Elio outside

Say hello to my new car. I have just put down a deposit for a place in line to get my Elio and it even helped me to meet some spend on my 2nd Delta AMEX Reserve card for the year (I just wish the AMEX extended warranty would apply but it does not). I mean, most car companies bristle over the idea of even putting a deposit on a credit card, but Elio embraces paying in full on a card – sweet!

elio11_interior2

Oh, and did I mention it is $6,800 and gets 84 MPG on the highway? This will be the perfect replacement to my almost 15 year old Suzuki that has been a great car but is less than efficient when it comes to fuel. When I run the numbers, much like Delta has with the 737-900 vs. the 757, my Elio will pay for itself in fuel savings – let alone how uber-kewl it is and how much fun it will be to drive!

Now before you go to Elio Motors web site no, you can not get one yet as they are not making them yet. I imagine being on the cutting edge of these puppies will be interesting, but I am embracing this. I love the concept and role this vehicle will fill. To have a car to run around town and drive to the range of Delta served airports around my home town will be just what I need.

I also love the idea of Pep Boys as a nationwide service location plus I have one under an hour away from my home.

My plan is, when it comes time to pay for my Elio, to buy an AMEX gift card to get the cash back via TopCashBack or BeFrugal, earn points, thus getting an even better price paying for the balance due.

bear at the train station

Is my Elio ready yet?

Are there risks with this? Sure, do keep in mind this company has only made prototypes so far and I hate waiting as most readers know. How perfect the final product, not to mention the first ones off the line, will be is an unknown. When will they start rolling off the line? They say about this time next year.

Bottom line for me, being an all things travel nut enthusiast and one who loves travel I am eager to give this kind of an adventure and technology a run. What do you think of Elio? Do you like the look of the vehicle? Would you own one? I would love to know! – René
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Posted by rene | 2 Comments

 

my personal results for Delta upgrads at a Delta medallion flyer delta points blog

One of the most common questions I get from readers, after how many medallions does Delta have, is how often does a medallion get an upgrade. The first question is a VERY closely guarded question Delta will not tell anyone (but if any insiders who read the blog wants to tell me I am all ears) :-) ! Anyway about the other questions, that I can shed some light on.

Now the chart you see above is my personal experience (other than the SPG one that is an extrapolation from my 100+ segments a year on Delta). I fly all kinds of routes from heavy medallion ones to medallion “lite” ones. This is an average from what I have seen and others have shared with me.

Now before you yell yourself hoarse at the screen you are staring at and are saying something like:

“These numbers are total junk as I NEVER get upgraded on my routes”

I understand your feelings and I did mention that these numbers are my experience and not what all will find. Plus, there is just SO much that does go into the equation as to just who get the upgrade (including holding the Delta AMEX Reserve card). But I want to talk about basics not nuances today.

So what do I think and feel about upgrades? Simple. From my experience on mixed routes I have found that as a Diamond I expect upgrades. I consistently, while buying the cheapest tickets, as a Diamond get a 90%+ upgrades each year. When I was a Platinum it was in the 70%-ish range. The short time I was Gold was 50-50 and as a Silver max 20%. I was never “just” an SPG Platinum Delta elite but of the 100+ segments I have flown my guess is about 5% upgrade success.

Those are my numbers. Time for you to chime in. Am I spot on or way off base? Please comment so I can have a base line to see how near we are to correct medallion upgrade numbers! – René

PS – Don’t forget time is RUNNING OUT on the 50,000 bonus points Delta AMEX cards promo!

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Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.

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Posted by rene | 25 Comments

 Note: I will be on vacation most of this week with my buddies in northern Michigan so I will have limited access to the blog and e-mail. I will be sure to follow up soon!

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.

rollover chart

I get this question all the time so time to rookie this one out and make is as clear as I can and I hope the chart above makes it more clear. But I will break it down in text too. Let’s dive right in.

Scenario one is the best and simplest one. You have a Delta AMEX card (smart) and you very simply spend your way to MQD exemption. I had that done in two months and will do so again in 2015. So in this case only the MQMs matter. Thus:

  • 25,000-49,999 you are Silver. You rollover every single MQM above 25,000 but under 50,000.
  • 50,000-79,999 you are Gold. You rollover every single MQM above 50,000 but under 75,000.
  • 75,000-124,999 you are Platinum. You rollover every single MQM above 75,000 but under 125,000.
  • 125,000 and you are Diamond and you rollover everything above the 125,000.

