An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The planning of the MEGADelta run – Part 1
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Positioning to LAX the start city – Part 2
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: A review of the SPG Sheraton LAX – Part 3
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Skyteam Lounge hoping in LAX – Korean Air lounge LAX & more? – Part 4
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The run to Sweden & embracing Delta coach travel – Part 5
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The KLM coach experience & the run from Sweden – Part 6
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Alaska Boardroom LAX vs Delta Skyclub & flight from LAX home – Part 7
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Final thoughts, cost & more – Part 8

swedish bun and tea delta points blog

After a quick 48 hours in Sweden it was already time to head home since this was after all “mostly” a mileage run. Things were not looking good for me, that is it was looking like an all coach experience all the way home (and I am clearly not a fan of long coach travel)! I popped into a local cafe for a bite and then,

rene and david gothenburg sweden delta points blog

reader David was kind enough to offer me a ride to the airport that was much appreciated. It is always fun to get to see you, David and hear about your travels both good and bad!

I also have to say the more I interact with Delta & KLM IT (ie as a team) the less impressed I am. To say that Skyteam is a seamless experience is the same as saying that water and oil will mix; sure you can shake them and they look mixed, but if you just wait a few seconds and you will see the fact of the matter. From something as simple as seats & frequent flyer numbers to elite status recognition – nothing remotely works as it should or as advertized. Expect bad things to happened when you venture outside Delta.com.

skyteam lounge gothenburg sweden delta points blog (2)

When I printed my boarding pass at home at my cousin’s, I was at least able to, in GOT, first get switched from a bad seat to an exit row all to myself on the City Hopper KLM regional down to AMS. Oh that and get my status changed from base Skymiles member to having my Diamond status printed on my boarding pass. Why should that matter? Well, when it comes to over booked flights Delta & KLM tend to move from coach to business those who are elites (so you see why that matters).

skyteam lounge gothenburg sweden delta points blog (1)

The KLM partner lounge in GOT (not run by KLM but a 3rd party lounge) is a familiar friend to me. I know the best spot to go to find a power outlet (there are very few to be found) and the food choices have even been upgraded.

skyteam lounge gothenburg sweden delta points blog (3)

I was able to get online and both work a bit, tweet a bit and even Skype my Lisa with no problems whatsoever. My only gripe, that is a common one in most lounges, was the house red wine was one step above horrid. Drinkable, but just barely. Maybe a minor issue but matters to me.

klm city hopper jet delta points blog

At last my jet arrived and it was time to begin the run home. This was going to be a VERY long day as I got up at 9:PM California time the day before and would land at midnight thus staying up for the better part of 27 hours. Now that was not going to happen, but one step at a time.

nasty cheap red wine klm delta points blog

Like the inbound, the exit row on the E190 City Hopper is one of the best seats on the jet. The seats in front of you do not recline and you have a ton of leg room. Next something amazing happened. The steward Stephen was amazing.

klm city hopper jet ams delta points blog

He took the time, in coach, to add this little touch to the very cheap and down right nasty bottle of red wine and presented it in a kind and courteous way that I mostly only see in 1st class (and often times not even there). I fly over 100 segments each year and I have to say his service was one of the best this year (other that some of the Lufthansa crews that is). KLM needs to move this man to FA training! Seriously, he knows how to make a flyer feel welcome and appreciated. #Stunning and a great start to my trip.

11g klm economy comfort

Then on to my KLM 777 experience. I have to tell you, the front row of EC is very nice. If you are a couple and can pick the 2 seats you will be pleased. A ton of leg room, good recline and in seat fold up entertainment. The middle 3 seats have the same space but unfortunately flyers tend to cross over in front of your feet – yes there is THAT much space. On my flight the FA s put up the child bassinets to try to combat this but people still squeezed past most of the flight.

KLM 777 economy comfort seat 11G skyteam delta points blog review

Then on to the coach experience. I asked about an OPUP or an operational upgrade when coach is oversold, but that did not happen this time. Ah well. I have to say, to me anyway, Delta cares much more about their elites than KLM does and no upgrades on intra- European flights is just one example of this. I feel very sorry for KLM platinums as well as the lower ranks.

nasty chicken -ish dinner klm economy comfort ams-atl delta points blog

Then on to the food service. I have had over the years more coach food than I care to admit to, but this was a step up from dog food and most of it was inedible. I mean the chicken was slimy and nasty. The fruit salad was under ripe. The coach South African Shiraz mix is horrid cheap swill wine oh and the bread was rock hard and finally an inedible salad. The dessert was the only ½ palatable item. If you ever have to fly coach on KLM please bring your own food – you will thank me!

