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If you’re ready to book that dream trip to Paris and have some Delta Air Lines SkyMiles® to burn, you may have toyed with the idea of using them to upgrade to Delta One international business class. The problem is, you can’t. Delta doesn’t allow you to use SkyMiles to upgrade on international flights.
However, all is not lost. You could book an Air France Premium Economy fare instead and upgrade to that airline’s business class using your Delta SkyMiles, thanks to both carriers’ membership in the SkyTeam airline alliance.
Here is the rundown of what you need to know, with step-by-step instructions:
- You can only do this on trans-Atlantic Air France flights, such as New York to Paris or Chicago to Paris, not onward flights like Paris to Nairobi or Hong Kong.
- You will have to buy an Air France Premium Economy fare that is ‘S’ class or higher (these usually run $3,692 for Comfort+ $6,632 for Premium Economy, round-trip) directly from Delta.
1. Search for Air France flights that have ‘O’ inventory
‘O’ is the fare bucket that upgraded seats get booked into. You’ll want to buy your ticket on a flight that has seats open in this fare class so you can upgrade right away. Go to Delta.com and search for award seats in business class on Air France to identify those with ‘O’ seats available.
Alternatively, if you pay for an ExpertFlyer.com membership, you can check it to search for Air France ‘O’ class seats.
2. Figure out the price by searching for Air France flights with ‘S’ class
Now that you know ‘O’ seats are available, you’ll need to buy a Premium Economy ticket. Air France has three Premium Economy fares, ‘W’, ‘S’, and ‘A’. Only ‘W’ and ‘S’ are eligible for upgrades and ‘S’ is the lower of the two fares. Flying from New York to Paris on Premium Economy will cost $982 one way. The easiest way to check the fare is to call Air France at 800-237-2747 and request an ‘S’ fare.
3. Book the flight on Delta.com or by phone
You can’t buy a ticket on AirFrance.com or any other location besides Delta if you want to upgrade your flight with SkyMiles. The simplest way to book a flight that is upgradable with SkyMiles is to call Delta at 800-221-1212. Tell the customer service agent you want to buy an Air France flight with an Air France flight number so you can upgrade using Delta miles. Ask to use the ‘S’ booking class in Premium Economy with Air France flight numbers, not Delta flight numbers.
Otherwise, you can buy an Air France Premium Economy ticket on Delta.com, but it will be assigned a Delta flight number and you’ll have to get it changed over manually.
4. If you bought on Delta.com, call Delta and ask to change your ticket to display Air France marketed and coded flights.
You can skip this step if you buy your ticket over the phone as instructed above.
By default, Delta sells Air France flights with Delta flight numbers. For example, a flight might be sold by Delta as DELTA 1017 – OPERATED BY DELTA CODESHARE PARTNER, AIR FRANCE AS AIR FRANCE 9.
This step is necessary because if you are on an Air France flight with a Delta flight number, Delta won’t be able to see upgrade space. It also tends to confuse some agents, but when you call, say you want to switch your flight to an Air France-marketed flight number so that you can then upgrade.
It’s confusing for everyone involved, and you can get around it by booking on the phone the right way first. Ask the agent to confirm that a new ticket has been issued.
The bottom line
Using SkyMiles to upgrading on Air France flights is a no-brainer, especially since Delta doesn’t allow you to use them to move into premium cabins on its own international flights. It’s even possible to find a few seats on Air France long-haul flights from San Francisco or Los Angeles to Paris.
With business class awards getting tougher to find thanks to Delta’s tightening of seat availability, you need every angle you can to save money and points for premium cabin access to Europe.