Now you will only have your MQD exemption until 31DEC each year. Once 1JAN hits you keep the MQMs you rollover (for that year) but you risk losing them if you do not re-qualified for MQD exemption again the next year. Yes, you can lose all your MQMs.

Now let’s go on to the more convoluted non-MQD exempt rules. The simplest way to understand this is that the MQD spend is the lowest common denominator in this equation and is all important! Lets look at some examples:

  • $1,000 MQD spend and 30,000 MQMs. You are nothing and rollover nothing!
  • $2,500 MQD spend and 30,000 MQMs you are silver and rollover 5,000 MQMs.
  • $2,500 MQD spend and 80,000 MQMs you are silver and rollover 55,000 MQMs.
  • $5,000 MQD spend and 80,000 MQMs you are gold and rollover 30,000 MQMs.

And on and on from there. So again, without exemption the MQD spend is all important. As I talked about already the all import point is at least meeting the $2,500 level. You could rollover 200,000 MQMs from the year before and lose them all if you don’t hit that at least (or earn your MQD exemption, clearly).

coach mdq atl-lax

Other things to keep in mind. MQD is not the ticket price but the part of the ticket that goes to Delta as you can see above. Tax does not count. Extra bits do not count. Just the base ticket price as you see above.

Touching on MQD exempt spending now. AMEX spending counts per calendar year NOT the date you got the card and it is the POST date not the charge date. So, anything that posts by 23:59 on 31DEC counts in that year. After 00.01 on 1JAN on that year. Also, it is when you earned MQMs that count. So say your statement close date is 15th each month. If you earned the MQMs in the previous year, and say your statement closes 15JAN, and you earned say bonus MQMs, they will NOT count on the new year but in the previous year you earned them. However, all the spend, again, from 1-15JAN does count on the current year. Clear?

roll over

And just because it comes up year after year, the rollover has happened year after year in the first few weeks of January. Also, there is no rollover MQD spending. If you spend more than $25,000 on your personal, business or a combo of the both Delta AMEX cards you still reset to zero on 1JAN each year.

This so far is what is in place that we know about. Now a bit of speculation. Will rollover continue? I think so as adding the MQD levels has worked to thin the herd a bit. Will the MQD AMEX exemption go away? I doubt it for a number of reasons. First, AMEX is a huge partner and they are already very upset about the lounge access reduction for the AMEX Reserve card from Delta. Cutting the MQD spend exemption all the way up to Diamond would lead to MASS defection from the co-branded cards especially the high end Reserve card.

So there you are. Did I miss anything? Feel free to comment below with questions as well as checking them for other info and Q&A from readers. – René
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Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.

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Posted by rene | 11 Comments

Note: I will be on vacation most of this week with my buddies in northern Michigan so I will have limited access to the blog and e-mail. I will be sure to follow up soon!

dont take for granted

Here we go with another DeltaPoints day of reflections. I really enjoyed reading all the great comments from readers last week about why they like our Delta that we choose to fly. Delta always tells us we do have a choice (well most of us do anyway who are not hub captive).

So today I thought I would run through a list of what you may be taking for granted compared to the other airlines out there. We get used to the way things are “supposed to be” not always realizing the other guys are no where NEAR as good as our Delta when it comes to a great many things. Let me show you what I mean!

