premium Economy requires P class inventory. Note these are Virgin fare classes that will not display on delta.com. Delta's G and P fare classes are different and should not be considered for this purpose. Only a subset of G class inventory (and presumably also of P class inventory) is available for upgrades, so merely finding G availability via the Delta or Virgin websites, or via ExpertFlyer or other sources, does not necessarily mean an upgrade will be available. Unfortunately there is no public data source that can be used to double-check what Delta agents tell you about availability.
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  • Waitlisting is not available for mileage upgrades on Virgin Atlantic or any other partner flights.
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At the Airport Day of Depature:
  • VS regularly offers DOD upgrades at the airport.
  • Upgrades are available for cash (generally not the best value at ~$800 one way) or VS miles (same # miles as advance upgrades).
  • DOD upgrades using miles can only be done with VS miles, not Delta Sky Miles.
  • VS miles can be transferred from Amex MR. Transfer is usually instantaneous if you have linked your MR/VS accounts in advance, but as always Amex does not guarantee this so there is some risk involved in relying on the transfer while at the airport.

How do I request the upgrade?
  • You'll need to call Delta. Be prepared to spend some time and persistence, and HUCA if necessary. Know that agents are likely to be confused about this, so be patient and call when you have time for them to research this and possibly speak with a supervisor.
    • Consider saying something along these lines to the phone agent to help clue them in that this may be something they need to look up or get help with: "I am calling to upgrade, using Sky Miles, my Virgin Atlantic flight that I booked through Delta. I understand that this is a newer benefit that is now available through the Delta/Virgin Atlantic join-venture. I know from previously calling that this is not something all agents do regularly, so thanks so much for helping me figure this out."
    • Remind the agent to check the VS flight # (not DL #) for upgrade space. Many agents may tell you you are already in a premium cabin if you're booked in VS PE, without realizing that DL's G class is not the same as VS's G class. Some may also insist that it is not possible to upgrade a VS flight with Sky Miles (it was not possible before July 2017). Be polite, but ask for a supervisor.
    • Agents seem to find the correct instructions about all this when they look up the DL/VS joint venture notes in whatever system they use.
  • Waitlisting is not available for mileage upgrades on Virgin Atlantic or any other partner flights.

What should I see if/when my upgrade is correctly processed?
  • Your upgraded flight will now be a VS-marketed flight #.
  • You will be rebooked into the appropriate VS fare class.

Need more information on reticketing, seat selection, etc.

How much do upgrades cost?
Reports of upgrade costs are as follows (current as of May 2018):
- US<>UK, PE>UC = 25k RDM each way
- US<>UK, Y>UC = ???? each way
- US<>UK, Y>PE = ???? each way
When going from Y to PE/UC, you may need to pay the UK luxury tax (in USD or GBP) for flights exiting the UK.
When going from PE to UC, the luxury tax should not apply as it has already been charged on the PE fare.



A note about earning miles
Your upgraded ticket should still earn DL RDMs/MQMs/MQDs based on the originally purchased fare. However, the systems regularly get confused because the rebooked ticket will be identified as VS award inventory, ineligible for mileage earnings.
Keep your original (non-upgraded) receipt and monitor your miles earnings carefully. Calls or written requests via DL.com comments/complaints will result in proper mileage earnings being applied, but you may need to be persistent.
Need information about crediting flights to VS or other programs.



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Definitive Thread: Use Sky Miles to upgrade on VS

Old Aug 2, 17, 9:29 am
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Orange County Commuter
i asked about the tax. Agent says it's only on departure from U.K.

