Landing That Honeymoon Airline Upgrade

Video: How to get free travel upgrades.

Dear Tim—

At times people have said that I have a black belt in frequent flier programs, but even black belts had to learn from masters. So I seek your guidance.

As both my new wife and I travel quite a bit, I opted for a unique honeymoon. I cashed in all my miles on Delta for two round-the-world awards. Unfortunately, all I had enough for were coach seats. While I have traveled across oceans for a day of meetings, my wife has not. To make our flights comfortable, I've started with a shopping spree following Josh Roberts' article "The 10 Most Useful Travel Gifts Under $30." Of course, upgrades would make the flights a lot more comfortable.

Flying in Style: Posh Airline Seats

Do you think it will be possible to get upgrades along the way; or since I used miles, are we out of luck?


Dear Marko—

Congratulations on the marriage. And best wishes for a memorable honeymoon trip. Traveling around the world is a great use of your frequent flier miles.

Pretty much industry-wide, the airlines' policies on upgrading award flights are the same: You can't upgrade a flight paid for with miles. Unfortunately, Delta is no exception.

It's a pretty silly rule when you think about it. After all, miles can be used for flights and they can be used for upgrades. Why can't they be used for both, in combination?

But we have to deal with the world as it is, not the world as it would be if frequent fliers were in charge, which means exploring your options for flying two people around the world in an upgraded class of service without paying full retail for the trip.

There aren't many. In fact, there's only one alternative I can think of.

Rather than redeeming miles for two round-the-world coach tickets, you could have purchased one ticket in business or first class, and used your miles for the other ticket. But that would have required a substantial out-of-pocket expense.

On a "no harm in trying" note, it never hurts to mention to the check-in agent that you're traveling on your honeymoon. You might just find yourself on the receiving end of a "goodwill" upgrade.

Tim Winship is editor at large for SmarterTravel , as well as the editor and publisher of, and a frequently quoted expert on frequent flier programs. SmarterTravel provides expert, unbiased information on timely travel deals, the best value destinations, and money-saving travel tips.

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