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Definitive Thread: Use Sky Miles to upgrade on VS

Old May 27, 18, 12:36 pm
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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 May 15, 18, 5:49 pm
  #61  
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Originally Posted by jdrtravel
I wish I did, but I can't remember, but I think it should be about the same. The cash price was something like $800 one way.
Good to know. It looks like Amex>VS transfers are near-instantaneous, so if nothing is available from DL and VS is offering for 25k VS miles at the airport, I might roll the dice on a transfer while I'm standing there.

Check back in the VS forum about a month from now for a post from me asking for creative ways to offload 25k VS miles that didn't transfer in time. :P
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Old May 15, 18, 6:12 pm
  #62  
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Good luck and please do make sure to report back.
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Old May 15, 18, 6:47 pm
  #63  
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Just called Delta and got a good agent who immediately knew what I was asking for, so will add a data point which is really just a newly-dated confirmation of what I've seen elsewhere on FT.

- No space was available on my flight. Per earlier posts/other threads, this matches with the fact that this flight does not show up as an option when I search for an award booking on DL.com.
- Agent volunteered that she had to look for the VS flight #, not the DL codeshare flight #. She also encouraged me to remind other agents of this if/when I call again, as "we've got some new folks who might not know that yet."
- Confirmed that PE>>UC would cost me 25k DL RDM one-way (JFK-LHR). I didn't ask about the luxury tax as I believe that only applies ex-UK.
- She mentioned that VS does sometimes release more space and the UC cabin is nowhere near full, so to call back and check. She also encouraged me to call back as often as I wanted, since there's no way to check for it online.

I guess I'll call back every couple days to keep checking.
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Old May 19, 18, 6:14 am
  #64  
 
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We are flying JFK to LHR this coming week. We are booked into PE and I keep calling Delta (and checking VS website) for miles upgrade. Nothing

As of this morning, on EF Upper Deck is showing less than half full. Does VS open up more seats for mileage upgrade? Is this something I can try at the VS CLub @ JFK?
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Old May 19, 18, 8:15 am
  #65  
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Originally Posted by OneHourPhoto
We are flying JFK to LHR this coming week. We are booked into PE and I keep calling Delta (and checking VS website) for miles upgrade. Nothing

As of this morning, on EF Upper Deck is showing less than half full. Does VS open up more seats for mileage upgrade? Is this something I can try at the VS CLub @ JFK?
VS does have a day of departure upgrade scheme I believe, but only if using VS miles, not DL. I dont think there is any established process to make something happen at the airport, unlike with KLM upgrades, but not sure.

If youre going to ask, Id recommend talking to an agent at the check-in desk, not the lounge. Most VS lounge staff arent fully trained as reservations agents (or just dont do it very often so arent expert users who would know stuff like this) unlike at SkyClubs where the agents are often among the most knowledgeable you can find.
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Old May 19, 18, 8:44 am
  #66  
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Originally Posted by OneHourPhoto
We are flying JFK to LHR this coming week. We are booked into PE and I keep calling Delta (and checking VS website) for miles upgrade. Nothing

As of this morning, on EF Upper Deck is showing less than half full. Does VS open up more seats for mileage upgrade? Is this something I can try at the VS CLub @ JFK?
They may also offer cash upgrades. But just because there is space it does not automatically mean they will be offered.

No harm in asking at check-in though be prepared for a 'sorry not today'
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Old May 19, 18, 9:48 am
  #67  
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear
They may also offer cash upgrades. But just because there is space it does not automatically mean they will be offered.

No harm in asking at check-in though be prepared for a 'sorry not today'

If there are open seats they will almost always, IME, offer cash upgrades. They seem to prefer this over mileage upgrades. The cash upgrades are not cheap and from JFK, probably don't represent a great value if you are already seated in PE for the relatively short flight.
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Old May 19, 18, 10:13 am
  #68  
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Originally Posted by bgriff


VS does have a day of departure upgrade scheme I believe, but only if using VS miles, not DL. I dont think there is any established process to make something happen at the airport, unlike with KLM upgrades, but not sure.

