After a Year of Having Delta Elite Status, I’m Convinced It’s Overrated – Even With the Upgrades

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After a Year of Having Delta Elite Status, I’m Convinced It’s Overrated – Even With the Upgrades

Brett HolzhauerAfter a Year of Having Delta Elite Status, I’m Convinced It’s Overrated – Even With the UpgradesMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Many frequent travelers value their airline elite status as it comes with all sorts of perks and upgrades.  In 2017, I was flying very frequently for work with Delta as I am based in Salt Lake City, and earned my very first airline status as Delta Silver Medallion member.

It isn’t a huge deal as many readers of ours earn much higher statuses, but I still did a happy dance when I earned it.  The flight attendants on my flight to Austin, Texas when I earned my status even made me a care package and gave me a bottle of wine!

Throughout all of 2018, I flew Delta primarily for leisure, and did enjoy a decent amount of upgrades.  However, it was pretty overrated in my opinion. And I don’t think airline status is worth going out of your way to earn.  And some of the perks, like free checked bags, you can get just by having a certain Delta credit cards, like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express, or Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express.

My Delta Elite Status Got Me Upgraded on Half of My Delta Flights

I flew on Delta 16 times in 2018.  Of the 16 times, I was upgraded 8 times.  Of those 8 upgrades, 4 were to First Class.  But I was mostly upgraded on shorter flights.  For example, I was upgraded to First Class on a Salt Lake City to Burbank most recently.  First Class upgrades sound great except when you are in the air for less than 2 hours.  And with Delta now selling upgrades for points, these complimentary upgrades are likely to be available to elite members less frequently.

For flyers looking to become loyal to one airlines and gain status, I would argue airline status is only worth it if you fly multiple times a month consistently.  I estimate if I would have traveled for work in all of 2017 instead of just a few months, I would have reached Gold if not higher.  At that point, it may have been something worth having.  But I wouldn’t recommend it as something worth chasing.

Bottom Line

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate any upgrade possible.  My wife and I were upgraded to First Class from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and back, and even a quick 45 minutes in the air sitting up front is enjoyable.  However, as more efforts to devalue frequent flyers are occurring, it makes elite status benefits less valuable to the semi-frequent traveler.  And if upgrades only occur on occasion, or only on short distance flights, it just seems really overrated to me.

Unless you are traveling very often, these low level statuses with airlines really aren’t that great.

Do you have low-level status with an airline?  Have you found it to be overrated?  Or extremely lucrative?

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I think you are missing the point entirely of status with this article. As a non frequent flyer with a low status it of course is not that important. I am a frequent business traveler and the company policy is delta comfort or main. The extra room in first on a 2, 3 hr flight or longer is HUGE when trying to work. I need the seat to be my office when flying cross country (based in NY) first on a 6 hr flight, huge upgrade.

I also enjoy higher mileage credits which means my family flies for free on vacations.

Most importantly, on an oversold or cancelled flight I get early priority. I never get booted for oversold and always get a priority selection of a flight if weather or other issues screw me up

And no cost to catch an earlier flight to get me home to my family.

I understand to an infrequent traveler it is a moot point, but as a frequent flyer I do count heavily on my earnings.

I buy the First Class upgrade when I fly. Last year in Delta from ATL to PDX, a loudmouth boarded screaming about being relegated to coach when he was Diamond.
He actually asked some of us our status and I replied cash is King.

Interesting, I have never heard anyone complaining about that, I figured if you really wanted first class you pay for it that’s when I’m upgrading to first class I am extremely grateful and I think it’s really great, as I never expect to be upgraded, I just think of it as a special bonus! For being a gold member!

I agree with the phrase ‘cash is king’. I have heard far too many passengers complaining about being ‘stuck in coach in spite of status’. It usually begins as they are boarding. After about :10 after being seated I am tired of it, I do not want to hear it for 4+ hours. I casually mention I know a way to guarantee they always have a first class seat. Suddenly they are very attentive. I state ‘simply purchase a first class seat’. Usualy their face turns red, they tend to sputter a bit but finally that shut up. Thankfully they usually pout for the balance of the flight. So peaceful.

I agree with most who have responded. It is a “Rewards” program. Yes at silver or even Gold you may not reap a lot of Rewards, but as one response mentioned, you would never be booted from over sold, you do get Free upgrades and benefits. Once you reach a higher status the Rewards get higher, thus Reward for utilizing Delta. I have been Gold or equivalent on other airlines and Delta kick their butts.

I am currently Diamond Elite Medallion and have been for 8 years and it has been a choice I want to make to stick with Delta.

Oh! And Rewards, Choice benefits this past year I have received: Clear Membership paid for by Delta, Free SkyClub Membership, 50,000 Bonus Miles, Global Entry fee vouchure that paid for my Global Entry/TSA PreCheck….. upgraded from coach booking automatically to Delta Comfort and then to 1st Class over 90% of the time. All for just doing what I would have to for work. Oh also, my wife and I use Miles to fly Free on vacation a couple times a year.

So, like that 3% Cash Back Credit Card you have, if you only spend $100 dollars you only get $3 cash back. You get Rewarded for consistency in using.

I have Elite Plus status (Gold Medallion) with Delta. From all my international travels, I only saw the benefits of an Elite Plus in Asia with partner airlines. They treat you like royalty.

Unfortunately, a silver medallion is only the beginning of earning status. There are literally thousands of Diamond Medallions who have spent thousands of dollars on Delta to earn that status. Even people with 3 to 6 million flying miles. Just like anything else, you work your way up. Even some Diamond Medallions have to sit in coach once in a while. I think the reward is worth it, if you keep on flying! Most airlines also don’t really give a lot away until you reach Gold status.

Also, you didn’t mention that you can use the Delta Sky Lounge for free if you’re a
gold member or above, we went on a cruise and coming back from Japan we got to the airport 4 hours early where you get food to eat you get a great place to sit and relax, they even let my mother in also for no extra cost. Also when I am traveling with friends or family, if if I booked their ticket with mine they also upgraded. We landed in Seattle. And then from Seattle to Salt Lake I got upgraded to First Class. Believe me that was the best couple of hours sleep I’ve ever got I think it was even better than my bed at home!

The Gold status when flying only International will get you in the sky club. No domestic first class. Overcrowding!

Delta silver, that is cute. I have silver on some airlines by just being a partner with some hotels! And not even flying with them at all.
Delta is actually one of the good loyalty programs. When you really fly a little, Delta diamond gets you international upgrades, worth thousands of dollars, for free!

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