The service was just OK but don’t even think of asking for anything special, even in EC. Once again, by the book, you are just a tourist in coach and you better like it. Skyteam elite – so what – next time buy a business class ticket. I am not kidding here – it is bad. At least with Delta a medallion is appreciated even if just by attitude – not so much on KLM.

So after enduring almost 9 hours of this we landed more or less on time in ATL. Thanks to Global Entry I was able to buzz through customs in no time and with all carry-on, I was on my way to my next flight that was delayed by over an hour so I really had no rush.

I went right up to the “F” Skyclub and they said they were overbooked and I had no shot at an upgrade. Do keep in mind this flight was departing almost 24hrs after I got up in Sweden. Clearly, I would sleep on the flight but more quality coach time and only a few hours of sleep at the Sheraton LAX did not look all that appealing. I headed right to the gate and was the first one on the bump list, but the GA said it looked full but not over.

It ended up over by 1! I said great take me and was offered a $600 voucher, a night at the Hilton and a Y class rebook for the AM flight for a better shot at an upgrade. Sold and off to a real bed and 5-ish solid hours of much needed sleep.

breakfast at the club at atl delta points blog

The next morning, since I have no Hilton status anymore it was off to the The Club at ATL to see if their breakfast was any better than the SkyGrub. For once the Skyclub would have been a better choice. Good to know.

upgrade list atl-lax on a monday morning delta points blog

Then off to the gate. No chance for bump and #2 and the upgrade list ended up 112 deep. OY! I ended up #2 on the list with zero seats open on a FULL Y class. Clearly Monday AM flights are not the best for upgrades. However, this was the ONLY upgrade I missed that I was eligible for on the run as all my positioning flights cleared so 5 of 6 or 84% as a Diamond on X & V class tickets. I was deep in coach but at least not a middle seat; then my middle seatmate was a rather large dude. Ruh-Roh. I need not fear as my aisle armrest could fold up and I could slide that way. Plus, the guy, as well as a bunch of flyers around me were non-revs going to Hawaii and were a blast. It was one of the most fun times I have had in coach ever and time “flew” by I have to say.

delta seat 767-300 domestic coach delta points blog

We landed in LAX early and with plenty of time to start my positioning flight home. That is up next! – René
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Delta 767-300 new business class seats - Delta Points blog review (6)

Upgrades. Medallions are rather, shall we say, interested in them. One very frequent flyer coined the term “tapgrade” to describe the feverish tapping of the Fly Delta app to see if we have moved up or down the upgrade list and if we have at last cleared.

Cleared. That is when the sense of relief and at the same time a wave of excitement hits you; you will be riding in first class on the next flight. Your stress is over and it is time to look forward to your pre-flight beverage and all the other perks that go along with your upgraded seat. But is cleared just what it says it is? Maybe not.

Boarded. Ahhh.. the sense of relief is now mixed with delight as you relax in your seat, drinking a cool refreshing beverage. You feel great anticipation of the wonders to come in your first class cabin seat which is now yours for the duration of the flight. What if, at this moment, the gate agent comes onboard with a worried expression and heads in your direction? What could this be about? Did you leave something behind at the gate that the agent is kindly returning to you? Your mind races with the possibilities, but would being asked to now forfeit your prized first class seat be among them in your mind?

Something just like this happened to a reader, Lee Ann. Think how you would have reacted as she tells us her adventure:

Hi Rene & Delta Points readers.

On Friday of Labor Day weekend I flew from LAX-MIA. I am a Gold Medallion & I was upgraded at the airport (saw my name go off the upgrade list and they gave me a new boarding pass) from Economy Comfort into First. I boarded the plane. I started to enjoy a glass of wine, and settled in.

Then, right at the end of the boarding process, when everyone was on board and the gate agent is closing the flight, she stepped in front of me and confirmed my name. Then she told me that a family of three had purchased the first class seat she upgraded me into and showed up at the last-minute, despite having had their names called several times.

She then moved me and another gentleman into different seats. I was put into a middle seat while the other guy got an aisle because that’s all she had left. We were both put in Economy Comfort. All she did was apologize – even when I expressed that I had lost my original seat, which was a window.

