Should You Always Split a PNR for a Better Chance at an Upgrade?

If you have status on a frequent flier program and traveling with others without status, the conventional wisdom is that you split up the Passenger Number Record (PNR).  This ensures that you have the highest chances of getting an upgrade.

The premise is simple.  If there is only one upgrade-able seat but you have multiple passengers on your PNR, you’re going to get passed over by that one passenger with equal status who can take that upgraded seat.

Does It Ever Make Sense Not to Split the PNR?

We ran into this scenario in our recent trip.

My brother is a Delta Platinum.  No one else has any elite status with Delta.   We were all booked in economy and had selected seats next to each other.

My brother had considered splitting out his PNR.  That way, he has a higher chance of getting upgraded.

He decided against it so we could all sit together.  In our case, splitting the PNR might be more hassles than it is worth.  His elite benefits also carried over to us because we were on the same reservation.  This included free baggage allowance on Delta and Sky priority boarding.

Don’t Count on it, but Surprises Can Still Happen!

We knew the chance of getting an upgrade was slim on our recent flight from BOS-MSP as a party of 5.

We boarded early in the sky priority group, put away our luggage and had just settled into our seats when one of the gate agents came on-board looking for our party.  She asked up to pick up our things and move up front — she had new seats for us, waving the new boarding passes in her hands.

It turned out that she upgraded all 5 of us to Delta Comfort Plus!

While it would have been less work if this was done at the gate, it was a really nice move.  She didn’t have to take that extra step once we boarded.

It’s still not something one should expect, but it goes to show that complimentary upgrades can still happen — even for party of 5!


Do you always split your PNR to get the upgrade?  Have you been upgraded when you hadn’t expected it? 

Source: Travel Gadget Reviews

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