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 | 6 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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Posted by rene | 16 Comments

a shot

Most of you all know I will be flying a ton in September. I will visit ATL, CVG, DTW, MSP, GRR, LAX, LAS, MIA, EWR, PHX, AMS, DFW, SFO, GOT and a few more I think. Some of them I will visit several times. Yeah, I see lots of bumpertunites, that is, chances for oversold flights and getting a bump and a voucher for taking a later flight. But I also see chances for lots of sick people with all sorts of nasty bugs. And we all know planes are not all “that clean” right? The one thing I don’t want is to do all that flying sick as a dog! And not just for me, but I do not want to share a bug with my fellow flyers either.

flu shot sign at cvs

So yesterday I started calling around to see if anyone in my area already had received this year’s flu vaccine shipments and the first two places basically said:

You are WAY too early, check back late September.

Well a fat lot of good that will do for me as I need one NOW as it takes a little while to build up full immunity. But then I called my local CVS (I mean I go there anyway now and then) and they said sure you will the 2nd person this season to get one from us. Sweet!

But this got me thinking about my annual flu shot. Is it a good idea? The CDC site has lots of info for us to consider, but I also reached out to Dr. Julien since he was so great to help with a much appreciated Sunday reader post. Here is what he shared with me.

Hi Dr. Julien, hey thanks for taking the time to help with this post.
Nice to hear from you René.

Do you get one each year yourself?
Yes. Flu vaccines are extremely safe as long as you’re not allergic to them or have a previous history of Guillain-Baré syndrome. Generally speaking, any healthcare provider offering flu shots should always go through a list of contraindications before injecting.

Some of the places I called here in Indiana seemed to indicate I was jumping the gun in getting my shot already. Can you get it too soon, that is too early? Is it better to wait?
No, the sooner the better. There is a two-week delay between injection and immunity. The CDC recommends to get vaccinated before the end of October.

Also, you might wanna know that there are two types of flu vaccines: trivalent and quadrivalent. Trivalent vaccines protect from three different strains (usually two A viruses and one B virus) and quadrivalent vaccines protect from four different strains (two A and two B). It’s impossible to know in advance which strains are going to be endemic in a specific region of the world. I would certainly encourage travelers to get a quadrivalent vaccine as they are more likely to encounter different types of flu viruses (as long as it doesn’t mean delaying your flu shot; in which case, simply go for a trivalent.) On the US market, French pharmaceutical Sanofi-Pasteur markets a quadrivalent vaccine called Fluzone whereas British competitor Glaxo-Smithkline markets Fluarix which is also quadrivalent. Both are single-dose injections with excellent records of safety. Also, Maryland-based pharmaceutical MedImmune offers an inhaled quadrivalent vaccine called FluMist. FluMist is an excellent option especially if you want to avoid an injection. However it is significantly more expensive and lots of insurance plans won’t cover it or might just cover it for children.

That is just what I needed to hear. Thanks so much for your input Dr. Julien and for being here for me and other Delta Points readers on the blog.
Happy to be of service René

Now clearly, even though Dr. Julien is an MD, you should always make your own decisions as to any kind of healthcare. Neither of us are telling you what to do. Having said that, I would love some reader feedback.

How many of you get a flu vaccine each year? Do you like to go as early as possible or before a long trip or flying internationally? Do you not get them for some reason? Please take the time to comment on the blog and share with us all! – 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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Posted by rene | 5 Comments

amex platinum boingo wireless access

One of the very long list of perks from the (non-Delta) AMEX Platinum Membership Rewards cards is a special Boingo Hotspot package free.

boingo from amex plan

I love free. I love the 40,000 points that come with the card (after $3,000 in spend). I love the $200 in airline credits. I like the $100 Global Entry fee rebate (when paid with the card). I REALLY love the Centurion lounge access and will be back to the club in DFW a bunch before year end. But do I love the Boingo access and app?

screen shots of boingo wifi trying to connect me

A bunch of airports are now offering free WiFi at least over here in the states including Delta’s own ATL hub Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The performance of the WiFi can swing up and down, but then again the Skyclub WiFi can be sometimes good and sometimes bad.

So I decided to test the Boingo app a bit during my last trip to Sweden on Lufthansa. The results were less than impressive I hate to say, bordering on useless. There is a Boingo hotspot in GOT airport but it would not connect. All the other free ones require your cell phone to work as they text you a code. My cell does not work in Sweden. I had similarly disappointing results in MUC airport.

What did work well was the auto connect whenever near an open free WiFi spot that Boingo could connect to. I found several places where it just connected me, but again these were OPEN spots not specifically Boingo spots.