It wasn’t until I got up to use the bathroom that the flight attendants recognized me and apologized further, and offered me wine and snacks.

When I wrote to Delta, they gave me 7,500 miles. I was surprised at this “gesture” considering that they have given me more miles for dirty tray tables and poor service from flight attendants.

The flight was a red-eye and I barely slept because I was in the middle seat and not prepared at all for this. The gate doors should have been closed at the point where they revoked the upgrade and moved my seat.

I really don’t understand why they wouldn’t just rebook those people on another flight. Actually, I do understand – they paid and I didn’t. I’m just a GM.

Have you ever heard of this happening? The flight attendants were surprised and said they had never experienced this before.

PS – Delta did follow up with me and I was offered another 7,500 miles as an apology and shared in part with me:

“Our gate agents have many responsibilities and tasks to perform prior to departure and the last thing we ever want to do is provide a customer a complimentary upgrade and then soon thereafter have to ask you to move to another seat in coach.”

Thank you Lee Ann for sharing your experience. Had this have been me, I would have reacted differently. I would have pushed it. I was boarded and upgraded. I was in my seat. I would have said that announcements are made all the time that 1st has checked in full; to me sitting in my seat, boarded, gives me the right to that seat. I realize that refusing to comply with crew instructions carries a HUGE risk, but I would have said if you are pulling me off the flight now out of my assigned seat I will expect compensation and a 1st class seat on the next flight. Bottom line I would not have just caved and taken whatever seat was now open. At least I would have demanded my old seat back and have that flyer moved as well!

What do you say dear readers. Was a token 7,500 Skymiles enough compensation for this event? Was 15,000 enough and what should have been offered the first time? Would one of Delta’s 1 year free upgrade certificates been the proper compensation? Would you have caused a “ruckus” or just followed the gate agent’s instructions? Delta does read the blog so chime in and tell them what you think! - René

 

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Posted by rene | 23 Comments

High Roller giant Ferris wheel delta points blog

This week, since I am having an all BAcon weekend of fun, I wanted to open up the SWAG day to something really fun as well. Up for grabs is my last Swiss Gear backpack and the monthly Amazon cash I have received.

swiss backpack

But first the picky stuff. Each week the rules are HERE and by commenting you are agreeing that you have looked at the rules and agree with them.

sept amazon e-gift money from blog

Then on to this week’s question. Well really a question for you to share with me. This week it is an open forum. Ask a question or say something fun or just say hello! Thinking about what credit cards to go for before year end? Anything you comment counts as your entry this week for a shot at this week’s swag via random.org!

Then this Monday I will pick some of the question ones and answer them on the blog! – René

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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Posted by rene | 129 Comments

swag winner 9-19-14 delta points

Congratulations to Ed Jenkins who is #58 this week’s SWAG winner. Thanks for taking the time to be a part of SWAG Saturday and I will contact you soon with your prize.

Also thanks for all the input and I do appreciate the input as this shows Delta is, other than when REAL weather happens, they are on time more than most of the other airlines! Personally I have to say I can with full confidence book any kind of crazy flights and I know Delta is going to get me there on time – or – they will do what it takes to fix it.

Be sure to check back tomorrow as my last Swiss Backpack is up for grabs plus a nice Amazon gift card as well will be included! – René

 

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IHG The Palazzo LAS delta points blog

It really is true that EVERYTHING is just big in Vegas and pulling up to The Palazzo does that very well. This place, with it’s sister the Venetian, is a massive complex and space.

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The lobby of The Palazzo is massive. Ceilings, art, you name it, all of it is massive. We missed the IHG desk (letters are 20 feet up in the air) for check-in just left of the main area but there was no real line so no big deal. They have a person standing at end of the line who asks your name then hands you off to the next attendant. It is Vegas after all, everything has to be over the top (good and bad as you will see).

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (7)

We were offered, due to our IHG Platinum status, an upgraded suite over their standard suite that is still a huge room. This one I was told had a slightly obstructed view. Hummm… But seeing double doors usually means something good.

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (6)

The room was very big. It has an entrance area with 1/2 bath. Plus, just off that area, an exercise room with equipment.

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (5)

Then a dining room and living room area.

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (1)

One of my biggest gripes about this area was the desk. Yes, there were some extra power points in the form of a Triplight surge strip next to the printer (ok that was impressive, but it was just about out of ink :-( ) but the chair was completely worthless. I don’t care how much you have spent on the room, a comfortable work chair for work is a MUST! Learn this hotels!