my flight is 10/7. I did use Expert Flyer. Got an alert yesterday but by the time I called it was gone. Woke up early today and saw another alter so I tried again. (The alerts both came around 3 am eastern)
I was just going to post this. The luxury tax is only in one direction, from Great Britain to the USA, when you depart from most UK airports. [IIRC something like Jersey is an exception.] If you depart from most other places in Europe, for example, and connect through LHR, there's no luxury tax, although there is a similar tax from departures from CDG/France.
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Old Aug 2, 17, 10:04 am
  #17  
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Yeah the luxury tax was just a way to stick it to more business pax flying LHR-US. The UK is great at finding plenty of ways to tax the crap out of people;
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Old Aug 2, 17, 12:49 pm
  #18  
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Anyone else care to say the same thing as the previous poster about the luxury tax?
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Old Aug 2, 17, 3:35 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by jdrtravel
Anyone else care to say the same thing as the previous poster about the luxury tax?
*raises hand*

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Old Aug 23, 17, 3:45 pm
  #20  
 
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Coming back to this thread to report that I was able to upgrade with SkyMiles from PE to UC on VS and was not charged the luxury tax. The flight was MAN-BOS.

I had tried earlier (about 3 weeks before flight) to upgrade but the DL agent said it wasn't available. She seemed a little confused and talked about VS not designating all flights as upgradeable. Then a couple of days before the flight I called the DL Plat line from England to ask again. The DL agent called VS to arrange it. It took quite a while, with several times on hold, but the DL agent was always positive that the upgrade space was available; it was just taking time to get through the process.

I don't know why the luxury tax was not charged, but am happy about that!
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Old Aug 23, 17, 4:35 pm
  #21  
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Originally Posted by CarmenOM
Coming back to this thread to report that I was able to upgrade with SkyMiles from PE to UC on VS and was not charged the luxury tax. The flight was MAN-BOS.

I had tried earlier (about 3 weeks before flight) to upgrade but the DL agent said it wasn't available. She seemed a little confused and talked about VS not designating all flights as upgradeable. Then a couple of days before the flight I called the DL Plat line from England to ask again. The DL agent called VS to arrange it. It took quite a while, with several times on hold, but the DL agent was always positive that the upgrade space was available; it was just taking time to get through the process.

I don't know why the luxury tax was not charged, but am happy about that!
If you booked PE you already paid it. PE/UC are both higher classes of service then economy.
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Old Aug 23, 17, 8:55 pm
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by flyerCO
If you booked PE you already paid it. PE/UC are both higher classes of service then economy.
Thanks for the explanation. I thought that UC might have a higher luxury tax than PE.
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Old Aug 23, 17, 11:37 pm
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by CarmenOM
Coming back to this thread to report that I was able to upgrade with SkyMiles from PE to UC on VS and was not charged the luxury tax. The flight was MAN-BOS.

I had tried earlier (about 3 weeks before flight) to upgrade but the DL agent said it wasn't available. She seemed a little confused and talked about VS not designating all flights as upgradeable. Then a couple of days before the flight I called the DL Plat line from England to ask again. The DL agent called VS to arrange it. It took quite a while, with several times on hold, but the DL agent was always positive that the upgrade space was available; it was just taking time to get through the process.

I don't know why the luxury tax was not charged, but am happy about that!
For the sake of completeness, how was your flight booked? DL or VS flight number? And DL or VS ticket stock?
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Old Aug 24, 17, 6:35 am
  #24  
 
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Originally Posted by BenA
For the sake of completeness, how was your flight booked? DL or VS flight number? And DL or VS ticket stock?
I booked a Premium Economy itinerary on delta.com for MSP-CDG-MAN-BOS-MSP. Initially all flights were listed by their Delta flight numbers. The outbound flights were W fares and the return fares were G. The BOS-MSP flight booked into the F cabin. The CDG-MAN flight was in PE.