I guess the bottom line is that the AMEX Platinum card comes with a ton of travel perks that just about pay for the card the first year or two, but the I would not say the Boingo hotspot feature is one that would push me to get this travel card! – René

 

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

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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

change

Thanks to a heads up from my twitter follower Rob (thank you, thank you, Rob) I was alerted that this weekend Delta has rolled out some new schedule changes over the next few months. So what, you ask?

cwsi-net sbn-dtw-lax

cwsi-net sbn-atl-lax

Well, we all should know the power of the mighty schedule change rule. It truly is the ticket to joy and more points. Take my above for example. I am flying a positioning flight out to LAX before my sub $600 GU cert to Sweden trip. I was connecting via DTW but getting in later than I wanted and NOT on a very good product.

delta-com 777 seatmap

Now, after this latest schedule change, I am getting in at a MUCH better time, and on a 777 full flat on my ride to LAX! SCORE! Oh and I will pick up a few extra MQMs and RDMs as well (never a bad thing, right) with help from my outstanding friends from CWSI and their handy dandy Skymiles calculator.

So if you have not taken a peek at your upcoming trips you may want to do so today! – 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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Posted by rene | 7 Comments

what is fair

Warning: I am in a contemplative mood this weekend and the result is this post. Just sharing the thoughts from this past week that have filtered down into my thinking, been churned up, and come out like this. Here we go:

  1. What the banks who make travel cards want: We get a card, get bonus, then use the card each time we buy anything ever.
  2. What we want: Get a HUGE new card bonus and then only use the card to get max value and points and pull whatever card gives us that.

————————————–

  1. What the airlines want: Buy the most expensive ticket they sell, buy all the upgrades like WiFi, hotel & cars from their site. Oh, and pay back the least amount of points possible.
  2. What we want: Buy the cheapest ticket, get free upgrades & avoid the airline site because we can get more points starting at other sites. Oh, and get max bonus points including promo routes.

————————————–

  1. What the hotels want: Pay the highest price possible per room, holding suites as long as possible to sell them too for as much as possible. Release as few rooms on points as they can and offer as few perks as they can get away with.
  2. What we want: To always book on points, get free upgrade as well as breakfast and much more. Oh, and points back as a rebate for even coming to the hotel and booking on points.

So do you see any problems here? You bet, what they want and what we want are in direct opposition to one another. The companies care about getting as much money as possible – Duh – and we want to keep as much of ours in our pockets while still getting value.

I recently had someone “ask / tell me” “what value I bring to Delta” (the blog but I am also extrapolating to me as a Diamond Medallion flyer)? That made me think and it really applies to the banks and the hotels as well. So while I am not the “ideal” HVC since I don’t just spend with no thought to the value I receive, I do make choices due to loyalty. Lets take a look.

  • Banks. I have a LOT of cards. In fact I have had or hold almost every single card ever made (not quite, but working on it). I get cards for the bonus points they offer. But I have cards that “Live” in my wallet. Some are always there. Others come and go. Some, like my AMEX Reserve card stays in place until I reach $60,000 in spend then there is ZERO point to spend more as I spend to earn MQMs. After that, no point. Now I do have two of them so I can switch to the 2nd for my next $60,000 in spend! And that is my point. I get the cards for the bonus. I use and keep the cards for value. If banks want me to keep pulling their cards they need to provide value. That is one of the reasons I like the Barclay’s Arrival+ card so much and pull it often!
  • Airlines. I am clearly a Delta fan boy. I don’t have to be. On the blog I call out Delta when they do dumb things. The airline does not like that – too bad – stop doing stupid things. I do provide value to Delta on the blog as I also tell about ways for flyers to “enjoy” a.k.a. stick with Delta even when devaluations hit rather than going away. If you look at my blogging brethren you will see 99.99% of them just do not like Delta, think I am a fool for sticking with Delta, and encourage others NOT to fly Delta. I could do that too, but I want people to fly and to be elites on Delta. So there is the answer to THAT question. What about me personally as a Diamond? Sure I do a few mileage runs now and then (ok ok a bunch of them) but I also do pick Delta for business and other flights when I do not have to. I have enough points and other choices that I could switch / status match to AA and be a top elite with them and to be honest AZO airport is not that much farther than SBN and prices are often much better. I choose to spend my money on Delta and that is value to the airline.
  • Lastly hotels. SPG has yet again this year sucked me in to get my 25 stays to be Platinum. I have canceled other bookings and switched to SPG properties. I hold one SPG card still but did cancel the second and I held them for the simple reason that each gave me 2 stay credits toward status. Will I keep going with SPG? I am not that far from lifetime GOLD so maybe but everyone keeps saying how great Hyatt is and I may have to consider a match next year at some point. Right now, I see SPG value plus the Crossover Rewards is a big factor.