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (2)

Then we have the bedroom that was large and spacious. The bed was comfortable and soft I just wish one of the 4 pillows had been just a little bit soft.

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (3)

The bathroom was massive as well. Not just a full size Jacuzzi tub,

Suite upgrade IHG The Palazzo LAS Delta Points blog (4)

But also a shower about as big as mine at home (just with more water jets).

my view IHG Platinum The Palazzo LAS delta points blog

But come morning I at last got to use the remote to open the power blinds to take a grand look at the Vegas strip. Uh, yeah. Not so much.

sound levels from my ac outside my suite at the palazzo las delta points blog

I did not sleep all that great due to the fact that outside this suite is what you see above by my sound level app. A very loud A/C unit that had a constant loud drone and buzzzzzzzzzz. Anytime you are approaching street noise levels it is too dang loud!

happy hour at bar The Plazzo LAS Delta Points blog

We did have a drink during happy hour at one of the many restaurants (Morels) at the hotel. This, due to the fact that one of the only “good” coupons we got for a BOGOF drink was on the casino floor. The price was so-so, $16 with tip for two small glasses of house red wine, but then we went to use the coupon at the casino bar and paid, with same tip, $17 for the BOGOF drinks. Sigh.

So no breakfast perks, no free wifi perks, no free water in the room, no real value in any coupons at check-in (not to mention no show tickets or anything like that) and an upgrade to the worst suite in the hotel. Plus on top of that you have the $25 resort fee even on a free award night – JOY! I even reached out to @IHGCare on twitter and was told the hotel would contact me but that did not happen. IHG is NOT SPG – that is for sure.

I will not ever be returning to The Palazzo and am in many ways sad I wasted my IHG yearly free nights certs from my Chase IHG card at this hotel (I have two each year one for me and one for Lisa). Personally I would look at the many other good choices for a hotel in Las Vegas! They have built this thing – HUGE – maybe they can now work on customer service and IHG Platinum member appreciation next? – René

(UPDATE): I at last spoke with the Desk MGR at The Palazzo. Without going into specifics, the general tone was very unappreciative of IHG. I was firmly told they were NOT an IHG property and they just needed a loyalty program due to so many guests requesting it. I was also asked for ways to improve to prevent events like mine but if The Palazzo does not embrace the IHG loyalty program, and IHG does not have a consistent set of perks within their family of affiliates, there is not much hope for improvement!
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An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The planning of the MEGADelta run – Part 1
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Positioning to LAX the start city – Part 2
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: A review of the SPG Sheraton LAX – Part 3
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Skyteam Lounge hoping in LAX – Korean Air lounge LAX & more? – Part 4
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The run to Sweden & embracing Delta coach travel – Part 5
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The KLM coach experience & the run from Sweden – Part 6
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Alaska Boardroom LAX vs Delta Skyclub & flight from LAX home – Part 7
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Final thoughts, cost & more – Part 8

At long last it is time for the actual run to begin that I picked up for $567 round trip. This is the thing about a run – it is all fun and an adventure. Lars-Erik and I had already enjoyed some quality time at the Sheraton Club, kicked out of the LAXSUL lounge and did make it into the Korean & Skyclubs already today before our first flight!

As I left you last post I was feverishly doing the “TapGrade” move that is the nonstop clicking the “new” refresh icon for the upgrade list on your fly Delta App. Something had to be done as it was near time to begin to clear upgrades. I walked down to the gate, saw I was at this point going to clear, and kindly asked if it was time to clear upgrades yet. I got a wry smile and was told 10 more minutes. Rats. I would have to wait but did clear at the last spot!

burger delta 1st class lax to atl

The flight was a domestic 767-300 that really has the worst 1st class seats in the air but I have found row 1 is the best as there is no one to recline into you so you can work on your laptop. Lunch was the “Delta Burger” that truly is very good. They get a good grill char on the burger itself, the flavors, while muted, are good and the fixings work. The potato salad is nummy and the dessert was good as well. The fruit and cheese plate made for a great finish with red wine. If I had to get super picky to find any fault it would be the bun was a little dry but that is reaching. This is a solid choice for Delta domestic lunch (or dinner).

cold chicken salad lunch delta 1st class lax to atl

My seat mate had the Chicken and was nice enough to let me snap a shot. I have also had that before and found it very nice as well. Delta is just hitting on all cylinders to me with food – it is just good and pleasant. Well done Delta and please don’t change a thing!!!

