Passing the GUC: Greg gives global upgrades to Nick… with a catch


Alright Nick.  You asked for it and here it is: Two Global Upgrade Certificates (GUCs) just for you.  But there’s a catch.  You have to take me with you.

a man taking a selfie
A snapshot from a possible future. Greg reaches for the attendant call button as Nick leans over from his Delta One Suite. We wear the same shirt… just because.

Clowns to the left of me!
Jokers to the right!
Here I am GUC in the middle with you.

In my post outlining my plans for Delta elite status in 2021, I wrote that for the first time ever I was going to pass on Delta’s Global Upgrade Certificates as a Choice Benefit for my 2020 elite status.  Instead, I said that I would take 25,000 miles.  And Nick roasted me for it:

Nick (jokingly?) said that even if I couldn’t use the upgrade certificates myself, surely I knew somebody that could use them this year, like “maybe the employee of the month?”  I’m not sure why Nick wanted me to give the upgrades to Stephen or Carrie, but I explained to him that Delta GUCs (Global Upgrade Certificates) don’t work that way.  You can gift them to a friend, but only if you fly the same flight.  And so, that was that.  Or so we thought…

A longtime reader reached out to suggest that we make a game of this.  Why not collect my GUCs (rhymes with “ducks”) and fly somewhere with Nick?  Indeed!  Why not?

The GUC stops here…

OK, Nick, here’s how this is going to work…

On January 30th, I’ll select 4 Global Upgrade Certificates as one of my Delta Diamond 2020 Choice Benefits.  The catch, as I said before, is that you have to take me along.  Use 2 of the GUCs for yourself and 2 for me.  This means that we can book a round trip flight to anywhere in the world that Delta (or select partners) fly.  We’ll pay economy prices and use the GUCs to hopefully fly lie-flat business class.

Update: As promised, I selected the GUCs on January 30th. Here’s a video to prove it:

We’ll each pay our own way, but Nick will plan the entire trip.  As long as I can apply the GUCs to the journey, I’ll go along — like it or not.  Our GUCs will expire January 30th 2022.  This means that we have to fly by January 30th, 2022 — it’s not enough just to book by then.

Nick can find flights on Delta or select airline partners such as Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, or Virgin Australia.  In some cases, in order to use GUCs, it’s OK to purchase these flights through the partner’s booking channels, but in other cases the flight must be marketed by Delta.  Nick can find details, by partner, in this post: Delta global upgrade certificates now improved for partner flights.

Bonus Point Opportunities

In addition to getting the joy of travelling somewhere with me, Nick will have plenty of opportunities to earn Frequent Miler Bonus Points.  The following are the bonus point opportunities that we’ve identified so far, but we welcome reader suggestions as well!

Fly safe & don’t get cancelled (Good GUC with that…)

a man wearing a mask on his face

Neither of us are currently interested in flying until after we get vaccinated.  Additionally, we have no idea when many countries will open to travelers from the United States (although I published my predictions here).  My bet is that international travel to many destinations will be both possible and safe by September or October 2021, but there’s absolutely no guarantee.  Nick will earn mega-bonus points if he plans a trip that actually happens and where we both feel safe enough to travel.

Elite status for Nick

a man sitting in a chair
Here’s how Nick will smile if he somehow gets Delta Diamond status out of this trip (Note: that’s very unlikely, but maybe he’ll secure Gold or Platinum status at least).

Bonus points if Nick earns high level elite status as a result of this trip.  For example, maybe this trip could be used to complete a Delta elite status challenge.  Alternatively, it should be possible to earn at least low level status with Virgin Atlantic or Air France.

A GUC for a Duck

a golden rubber duck on a marble counter

Nick will earn a bonus point each time we collect a rubber duckie (from a hotel stay perhaps?).  Bonus points will also be awarded for any significant interaction with ducks, such as feeding them (as long as no ducks are harmed).

Sweet suite GUC

a tv and a chair in a business class

Nick will earn bonus points if we fly at least one significant leg of the trip in a business class suite, such as Delta One Suites, shown above.

KLM Delft Blue houses

a group of white houses with a tree in the background

Nick will earn bonus points if we collect KLM Delft Blue houses on the trip.  KLM presents every World Business Class passenger with a gift: a Delft Blue miniature traditional Dutch house, filled with Dutch gin, also known as genever.  Details here.

I’ve never flown KLM business class, so Nick will get extra bonus points for this one!  Note too, that this one may be extra hard to achieve given that KLM has cancelled all of their longhaul routes.  Hopefully these flights will return before we need them.

Air France’s signature business class lounge

a group of people sitting in chairs

Nick will earn bonus points by ensuring a visit to Air France’s signature business class lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport (Hall L of Terminal 2E).  This lounge includes a huge wellness area (pictured above); a “Gourmet Table” with chef-prepared dishes; and much more (details here).  As long as we return from Paris or have a layover at CDG, I believe we’ll get free access to Air France’s business class lounges.