  • No expiration for Skymiles. You do know other airlines, if you don’t fly or buy something via their shopping portal or hold one of their CO-branded credit cards your miles will go bye-bye! Not with our Delta!
  • The Might Schedule Change rule. I have to admit I don’t work with other airlines much but from what I have seen Delta is one of the most accommodating in the sky when it comes to working with you fee free when a change happens.
  • Skybonus & Crossover Rewards. While other airlines may have a business program, the rewards from Skybonus can be quite good and the dual earnings tie-in with SPG is just tops. Everyone likes a double dip but to triple dip each dollar spent is special!
  • MQD exemption all the way to the top elite level via AMEX spending. So far only United has copied Delta’s revenue based frequent flyer program, but they did so badly. You cannot spend your way to 1K (their public top tier) but only to Platinum. We can be exempt as Diamonds and, ah hem, “only” fly 125,000 miles then to be top tier elite.
  • Full flat seats on ALL wide body jets to Europe guaranteed! One of the most frustrating things when you book a premium cabin product is not getting the experience you booked and paid for. With Delta this will not be the case (do note they still fly narrow body jets non-full flat).
  • Unlimited complimentary medallion upgrade to Hawaii (other than from ATL). This was a nice program change that is really sweet. Sorta reopening the JFK-Transcon upgrades for DM & PM is a move in the right direction. Now give FO & GM’s a shot too and put it in print on Delta.com and we are “cooking with gas” as they say!
  • Global & Regional upgrade certificates. Delta elites have been clambering for these for YEARS. Other airlines have allowed their top elites to get an upgrade from almost any fare and now Delta has this choice as well if you select these certs as one of your Choice Benefits. Redemption space is very good as well.
  • WiFi on almost any flight. There are few jets I fly with Delta that do not have WiFi. WiFi is even coming to international birds now. Sure there are CRJ200′s (still 348 in the air with “Delta” paint on the outside) that do not have WiFi, but they are SLOWLY going away more and more – also something I don’t take for granted by the way! ;-)
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades. The upgrade system just works. Sure there are a great many things that factor into the upgrade process, but I know the system down pat and as a Diamond, with my Delta AMEX Reserve card I am at 90%+ upgrades this year. Sweet!
  • Biscoffs & Woodford Reserve. While neither of these goodies are good for my diet they sure are nummy. To have such a tasty treat and a quality adult beverage on board almost every flight is a delight!
  • Phone app including bag tracking built in. Maybe I am just seeing this from a Delta fan boy view, but I really like the Fly Delta app. I wish it were a tiny bit faster once I get over 10 reservations, but if that is my biggest gripe it is mostly a #FirstWorldProblems kind of thing!
  • Partner network is huge. Want to go anywhere on the planet? Skyteam can get you there and the “team” view of quality and recognition really is solid at this point. Not perfect mind you, but solid and that is saying much to me.
  • Medallion phone reps! They truly, a bulk of the time, just fix it. Sure now and then I have to HUCB but I can count on, with some work, finding someone who WILL fix it whatever the it is.
  • Dumping CRJ200′s as fast as they can (please go faster)! Those of you who, say, live in MYR can truly appreciate never having to fly a CRJ200 from home again. I envy you and I know Delta is “trying” to dump the last 348 as fast as they can.

So there you are. I am sure I have missed some things that I am still taking for granted, but so much so that I have forgotten to add it to my list. So you tell me what I should have included! – 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 | 6 Comments

Note: I will be on vacation most of this week with my buddies in northern Michigan so I will have limited access to the blog and e-mail. I will be sure to follow up soon!

economy+2+hi

I ask you, does the above photo inspire you? Does your heart build with excitement about the upcoming ride? Do you feel like your vacation has now begun?

777+Economy+In-flight+Entertainment+hi

Maybe if you look at coach seats from another view. Look at all those shiny IFE screens. Does this cramped cabin look any better now? Does it make you giddy with glee for an 8 hr ride across the pond to Europe now?

No? I did not think so either but just checking. And the reason for this post. You see, there tend to be two schools of thought and they are nothing like each other. One of them is this – coach is just fine. They say:

  1. A coach seat is fine as the trip is short anyway
  2. Airline food is never that good and coach food works
  3. On long haul international flights IFE is about the same
  4. Drinks are often free in coach on international flights
  5. It takes a bunch less points in coach so more trips or more fly
  6. It is all about the destination not about how you get there.

I disagree with ALL of these either completely or at least to a large degree. Other bloggers hold up these items ON HIGH to be extolled, but let me break down why they really are hogwash and those who feel this way are flat out wrong. Here is why.

A coach seat, even a “good one” is nothing like a business or 1st class seat. Some say a biz or 1st seat is only marginally better than a seat in your car or sofa and you don’t want to spend hours on end there. I disagree. I like my leather sofa at home and spend a great deal of time on it. Plus, I always tell folks why I like flying this way is simple. I ask them, what do you do at home in your leather seat? They say, I watch videos, play on wifi, have a drink and a bite to eat. I then say, I do the same thing at 500MPH and very nice people bring me food and drink. That brings us to the next point – the food.

The coach meal experience is to me like a bad TV dinner. It is as my mom says: “överlevnads mat” or basically food you can survive on, but that’s it. Delta is well known for providing good quality food in business class. Starting with sparkling wine, a nice appetizer, a good dinner and dessert make a flight FUN! Plus the next meal is often nice too but less so in coach. Give me business anytime!

Next we have IFE. Not the same. Plus, in coach there is nothing like having a passenger behind you playing whack-a-mole on your seat back. Oh and the screen is SO much better in biz! Once again, the fun factor is way up in biz.