After lunch I enjoyed the IFE that worked fine and watched a movie and got to work on my laptop. The GoGo wifi worked great and reliably as it usually does on most Delta flights. Speed was maybe a little faster than normal. I know they are working on upgrading the system so it may just be in my head but all just worked as it should.

please do not cut wind on delta jets delta points blog

The only issue I had was with a fellow passenger in 1st class (and I don’t know who it was). Now I don’t want to get into a “winded” discussion about flatulence, but please folks, if you are offending the better part of all of 1st class, go to the lavatory and flush a few extra times. Please? It was so bad I got up and went up to the galley – seriously – this went on for a LONG time and was down right offensive. The FA even commented it was the worst she had ever experienced.

Once landing off for a quick visit to the “E” Atlanta Skyclub before boarding. I was checking to see if coach was maybe oversold because when that happens as a medallion you have a chance at what is called an OPUP or operational upgrade to business class, that is they move you up so they can put someone else in your coach seat! That, however, sadly did not happen and every seat in first was full.

Exit row seats delta A330 atl to ams delta points blog 1

Lars-Erik and I did have one of the very best leg room seats on the jet, that is the second exit row on this 767-300ER.

Exit row seats delta A330 atl to ams delta points 2blog

I would have much rather picked the front row of economy comfort but it never opened up. This was the next best choice.

very close to bathroom Exit row seats delta A330 atl to ams delta points blog

There were some big downsides of this seat. Unlike the domestic 767-300, that has a similar setup (in row 26 on that jet), the seat back tray table is screwed in place (i.e. the unlock table has a tiny Philips head screw blocking it from folding down). The reason this is SOOOOO bad for those of us who are not 98lbs swimsuit models is the tray table in the armrest does NOT move out and back and just about cut me in half when using it. Really bad Delta – ya need to fix this.

Another sad part was the window seat was ICE cold. I have been on a bunch of flights where the exit door is a little cool but this one was a meat locker. I think Delta needs to add Westin blankets to the window seats on this jet to make it a decent flight! Lastly, you are VERY near the bathroom and tend to get bumped by those waiting to go in.

The IFE worked perfect and is responsive in coach just like in BE or business elite. I like the new responsive touch screens and they are bright and just work. Also the power ports work perfect and yield very good results to charge all my toys. Having both a USB and a 110 port (for each of us) between our seats at easy reach is great. I still am not sure I like the between seats (in my seat) or the way the new 737-900 has them in front of you. I guess that could be a fun post to get readers input on.

The food on board in coach was really good. I wish I had taken a photo but let me tell you I had the cold chicken salad and it was just about as good as the one I have had before in 1st class. Again, just well done Delta for this effort. I walk in to coach with low food expectations but Delta continues to impress me with their catering flight after flight.

I slept reasonably well and after landing in AMS and clearing customs we popped in to the “domestic” side KLM lounge. I have to say the KLM lounge dragons are as mean as ever. Since Lars-Erik and I were traveling together, on different PNRs but still, I was hoping we could get an exit row together. Nothing doing and KLM wanted him to pay for that “upgraded” seat since only PM+ get it free in KLM land.

KLM E190 exit row 11 delta points blog (1)

The seat was nice and really had even more room than the business class seats row 1 & 2 I am normally in.

KLM E190 exit row 11 delta points blog (2)

Having two seats to myself was nice for me and gave me an extra tray table to put my stuff on.

snack KLM ams to got

The “snack” was under underwhelming but I was not really hungry anyway. Normally in business on this short hop I do eat a bit of the meal as it is nice to get your stomach on the right time zone as possible. Stomach time seems to be one of my biggest issues with adapting to where I am.

approach to GOT from AMS on KLM delta points blog

We landed on time and went to the kiosk to buy bus tickets into town. I had my Barclays Arrival+ card that I had set a PIN for and it worked perfect with the chip and even with the PIN. Ticket was quickly purchased. But for Lars-Erik, his US Bank FlexPerks card would NOT work without a PIN (he did have the one with a chip).

sunrise in gothenburg delta points blog

I said my good-byes to Lars-Erik and took the #2 tram the rest of the way home! Over all this was an interesting run out. Cost wise I was most pleased but will share more of that in the final post! – René
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Posted by rene | 7 Comments

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

shena cat judge not happy

Shena. Say what? Shena, is code for shenanigans. Specifically we are talking about Delta medallion upgrade shenanigans. What is that you ask? There is a lengthy thread at FT about it if you wish to make your head hurt to the point of exploding. But on to my point from my recent trip.

