What it’s like to fly with Delta as an Elite status holder as the journey returns

Complimentary upgrades to first class are a perk of having elite frequent flyer status with an airline. A single upgrade can increase the value of a ticket by more than double the original purchase price.

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.

Thomas Pallini / Insider


But as more travelers return to the skies for business and pleasure, first-class cabins fill up and free upgrades become harder and harder to find. Some airlines are also lowering the prices of paid first class upgrades to encourage economy class travelers to take the plunge.

Delta Air Lines in first class

A first class seat on a Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200.

Thomas Pallini / Business Insider


With the summer ending and Americans more comfortable with the plane, I wanted to see how difficult it was to nab a coveted first class upgrade on a recent trip.

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico - Delta Air Lines Mexico City Boeing 767-300ER Flight 2021

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.

Thomas Pallini / Insider


I booked Delta on a recent flight from New York to Mexico City, Mexico to see how I would behave as an elite status holder. Here is what I found.

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico - Delta Air Lines Mexico City Boeing 767-300ER Flight 2021

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.

Thomas Pallini / Insider


One thing I’ve learned when booking flights in the hope of getting an upgrade is that it helps to be strategic. When looking for flights to Mexico City, for example, I opted for a flight on a jumbo jet as these planes often have a higher number of first-class seats than single-aisle planes.

Delta One First Class Los Angeles to New York

Fly Delta One on a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-400.

Thomas Pallini / Insider


The flight was delayed for about half an hour due to maintenance issues on the aircraft. But we were soon on our way and we went to Mexico.

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico - Delta Air Lines Mexico City Boeing 767-300ER Flight 2021

Fly Delta Air Lines from New York to Mexico City, Mexico.

Thomas Pallini / Insider



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