Why are so many Delta “partnerships” so strange and strained nowadays?

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cleaning station

(Images via: Nat.Geographic, AboutFish, DiveGallery, UWPhotos and ScienceBlogs)

I love scuba diving. If you never have been you should try it one day. There is so much life everywhere! Day or night there is motion and movement. Then there are truly amazing things like “cleaning stations” where prey is not eaten by much larger, scary predators. I don’t know about you but I just could not trust doing what these little creatures do. You never know when the predator might just snap!

Now for the rest of this post consider Delta as the eel with large, big teeth in these next examples and see if you don’t agree with me that there is something very odd and strange going on here.

  • First we have American Express. Clearly Delta appreciates the relationship with AMEX and the Skymiles they buy each year. However, most also know at this point that the May 1st reduction in Skyclub benefits from the AMEX Reserve card were not shared with AMEX in advance. The success of the Centurion Lounges is a great buffer against more moves like this by not just Delta but other airline partners.
  • Then we have Air France & KLM. Award space comes and goes (mostly goes). From what I have been told Delta has been very stingy paying and sharing award space with the Skyteam partners and thus they are doing the same toward us as Skymiles members. Gotta be careful as a Delta partner – just ask Korean.
  • Speaking of Korean, have you priced a Korean flight vs. the same flight as a Delta code share? Just a teeny tiny price difference (ok so a huge difference). Now we all know if you want points you had better pick the code share.
  • Are you starting to feel like a cleaning “fish” yet? No? Let’s talk about Alaska. Delta has made a HUB of their home town airport. Expansion is nonstop and every month Delta brings a new challenge to win flyers, like by awarding elite status to anyone who lives in Washington.
  • How about Hawaiian. Delta calls them a partner airline. Hawaiian? They call Delta “Other“! Earning points on this, ah hem, partner is less that glorious. And we all found last year we can no longer redeem Hawaiian points to fly Delta (not that it was that simple to do when you could)!
  • How about the Pilots union? If you look at the tweets from the last big meeting in Chicago you will see just how Delta treats them. We know Delta is not a fan of unions, but then again Delta does sorta need the sky jockeys to drive the jets. Maybe they should be a little careful with these guys and gals?

I really could go on all day long with this. Delta is king of the hill right now. They can do no wrong. Any “partner” who dares to defy them will just get the cold shoulder or pushed out of the way. I think anyone wanting to do business with our mothership should be very afraid! – René

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What are the DUMBEST things you can do to get free / discounted Delta travel?

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airline fraud

Nothing we points enthusiasts do is FRAUD. Sure we read the rules very carefully. We often times take advantage of programs in ways they were maybe not intended to be used, but still inside the “ropes” as it were. Even when it comes to booking a flight we may look at the most full flight or times and offer up our seat for each leg, but nothing fraudulent about this just knowing what can work our way at times.

Then there are the areas that can cross the line. Let’s take for example buddy pass or similar items. These are a perk for working for an airline. Airline employees can use these or GIVE them to family or friends but they are not to sell them for a profit.

Then there is THIS guy who took non-rev travel to a whole new fraud level even teaching others and helping them to defraud the airlines. Shocking plus clearly illegal and wrong. I hope they throw the book at people like this. As funny as movies like “Catch me if you can” about Frank Abagnale Jr. are, in the end he had to pay up for what he did.

Now there are other things not as extreme that are just as fraudulent with our Delta. Like what? Well let’s talk about MQD exemption. The correct ways are either meeting spend level or spending enough on Delta AMEX cards. Whatever AMEX reports to Delta as OK spend is OK. However, Delta does not require MQD spending for those who live outside the USA. If you do live in the USA but say you live outside the USA that is fraudulent and you risk being kicked out of Skymiles if they audit your account. I mean if you say you live in Paris but 95% of your flights start in Atlanta (hello – McFly) They say on Delta.com:

“Delta reserves the right to audit an account at any time for residency requirements, request further supporting documentation and update the address for any member’s SkyMiles account using the National Change of Address (NCOA) data filed by relocating postal customers, but shall have no obligation to do so. Accounts found in violation are subject to penalty, up to and including termination of Medallion status and closure of the SkyMiles account.” – Delta.com

Most of the other ways I have been told in private about have been eliminated by Delta IT fixes and that really pleases me. Back in the old days of paper certs and tickets I was told there were ways to spend the same bump money ones over and over again. Clearly this not OK and good these things are over with e-tickets and e-credits to fix this kind of abuse.

Bottom line is simple, we have so many ways to correctly earn a great deal of points and rewards from Delta – just never ever step across that line and suffer the consequences of your actions! – René

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SWAG Saturday: What is your favorite travel tip?