777 BE seats ATL-LAX MEGADeltaMR Delta Points blog

As I talked about on my positioning flights to LAX, I gate cleared as a Diamond Medallion to business class on a 777. Delta’s herringbone business elite international seat is not the best of the bunch but a very nice ride compared to anything coach. What I did not share in the review post was this little tidbit as I wanted to break it out as a post of it’s own. I saw a Shena moment up close and personal it really made me upset.

You see, seat 12C, was empty all through the boarding process. At the very last moment a flyer takes his seat. I smiled at him and then the conversation went like this:

Me – Nice, you got the last upgrade spot.
Him – No employee.
Me – Oh wow!
Him – Well not employee, spouse of an employee.
Me – Ah, enjoy (I say as he smiles back at me)!

So our beloved airline’s gate folks decided to put a NON-REV i.e. a non paying passenger in the big seat rather than coming on board and pulling who should have been the next medallion in line for the upgrade and assigning the non-rev the coach seat. Hello Shena.

Is this wrong? The gate agents control the boarding process until the door is closed. The CAN and DO anything they want to. If they want to, say on an international flight, they can move people into the first class cabin. When it comes to bumps they can decide to use the “paper list” at the gate and totally ignore the digital one or the other way around. They can offer a little or a lot when it comes to bump compensation (your status does play a roll btw). They can choose to give you a hotel voucher or not. Redcoats who can still print food vouchers do often tell you they cannot do this anymore! I could go on and on all day (at least the Delta AMEX Reserve card upgrade help is automated).

So you get the point here, a GA (gate agent) doesn’t HAVE to come on-board and “pull” a medallion up from coach into business class. Does a GA ever do this? You bet! It has happened to me several times over the years. In the past, if I have a bunch of carry-ons, I have boarded so as to not lose out on overhead space and have to have my bag at my feet for a long flight. But what I really should always do, and my advice to you, if you don’t clear wait to board for FINAL BOARDING CALL and ask if 1st class has BOARDED FULL not if it has “checked in full”. There is a huge difference. They may still say YES but I would then ask: “So if there are any BE seats open I can take them?” and check for reaction from the GA.

The only thing good I can say about all this is balancing the need to get a flight out on time vs the time to pull someone from coach. I mean, if 199 are delayed so 1 can get an upgrade I can see the point of putting whoever is waiting into that LAST seat and many times the only folks waiting THAT long are non-rev flyers hoping for any seat that they can fly in.

The bottom line in all this is control. Medallions have EARNED the right at a shot at an upgrade and if you want to avoid meeting Shena face to face you need to know just what can and DOES happen along the way. Oh, and lastly, don’t do anything as a medallion to mess-up your upgrade chances on your own – René
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.
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Posted by rene | 18 Comments

An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The planning of the MEGADelta run – Part 1
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Positioning to LAX the start city – Part 2
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: A review of the SPG Sheraton LAX – Part 3
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Skyteam Lounge hoping in LAX – Korean Air lounge LAX & more? – Part 4
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The run to Sweden & embracing Delta coach travel – Part 5
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The KLM coach experience & the run from Sweden – Part 6
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Alaska Boardroom LAX vs Delta Skyclub & flight from LAX home – Part 7
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Final thoughts, cost & more – Part 8

They say when life gives you lemons you make lemonade. Well when life gives you many hours before a mileage run from LAX, and any part of your itinerary includes an international flight and you are a GM+, why not make an adventure and go lounge hopping at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

I was surprised to find out there is no TSA PreCheck at this brand spankin’ new terminal (they are still working on it btw). I reached out to my TSA rep and was told they would like to see it there but the airlines flying from the terminal have chosen not to participate. I was told, after 12 each day, they do offer “Managed Inclusion“. Not perfect but better.