Now on to drinks. Yes, Delta has upgraded the offers in coach on international flights but the quality, at least when it comes to red wine, is SO much better up front (as well as the selection). If you like the hard stuff OK I agree it is a push.

I have more points than I can spend. It is SO simple to earn a ton of points. If you are being cheap with your points and flying coach you are not trying hard enough! Seriously! You are not playing the game the right way. Study up and stop saying coach is fine due to saving points!

When it comes to ALL about the destination, you are missing out. Yes, the destination is important and the reason for the travel, but in no way ALL important. You are missing out on a HUGE, MAJOR, MASSIVE fun part of your adventure that can add to the joy of the adventure if you are stuck back in coach.

So there you are. Now I know I am clearly coming from my point of view, but unless you agree with me you are missing out. There are SO many points to be had that if you are struggling to have enough points for some great trip – take a little more time and double the points you now have; it is so simple to do! – René
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Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.

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Posted by rene | 7 Comments

Note: I will be on vacation most of this week with my buddies in northern Michigan so I will have limited access to the blog and e-mail. I will be sure to follow up soon!

delta sdc rules going down again

Sigh. I mean, deep sigh. One day a Ph.D. doctoral thesis on how to take an HVC, that is a high value customer, and infuriate them to the point of an embolism. It would not be a hard subject to consider as Delta’s schizophrenic changes to the SDC, or same day change, rule is a perfect topic to review.

First let me show you the latest update I have from Delta regarding my query to the changes that just hit this past week. I was told:

  • Changes to Origin and Destination are not permitted
  • Changes from connection to nonstop are not permitted
  • Changes from nonstop to connection are permitted

Oh joy – just perfect. In case you are perplexed over all of this, let me bring you up to speed. Way back when, Delta had an amazing SDC rule. You could, with open space found, get home early if your plans changed. Delta did not like this, so, in change #1 they went hard core even charging fees to HVCs then in change #2 backpedaled on that change. Now, an open spot was not enough. There had to be space in your fare class and that, last minute, was unlikely. Then, after enough 1st class fare ticket purchasers complained in change #3, Delta changed it so that 1st class was basically exempt and back to the old rules (and the passengers in 1st rejoiced). Today, as you can see in change #4, another layer of restrictions has been placed on BOTH groups!

The reason for all these changes, like all changes Delta makes, is to make more money. The first round was to stop those from buying cheap tickets and then changing. You want to change free, then pay up for a flexible ticket (often much more money btw). Then someone looked at the 1st class tickets and was smart enough to think that maybe if you are this hard core to someone already paying much more than most they may just go to another airline. So they changed back. But now, due to some perhaps buying a much cheaper JFK-ATL-LAX and then changing to the JFK-LAX direct, that had to be stopped.

Plus, for coach class, the change to connection from nonstop is still very hard as not just one flight but two have to have the same fare class seats.

So back to my doctoral thesis idea. Delta has decided once again to infuriate 1st class flyers and coach class flyers have yet one more layer of bureaucracy to endure.

Happy flying week everyone? – René
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Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.

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Posted by rene | 5 Comments

swiss backpack

This week I finally had to let go of my old backpack. I thought I was in love with it but then I discovered the zippers were not all that strong. It had many multi-pockets, but most were too small to be useful. The handle, well, not perfect. I could go on. So time to upgrade.

This Swiss Gear one looks perfect to me. Most time I have my laptop in it’s own bag but there are times I want to have just a backpack. So this one fills that need. Plus, the pockets are all spacious. The handle is rock solid and works. I am most pleased with my upgrade.

delta points polo shirt black

Now on to the SWAG Saturday part. The rules, that are almost always the same, are  HERE  so if new to the blog take a look because by commenting you are agreeing you have read the rules! Oh in addition to the very nice backpack, inside it I will include a Delta Points custom embroidered polo shirt and some other nice swag as well (and some HOOU coupons too)!

1 year hoou have one on us delta coupone delta points blog

Then what do I need from you this week for a shot at this nice travel package? Let’s just make it a quick and simple YES or NO answer to this question (but you can comment more if you like).

Did you know that the free bag fee waiver, from the Delta AMEX Gold card, for you and up to 8 more traveling with you, does NOT require you to pay for the ticket with your Delta AMEX Gold card to get the perk? Yep you can pay with any other card like your Barclay’s Arrival+ card to pay yourself back with points and still get the free bag perk (just make sure your Delta AMEX Gold shows up on your My Delta.com page)! – René
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Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.

