Searching for SWUable fares on Delta and United

One of the great benefits of top-tier airline elite status is the upgrade certificates the programs issue. While American Airlines offers eVIPs which are valid on all fares, Delta and United Airlines have fare limitations on theirs, making shopping for upgradable fares a bit more difficult. On top of that, comparing the fares from nearby departure points or to nearby destination points can be time consuming and annoying.

Well, it is time for the annoyance and frustration to go away. It is time for an easier search interface. It is time for another update to the Wandering Aramean Travel Tools!

The United SWUable tool has been around for a while now, though it has recently seen a number of updates to get it back online after a short hiatus due to data source issues. The Delta version of the tool is a new addition and has just come out of beta and is ready for action.

Here’s how it works:

  • Head to either the United or Delta version of the tool.
  • Zoom in on the map to find your departure city or destination airport.
  • Or scroll down and choose from the airports or price points listed.
  • Check out the fare data and pick the option that works for you!

The fares listed are EXCLUSIVE of taxes and fees. This means that any YQ fuel surcharges are not included. I wish they were, but the GDS from which the data comes doesn’t have them and I cannot just make up the data so I’m publishing what I’ve got. Still better than a poke in the eye. Also, the fares are published fares, not necessarily the lowest available on your specific dates of travel. Not perfect, but a good starting point. And the CPM is point-to-point, so odds are you can do better than that with creative routings on most city pairs.

Not seeing the fare you want, but hoping that it will happen? I’ve got a system set up for that, too. Click on the "Manage My Alerts" link and you can set up email alerts for various cities and price points. Every morning after the fare data is collected the system checks the alert queue and sends out emails if the fares are available.



There’s also fare history (more useful for the United data right now, but the Delta data is building) so you can watch trends.


The fare history page also has the actual numbers so you can see those bits, too. And I’ve fixed the bug that’s causing the multiple daily entries the past couple weeks.

Hopefully the tool can help you better apply the SWUs you’ve earned. Happy flying!!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Can you show the fare history in reverse chronological order (most recent first)? Makes it easier to see what the current fare is 🙂

    1. It would seem that, indeed, I can switch the order for the display. I’ve just made that change and am uploading the update right now. Should be live in a few minutes. 😀

      Another feature I’d like to add is making the lists sortable on the results page so you can sort by distance or CPM rather than just by fare. That’s a bit farther down on the dev cycle line, but it is on the road map.

    1. It is definitely possible to source departures from other destinations. The issue I’m faced with is one of data collection and storage. There are some costs associated with collecting the data. They aren’t huge and I’m able to cover them for now, but significantly growing the data being collected could change that, and I’m not particularly keen on this costing me too much to run. Plus, storing all the data, particularly the fare history, adds up after a while.

      On top of all that, I’ve heard very limited demand for non-US origins, so that’s not helping the cause too much. I’d say it is not on the short-term plan right now, but if that changes I’ll definitely let folks know.

  2. Once you find a good fare you can go to ITA Matrix and check multiple dates, departure airports, and fare levels. It’s certainly not as easy as this, it’s more a a “have in another tab about to buy ticket tool.”

    1. I actually used to have ITA search available directly from the page by clicking on the fare, Kris Ziel. That allowed you to choose a fare, specify the start date and trip duration and it would pop up a 30-day search page from ITA. That died when the original Matrix was pulled offline a few weeks ago and I haven’t had time to build an interface into ITA2. Yet. It is towards the top of the project task list and I hope to have it operational very soon.

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