LUXSUL lounge LAX delta points blog

Lars-Erik and my first stop, or attempted stop I should say, was the LAXSUL lounge since it was clearly listed as a Skyteam lounge (as you can see from the screen shot below – if they ever update the website). The directions said it was on the 4th floor. It is not; it is on the 6th floor right above the Korean Lounge on the 5th floor.

per skyteam-com web site LAXSUL lounge is a skyteam lounge really not so much delta points blog

Unfortunately we were denied entry and were told it is NO part of Skyteam and not a member lounge and we had to leave (they would not even let me pop in for a few quick photos – humf!)!

inside LUXSUL lounge delta points blog

I then reached out to Delta via twitter and was told the information on the Skyteam website was wrong (and not just about the location). Honestly looking in from the walkway we did not miss much other than the fact that it opened up well before the Korean one.

rene from Delta Points trying to get into the Korean Air lounge LAX Skyteam

Since we had some time to kill before the Korean lounge opened (and I did not have Star GOLD status to get into that lounge on the same floor – oopsee) we took the time to goof off and admire the amazing video displays in the terminal. They really were/are stunning as you can see from the opening video in this post! Make time to just gaze at them from the 5th floor straight on – it is just kool!

entrance Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog

Then the Korean lounge finally opened up and they said, get this, we cannot come in. Really – it does say Delta on the Skyteam sign you just put out? The rep told us we had to go to the Delta lounge. Now keep in mind both Lars-Erik and I are Skyteam elite+ members on a same day international flight, so…. YES we should be able to use this Skyteam lounge. The rep at last relented when we pressed her on the rules.

Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog  (3)

Once in, it is a neat lounge.

Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog  (1)

Open, and lots of room.

Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog  (2)

I am sure it fills up around flight time but being the first ones in it was empty.

shower Korean Air lounge LAX 2 Delta Points blog

There are 3 showers to enjoy should you need them.

shower Korean Air lounge LAX 1 Delta Points blog

They were nice sized (some really are not).

breakfast food choices Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog

Food wise there was a good variety of choices and a solid step up above the Skyclubs offers. If you want to graze at the buffet,  this is a better choice than the Skyclub (just bank enough time to get over to the Delta concourse).

Patio Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog

There is also a very nice “outside” patio.

Patio Korean Air lounge LAX Delta Points blog 2

I say outside as it is outside the lounge but still inside the terminal but gives you a nice view!

Speaking of that it was about time to trundle over to T5. We were advised taking the shuttle would take longer than walking; walking would take about 7 minutes. This is exactly what it took. I guess if it is pouring rain or 110 out then shuttle but if not just walk it as we did.

Delta skyclub LAX breakfast choices delta points blog

For comparison we did pop into the Skyclub and the new and “enhanced” breakfast SkyGrub was laid out and being enjoyed by club members ( I was full still from the Sheraton & Korean fare)!

As we sat in the club I nervously was checking the Fly Delta App as I was bouncing between scoring an upgrade and missing by one – gosh I hate missing by one. But more on that later as I cover the run itself! – René
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delta reserve card and amex platinum membership rewards cards

It is that time of the year when some annual fees (some big ones) are coming due and I need to make some choices for a bunch of reasons. First why.

AMEX lets you hold, at any one time, four credit cards (more if you include charge cards). Right now I have a number of AMEX credit cards and I am looking at a new round of cards soon and need to be careful. I want to keep my SPG credit card and my Business Delta Reserve credit card as I have had it forever. I also love having a Platinum AMEX Membership rewards card for access to 3rd party lounges and especially for the Centurion lounges for free. So what about cost and value.

I hold two Delta AMEX Reserve cards. They each come with a $450 fee. With spending of $60,000 on one of them I earn a total of 90,000 Skymiles and 30,000 MQMs (with bonus points). To me I am thus getting $900 in minimum value since I can use Pay with Miles and get 1 cent each per Skymile and that does not even count the MQMs that I also DO value very highly. Oh, then there is the BOGOF that is Buy One Get One Free that I can use in 1st class. But considering the changes to AMEX gift card purchases via shopping portals as of late (with no promise they will be back, ever) running that much spending next year on two cards may not be as simple. Not saying it is not an option, just more work than I may be willing to put into the task considering I will end the year with almost 250,000 MQMs. Plus, holding one card is enough to help me on upgrades, that is holding two does no good in this area. So do I keep two Reserve cards or not?

On to my non-Delta Platinum AMEX Membership Rewards cards. This one is for me a keeper. I mean for the first year I get bonus points, $200 in airline incidentals plus after 1JAN2015 another round of $200 in airline incidentals refunded to me. But even after next year I will keep getting the $200 so the net fee to me is just $250. Since every 5 years I also get my $100 Global Entry fee paid for, really my net cost is $230 per year. I will easily visit enough lounges to cover that. Plus I value the membership rewards points this card provides and also it waives international transaction fees. The only question remains if Lisa gets one of these as well next round, now that I cannot guest her into the Skyclubs anymore after next year (thanks Delta btw for that)!