If youre going to ask, Id recommend talking to an agent at the check-in desk, not the lounge. Most VS lounge staff arent fully trained as reservations agents (or just dont do it very often so arent expert users who would know stuff like this) unlike at SkyClubs where the agents are often among the most knowledgeable you can find.
I just realized that I booked my upcoming trip with only a 70 min layover at JFK, so I'm unlikely to even have time at the VS Clubhouse. Could I inquire with VS agents when I check in at ATL? Or the GA at JFK? Obviously I won't be going back out to the ticketing desk at JFK.

OTOH they just swapped my JFK-LHR to a 789 and I have a decent PE seat, so if I fly in PE I'm not going to be upset about it. Will be my first 787 flight!
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Old May 19, 18, 10:26 am
  #69  
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Originally Posted by gooselee
I just realized that I booked my upcoming trip with only a 70 min layover at JFK, so I'm unlikely to even have time at the VS Clubhouse. Could I inquire with VS agents when I check in at ATL? Or the GA at JFK? Obviously I won't be going back out to the ticketing desk at JFK.

OTOH they just swapped my JFK-LHR to a 789 and I have a decent PE seat, so if I fly in PE I'm not going to be upset about it. Will be my first 787 flight!

The last time I flew the upgrades are managed by the check in desk but the lounge was also selling them. They also seemed to sell out rather quickly. The gate agent should be able to process it if there are any left. I don't think that the ATL agents will be able to help you but it's worth asking. It seems to be managed by the station manager.
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Old May 19, 18, 11:55 am
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Just to add another data point, I have been offered cash upgrades at the VS Clubhouses in JFK and in LHR. They were in the neighborhood of $800-900.

These offered upgrades were from Premium Economy to Upper Class.

Last edited by CarmenOM; May 19, 18 at 2:32 pm Reason: Clarification
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Old May 19, 18, 12:44 pm
  #71  
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Originally Posted by CarmenOM
Just to add another data point, I have been offered cash upgrades at the VS Clubhouses in JFK and in LHR. They were in the neighborhood of $800-900.
And again, unless you are really flush with cash (but then why not just book J now?), I really think this would be money much better spent on a hotel room upgrade in London or on some nice meals.
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Old May 19, 18, 2:34 pm
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Originally Posted by jdrtravel
And again, unless you are really flush with cash (but then why not just book J now?), I really think this would be money much better spent on a hotel room upgrade in London or on some nice meals.
I definitely agree, especially if you are already in Premium Economy, which is quite comfortable.
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Old May 19, 18, 4:05 pm
  #73  
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Originally Posted by jdrtravel
The last time I flew the upgrades are managed by the check in desk but the lounge was also selling them. They also seemed to sell out rather quickly. The gate agent should be able to process it if there are any left. I don't think that the ATL agents will be able to help you but it's worth asking. It seems to be managed by the station manager.
Thanks. Still hopeful I'll be able to use DL miles in advance. If not, oh well. I'll find some way to survive in PE.
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Old May 22, 18, 1:28 pm
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I'm going over the pond tomorrow DCA-JFK-LHR and then return on Tuesday 5/29. I tried to upgrade with miles going over, but there is only one seat left in UC; however, I was able to score a UC upgrade westbound. The agent at the DM desk told me that she had never done an upgrade like this before, but she was a real trouper and got it accomplished.

The cost was 25,000 SkyMiles, which is a pittance since VS usually wants thousands more for UC than for PE, and since they auction off seats on the day of departure for $800+. There was no additional UK departure tax; apparently the tax for PE and UC is the same, and I had already paid that.

I am very pleased.
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Old May 22, 18, 1:30 pm
  #75  
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Originally Posted by ND76
I'm going over the pond tomorrow DCA-JFK-LHR and then return on Tuesday 5/29. I tried to upgrade with miles going over, but there is only one seat left in UC; however, I was able to score a UC upgrade westbound. The agent at the DM desk told me that she had never done an upgrade like this before, but she was a real trouper and got it accomplished.

The cost was 25,000 SkyMiles, which is a pittance since VS usually wants thousands more for UC than for PE, and since they auction off seats on the day of departure for $800+. There was no additional UK departure tax; apparently the tax for PE and UC is the same, and I had already paid that.

I am very pleased.
Keep an eye on your miles earning when you get back. GUC upgrades into Upper Class, and I think also mileage upgrades, clear into G on Virgin, which is the same as the fare class for award seats, so if your flight is now showing as G on a VS flight number by default DL will give you no miles and you'll have to fight to get the miles you deserve according to your original coach fare.
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