Then I used 20,000 miles to upgrade the MSP-CDG segment, which changed the flight to the AF flight number and the fare class to O. When I used another 20,000 to upgrade the VS flight to UC that flight changed to the VS flight # but the G fare remained the same on the receipt.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 8:20 am
  #25  
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I keep watching my November flight but no space is open yet. In fact, there is no space on VS on any USA-LHR flights in November, so I'm hopeful that they just don't load inventory this far in advance and that I still have a shot.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 9:55 am
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by jdrtravel
I keep watching my November flight but no space is open yet. In fact, there is no space on VS on any USA-LHR flights in November, so I'm hopeful that they just don't load inventory this far in advance and that I still have a shot.
My good outcome on this upgrade may have been at least partly because I was flying out of MAN instead of LHR. UC had lots of empty seats on my flight, whereas I think the LHR-USA flights are often full in UC. Or at least they have been every time I've asked about day of departure upgrades.
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Old Sep 2, 17, 7:11 pm
  #27  
 
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A Warning Regarding Mileage Earnings.....

Originally Posted by CarmenOM
I booked a Premium Economy itinerary on delta.com for MSP-CDG-MAN-BOS-MSP. Initially all flights were listed by their Delta flight numbers. The outbound flights were W fares and the return fares were G. The BOS-MSP flight booked into the F cabin. The CDG-MAN flight was in PE.

Then I used 20,000 miles to upgrade the MSP-CDG segment, which changed the flight to the AF flight number and the fare class to O. When I used another 20,000 to upgrade the VS flight to UC that flight changed to the VS flight # but the G fare remained the same on the receipt.
I'm quoting myself above to give all the background on the initial booking and subsequent changes. I have resolved it all now, but I ran into some challenges in getting the appropriate MQM and Skymiles (I have the AmEx waiver for the MQD, so don't pay attention to that) for the VS MAN-BOS flight.

I believe the problem was caused by the fact that the MAN-BOS flight listing on my itinerary changed from the DL codeshare to the VS flight but retained the G fare. There is no G fare on VS, so I didn't get any credits for the flight. I made two phone calls to the Plat desk, which were not helpful; the successful tactic was an email I posted through the DL website explaining the problem. It was corrected within about 24 hours.

All of the itinerary as initially booked should have (and now has) earned 150% MQM (the missing mileage included 4,700+ MQM); the SkyMiles upgrades should not have changed those earnings. In retrospect, I should have questioned the G fare on VS before the flight.

I pass this along in the hopes it will help someone else avoid such a situation.
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Old Jan 13, 18, 8:03 am
  #28  
 
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Just wanted to revive this thread with a question. Does anyone know what fare class you need to get an upgrade from VS PE to VS UC? I found a flight with availability in UC, but when I call in Delta doesn't see any upgrade availability. Is it still G? Or is it a different fare class?
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Old Jan 13, 18, 10:20 pm
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by jrkmsp
Just wanted to revive this thread with a question. Does anyone know what fare class you need to get an upgrade from VS PE to VS UC? I found a flight with availability in UC, but when I call in Delta doesn't see any upgrade availability. Is it still G? Or is it a different fare class?
I dont know the answer to the fare class question as when I did this upgrade DL was still using W for PE on VS. However I can tell you that when I did it (last August) the first time I called, about three weeks before the flight, the agent said there was no availability. I still think the agent may not have known how to do it, as she insisted that VS only allowed mileage upgrades on certain designated flights and mine wasnt one to them. I tried again about three days before the flight and was able to get the upgrade. The process took a long time and involved the DL agent calling VS to arrange it while I waited on the phone. So my advice is to keep trying. Availability may fluctuate and some DL agents may not know how to do the upgrade.
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Old Jan 14, 18, 12:00 am
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by jrkmsp
Just wanted to revive this thread with a question. Does anyone know what fare class you need to get an upgrade from VS PE to VS UC? I found a flight with availability in UC, but when I call in Delta doesn't see any upgrade availability. Is it still G? Or is it a different fare class?
I upgraded a flight a few days ago and the segment was reticketed from DL codeshare G (paid) to VS G (upgrade inventory).

I called once to check availability and once to confirm the upgrade. Both agents initially said there was no space, but Id done an ExpertFlyer search that indicates there was. In both cases, I asked them to double check using the VS flight number, and that was the magic incantation to get them to do the right thing and find the space that was available.
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