Free (or cheap) stopover perks

a boat on the water

In the post “The best stopover deals worldwide” I detailed many different free tours, free hotel stays, and more that are available from select cities, select airports, and select airlines.  Nick can earn lots of bonus points by including free or cheap stopover perks on our journey.

Outsized hotel point value

a car parked in front of a house

Nick can earn big bonus points by getting far outsized point value for our hotel stays.  I want us to get at least 4 cents per point value compared to cash rates.

Outsized activity point value

a woman standing on a balcony overlooking a city

Nick can earn many bonus points by somehow finding an opportunity to get outsized value by using points to book activities such as tours, dining experiences, shows, etc.

Reader Ideas

Do you have any ideas for making this GUC trip more fun or interesting?  Any other ideas for bonus points that Nick can earn?  What should Nick do with all of the bonus points he collects?  Are they somehow worth something?  Please comment below.

Reader ideas collected so far…

  • Points for destinations that one or both haven’t previously been to
  • Points for creative destination
  • Points for distance travelled
  • Points for different products flown
  • Points for varying routes out and back
  • Points for flying around the world (Greg’s note: Yes! Bonus points if we cross both the Atlantic and Pacific)
  • Points for clearing multiple segments into business class. Subtract points for failing to clear (Greg’s note: Yes, Nick definitely loses points if we sit in coach!)
  • Points for using Spirit for positioning flights (Greg’s note: I won’t subtract points if I have to fly Spirit — as long as I can get a big front seat)
  • Points for making good use of Spirit swag on our luxury trip
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Jan W

What’s a trip without thanking your host? Nick, you must give one hostess gift to Greg for every day of the trip (has to be something you packed, not purchased along the way). But to spread the joy around a bit, you will get to direct Greg in how that gift must be used, eaten, worn, carried or otherwise incorporated into the day’s activities. This should make for some great pics!


Y’all should try to route through GUC (Gunnison, Colorado) if you want to get really Meta

Nick Reyes



I hope that Nick plans one activity that is outside of Greg’s comfort zone. I don’t know what that would be exactly…swimming with sharks? Skydiving? Maybe Nick can powwow with Mrs Frequent Miler and find out what Greg’s most afraid of. 🙂

Nick Reyes

I hope that Nick does that, too.


Bonus points for seeing a NEW destination one, or even better both, of you have never been before.


That was the first one that came to mind. Also thought about bonus points if Nick manages to work in less covered ancillary CC benefits like National Emerald Club , FHR, Priority pass, Chase, $100 Ritz credits etc.Higher points for the more obscure/less covered ones, ie. Priority Pass has been talked about to death so would be worth very little.


This is such a great idea. Also, the picture of you guys at the top of the article is priceless. When was that taken?

Nick Reyes

It wasn’t. While I learn about GUCs and airline elite status and mileage runs and hotel sweet spots, Greg is secretly working on mastering his deepfake skills.


Is that a St Pancras Renaissance duck?


BTW, I think basically “Greg wins” if you don’t go on the trip as that was the exact point of why you were considering not opting for them.


Should make him “gift” you $250-300 worth of Hyatt points if this happens……


Greg, any reason why you wouldn’t select the Choice Benefit on Jan 31 and get an extra day to use them? In the past I’ve picked them on Jan 31 successfully (and used the GUC on Jan 31 next year) —- just wanted to make sure no DPs show Jan 31 as being risky… Thanks!


Thanks! I’d been bitten by JetBlue’s 12:01am deadline with their old program (meaning you had to pick the reward the night before by midnight), so just wanted to make sure Delta hadn’t changed their T&C quietly!


LOL, glad you guys took my suggestion. I just thought it was so funny when Nick was roasting you about it, and your response that you would have to go with…….just seemed like an idea for a blog stunt! Great job fleshing out the idea!


I think that as soon as you book your flights (thus assuring your use of the GUs) you should share the info so we can join you ! Sounds like fun.

Evan F

Even though I’m newer to the redemption world (so I don’t have much to contribute to the “game”)…I am anxiously waiting to see what Nick comes up with for this challenge! Have fun fellas!


This is fun and sounds so intriguing! Good thing you mentioned how to pronounce that acronym… at first it looked fancy to me, like Gucci. Maybe Nick get bonus points having a great experience using his kinda awesome Spirit for his positioning flight to get to you 😉


Points need to be award based on number of segments cleared using the GUC, with major deductions for any segments that don’t clear.


Great idea. Hopefully we’ll be able to follow along as Nick develops various strategies to make this a fantastic use of the upgrades, and a fantastic trip. Always interesting to see how the pros approach trip planning.

I do question Greg’s choice of song to use to promote the challenge. Isn’t the whole purpose of the global upgrade to make sure you’re not stuck in the middle?

Could award points for creativity of destination, distance traveled, different “products” flown, and different routes out and back (or possibly going around the world).