Maybe we can have it both ways. But, the companies need to be careful. They can push us to get max value out of us but push too far and we will break. I do change what credit cards I use, I could switch airlines if things get bad enough, and hotels, well that is a simple move should I want to! – René

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

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 | 4 Comments

delta mec two

This week the Delta pilots union is meeting in Chicago to discuss all things that affect them. Today the top brass at Delta talked to them and shared how, due to the outstanding profitability of Delta, that the profit sharing will be way up this year. Good for the hard working Delta folks and that makes me most happy (just wish it did not come at the cost of $29+1′s for the Skyclubs).

One of the bits that grabbed my attention in the twitter feeds was what I have highlighted above, that is that fact that there are still a HUGE number of CRJ200′s out there compared to the large regional jets (348 vs. 281). I cannot wait for ALL the 717′s to come online as they can then free up more routes for the larger regionals and perhaps one day SBN can have a jet larger than a 50 seat sardine can (even if my buddie MJ still has fond memories for how cool they once were)!

delta mec tweets

The next one is all about WiFi. We know international GoGo is coming more and more to Delta’s international fleet. It seems, per the tweets, Delta pilots will get free access. How neat. Maybe I can have their code they get when they come onboard if they don’t plan to use it :-) .

6xkbT

757 seats from delta-com

The other bit was what seat on the 757 new configuration will be for crew rest. Why should this matter to you? There are times having a crew person next to you is not as nice as a “normal” flyer. Why? On a sleep flight you and your seat-mate will probably both sleep. The crew person may have to get up after a few hours or there could be a curtain for privacy and that can encroach on your space. Either way, I will be avoiding 4B if I have a choice from now on (not that I don’t like chatting with the crew mind you). – René

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 | 2 Comments

 

Delta vacations home page

Back in February I posted, including a quote from Delta Vacations stating that since they use consolidator fares at times they would not qualify for MQDs or Medallion Qualifying Dollars.

However there has been a great change. I received the following today:

“Travel professionals booking through Delta Vacations can now earn Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for their clients on all fares including published and unpublished. Delta Vacations is the only tour operator to offer travel professionals and their clients the ability to earn all Medallion qualification thresholds on published and unpublished Delta fares in addition to earning redeemable miles. These include MQDs along with Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) based on distance flown and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) based on segments flown. Delta SkyMiles customers earn Medallion status through a combination of MQMs for miles flown or MQSs for segments flown and their annual spending on Delta flights, which is measured by MQDs. For more information, please visit Delta’s SkyMiles Medallion Program site.” - Albert Snedeker, MLT Vacations

This is a good enhancement for a change and news I know many have been waiting for! And, when we look at the fact that under Skymiles2015, there can be times that consolidator fares will earn MORE Skymiles, this makes booking via Delta Vacations a solid option again. I also confirmed it is not ONLY for “Travel Professional” but for consumers who book as well.

There is also additional info from readers that you can request missing MQD credits for this year but YMMV. It is at least worth a try if you have missed out on some credits in 2014.- René

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

 sunny day on the SkyDeck Atlanta ATL airport F concorse Mileage Run Delta Points travel blog rene MKE to LAX (2)

Two weeks ago today as part of my visit to Delta I, with help from readers and my fellow blogger MJ on Travel & PM&M, setup a mini DeltaDO or get together. But how does one get that many folks into a Skyclub with many of them residing in ATL and not flying?

pass to get to skyclub via regus meeting room

The solution was hit upon by reader, Eric who said we could just rent a Regus conference room at a Skyclub and then all who were going to attend could get a gate pass to proceed through the TSA checkpoint.

The reason for this was many fold. First, we did not want to needlessly book fully refundable tickets on Delta that we had no intention to fly just to get past TSA (we do really like Delta after all). I was told that Delta could put our TSA Pre Check numbers or our Known Traveler Numbers into this gate pass and we could get TSA Pre for this. In reality it did not work at all. Ah well, not all that shocking that something from the TSA did not really work at all as stated.

Then we had to coordinate enough folks who were Diamonds to guest folks in; for now Diamonds still have the executive membership until 1FEB2015 so each could get two extra guests in. Many others had their own membership or got in some other way like via the Delta Reserve card or the non-Delta Platinum AMEX card. It did all work out believe it or not – much of it thanks to work from the group of readers (you all ROCK by the way)!

Dinner with Delta Points

Then we all meet-up at Malone’s for dinner and had a grand time sharing Delta bits and travel stories and got to know one another. For those of us who love our Delta it is great to be surrounded by fellow Delta fans! It was a truly a fun day and I look forward to next time. The group suggested next year a visit to the flight museum in Seattle. I think that sounds like a blast – anyone else game to join us? – René

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 | 10 Comments

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