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Posted by rene | 334 Comments

winner of the 15000 mqms from deltapoints blog

First off, thanks all  700+  of you who took part in this week’s SWAG Saturday! I think I will have to do this every year and this was FUN!

jeffrey Smith wins mqms

Now to our winner via random.org #7 who is Jeffrey Smith. I have sent over the MQMs to him and he tells me:

“You sir, are one special person. Thank you for all you write about and help educate us newbies!”

Happy to help Jeffrey and thank YOU for supporting the blog. I hope you make your goal of reaching Diamond this year!

Now for the rest of you who did not win, sorry, but do know the Delta Platinum card, after spend, can get you the EXACT SAME 15,000 MQM bonus!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another round of SWAG Saturday! – Rene
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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

photo credit aboutourkids.org

This week I have hundreds and hundreds of comments about why we love our Delta. However, I wanted to remind flyers that Delta has one of the worst rules about what happens to a flyer’s hard earned Skymiles when they die (but had the best in the past). Yep, when you go, so do your Skymiles.

Dear grieving widow or child, you cannot use your daddy’s Skymiles as they have now turned to ash and dust; so sorry to be the one to add one more bit of pain to you during your grieving time!

IMO this really is one of the most disgusting changes Delta has made in the past few years of enhancements devaluations.

A question most ask is, and also a reason for this post as a reference point, does Delta scour the obituaries and go looking for accounts to close down due to the unfortunate demise of the frequent flyer? No (I have been told).

This does mean if you DO HAVE the former frequent flyer’s number, and the password, you can book tickets from the account for anyone you want. In other words, if you happen to have a large stash of Skymiles saved up and you plan to spend them one day it would be very wise to put your frequent flyer number and password somewhere it can be found by those who love you just in case, cuz you just never know. I don’t plan to check out tomorrow, but I could get hit by a bus on my way to my next flight.

Bad value but you can cash out Skymiles.

Bad value but you can cash out Skymiles.

Now Delta does say they could cancel an award ticket booked this way – even in the middle of a trip! So, while normally this is a VERY bad value for your Skymiles,  you may look at cashing out for AMEX gift cards from the Skymiles Marketplace to lock in what you can (if your former loved on had access to it that is).

Other airlines, like American, have a small service fee to transfer miles to someone else when you die. I find it very disappointing Delta did not move to this kind of arrangement rather than just coldly telling us the points are for the frequent flyer and them only. Perhaps if more write in and complain about this policy they will think about changing it?

At least you now know and can make the proper arrangements!- René
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Posted by rene | 7 Comments

GearUp Summer2014 Delta OCC magazine

I really enjoyed being on the very first ever revenue flight of Delta’s 737-900ER! Getting to sit in seat 0A and see the heads up display and more was just #AVgeek overload that had my head spinning (and I could not stop smiling for hours)!

I also enjoyed my recent visit to Delta OCC and picked up the summer copy of GearUp by the OCC folks. It was a very interesting read including a piece by a sector operations manager that asked “Can a 737-900 really replace a 757?

photo from Delta GearUp - Summer 2014

photo from Delta GearUp – Summer 2014

The highlights of the article touched on the current routes Delta flies the 737-900 and discussed many factors where the jet shines, such as replacing the 757 on routes where it is “too much airplane“. The neatest part to me was the fuel savings over the life of the plane. A comparison was made that showed on many routes the fuel savings ALONE would just about pay for the cost of the new 737! That is impressive.

Many more 737-900′s are on the way and I really like the business and coach class seats on the jet vs the old 757 that is really showing its age. The IFE is clearly MILES better as well as consistent power throughout the plane. Even though most complain about “slim line” seats, the ones Delta has chosen are quite good.

1st class seats delta 737-900 vs 757 jets

One of the only disappointments I guess from a passenger experience side is the reduction in upgrade opportunities because you are talking 20 first class on the 737 seats vs 22/24/26 seats depending on just what version of the 757 happened to be on whatever route previously. Next time you end up #1 or 2 with ZERO seats open for upgrade on a 737 keep in mind you would have cleared had the 757 been still flying.

I am sure most of you have had the chance to try the new birds. What do you think? Are you happy with them (you better be, we will be flying them for decades). Shout out and tell us/me what you think. – René

 

PS – Be sure to enter to WIN 15,000 MQMs this week!

..

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Editorial Note: 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 any card issuer.

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Gold Delta SkyMiles®
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Posted by rene | 15 Comments

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