So what is the most logical card to drop? Yep, one of my two Delta Reserve cards. Now I will take the time to call to see if AMEX will do something BIG like waive my fee for a year due to the change in Skyclub entrance or give me some points to offset the fee for a year, but if not it will be time to cancel one of them sad to say.

So what card will be next to replace it? While I plan to spend as little as I possibly can under Skymiles2015 on Delta tickets, when I do I plan to use an  AMEX Premiere rewards Gold card  to earn 3x points booking directly on Delta.com (a 50% better return than using Delta AMEX cards that only pay 2x points)! – René

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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Posted by rene | 11 Comments

An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The planning of the MEGADelta run – Part 1
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Positioning to LAX the start city – Part 2
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: A review of the SPG Sheraton LAX – Part 3
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Skyteam Lounge hoping in LAX – Korean Air lounge LAX & more? – Part 4
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The run to Sweden & embracing Delta coach travel – Part 5
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: The KLM coach experience & the run from Sweden – Part 6
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Alaska Boardroom LAX vs Delta Skyclub & flight from LAX home – Part 7
An 18,000+ point Delta Mileage Run: Final thoughts, cost & more – Part 8

view of LAX from Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel delta points blog

I am clearly an SPG fan. Maybe not as far as I am a Delta fanboy but I like SheratonsWestins and the SPG family of hotels. They have a solid product, a consistent product and treat me as a valued elite each and EVERY time I stay at their hotels (well other than that one time in MKE that is).

Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel club level room delta points blog (2)

I have been to the Sheraton Gateway LAX before and I was happy to return. Lars-Erik and I decided to share a twin room (yeah I am “that” point cheap) otherwise the location would have happily upgraded me to a corner king suite. I am, as a Platinum, offered this most times and am very disappointed when it’s not an option.

Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel club level room delta points blog (1)

The room was on the club floor, and while not necessary since the key card grants club access, it is nice not to have to change floors to go to the club.

Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel robe delta points blog

The room was just fine. The bed was soft, the room was clean as well as the bathroom (but could use an update). All the towels were clean and bright. A robe was clean and hanging (really like that)! There were even chocolates on the bed – nice little touch.

Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel club floor room bathroom delta points blog

You know it really is hard for a hotel to do all the little things right and the Sheraton LAX “checked all the boxes.”

If I had to nit pick on one tiny thing, it was that one of the outlets in the desk lamp did not work. That is how hard I had to look to find anything to gripe about!

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (8)

The lounge, that we enjoyed for breakfast, was great for a continental breakfast.

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (5)

I am one of those who likes a light breakfast anyway so this was just what I needed.

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (1)

Plus, I really was hoping for an upgrade and to be able to enjoy lunch on the way to ATL but it was looking dicey as to if I was going to get it or not, that is I was right on the bubble, but back to my hotel review for now.

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (2)

I am not a coffee drinker but the setup seemed complete for those who need java to get going!

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (4)

Plenty of room for seating.

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (7)

In the long single club room. TV was not too loud either (this can be really annoying to me).

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (6)

There is a small work station. The only thing that was free however was printing of boarding passes. But that was all I needed to get my HOOU anyway (just in case I did not upgrade).

Sheraton club room Sheration Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel DeltaPoints blog (3)

One of my fellow bloggers that I will not mention did not really care for the hotel due to shuttle issues. I agree it is important for an “airport” location to have timely service to the airport, but my wait for pickup was not overly long and the service to the airport was just as efficient. I will say this, on some runs I have just missed the “every ½ hour shuttle” and I in that case just use UBER. There are larger things to stress over than a quick free ride to the airport.

Stock photo Sheraton LAX

Stock photo Sheraton LAX

I look forward to my next stay the Sheraton Gateway LAX and will choose it again when needing a stay near LAX as it is a solid value at 7000 SPG points (4000 would be better ;-) ). Just to show you how great they were, when I ended up needing to cancel due to not making it out to LAX until the next day on my return, they allowed me to redeposit my points when they could have said no. That makes me REALLY want to go back again and again. Class act Sheraton LAX and well done! – René

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.
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Posted by rene | 7 Comments

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