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swiss backpack

Boy so many seemed to really love the SWAG Saturday a few weeks ago for a new backpack and Delta Points Polo (plus some other goodies) so why not run the same giveaway again!

This Swiss Gear is the one I now am using (as well as a reader from last round). I think if you win you will really like it for your Delta travels as well!

delta points polo shirt black

SWAG Saturday 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! Like last round 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 – have one on us – 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 make it really fun. Comment below and give me your best travel tip you live by and want everyone to know!  – 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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Before you go venting on social media, try to fix it yourself please!

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vent

I always think of the line from Shrek about “Grab your torch and pitchforks!” When it comes to complaining about whatever went wrong. I mean it is OH so simple to just get upset, even enraged, and then jump on social media and YELL:

a tweet about what went wrong - venting on social media

And then you stop and think about what you just did. Plus, did the vent fix anything really? Was it the best way to go about fixing it?

There are so many better ways to go about venting that will result in more than just you blowing off some steam. After all, you want some kind of satisfaction as a result of whatever befell you right? So how should you do this and what should you do? Plus, what can you complain about and what can you expect to get?

delta-FA-hand-unit sales

First off, complaining to @DeltaAssist doubtfully will help unless it is something under their control like seats or flights or such. Most times you are MUCH better off just using Delta.com to lodge a complaint if you want results. The exception could be on-board issues that can be fixed by the FA using their hand unit to make Skymiles or an ETV for you to right away make up for the issue.

How should you go about complaining? Please don’t write War and Peace. The customer service rep reading your venting rant will just glaze over and start to skim what happened. No, please include all the pertinent info like:

  • Flight
  • Date
  • PNR
  • Ticket number
  • Your status

With this, and a short, concise explanation of what happened should be all you need. If you are booked in 1st class, either on an award or paid for, this could be useful to include.

Should you ask for something specific as compensation? I have to tell you getting money back is highly unlikely unless whatever happened is so egregious that the event could go viral on the web. Don’t expect the moon. Under most circumstances the above facts will determine what you are offered. If you don’t like the offer you can e-mail back for a bit more and maybe get a bit more with e-mail two. However most times the first offer is all you will get.

Also it is worth noting that you need to know who to complain to. If you got the ticket for example from Alaska using Alaska points and fly Delta do you complain to Delta or to Alaska or both. My answer is start with the airline you have the highest status with. If they say go complain to the other airline then you go there. If they say go back to the other airline then you push them as they are the one you go the ticket from. If they push again then go back to the airline you flew on and push them again. The DOT should really be the last step as you are unlikely to get what you want that way. Yes, the airline may get in trouble but you are unlikely to benefit from this way!

What if all this fails to satisfy you. Should you then go to social media and vent away? No not yet! You can try sending a real letter or e-mail to Delta but this should be just about the last step. Please e-mail ME before you go this route. Depending on what the situation is I can maybe reach out to my Delta contacts and help or I can tell you that you will likely NOT get a better result taking it further.

So should you EVER take it to social media when all this has failed? Maybe but don’t expect this to help unless the issue goes viral. The chance of this happening is remote and I have found most times all the other methods will not only yield better results but make you feel better that you have done all you can to get a resolution to the situation! – 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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Preparing for the #DestructionOfSkymiles #DOS now only months away!

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countdown to the destruction of skymiles

I have added a countdown clock on the right side of the blog both here and on the Delta Mileage Run blog so we can all be alert to the destruction that will befall 98% of us (you 2% who will be overpaying for tickets and are happy can come back tomorrow). It is time to prepare for what is to come. There are also a great many things that we are soon to find out. Let’s knock them out one by one.

First, flying will be the worst way to earn Skymiles. Other than consolidator fares that will shockingly do better under Skymiles2015 the rest of us will need to look at spending as little as we can each time we fly Delta and yet still picking the longest flights for MAX MQMs. The idea of earning more for spending more is a mistake and there are so many better ways to earn points that do not include setting your hard earned cash on fire with Delta.

The next big shoe to drop before Skymiles 2015 begins will be earnings on partners. Delta.com says:

“Flights marketed and ticketed by Delta’s partner airlines will earn mileage based on a percentage of distance flown and fare class paid. More details will be announced later in 2014.”

Just how bad will things be? Well considering the Destruction of Skymiles so far, expect nothing good. When you look at what KLM awards for cheap tickets – it ain’t much. This could be the face of partner awards for 2015. Also expect less points unless flights are code share flights. After all, unless Delta gets a cut there is no reason to award us full points!

Also be aware our Delta is not done yet “enhancing” the program as we should expect Skymiles will get worse next year again. I will not be shocked for MQMs to be the next part to be decimated. Sure, doing this will be the height of foolishness as it will drive even more business flyers away from Delta, but I expect they will try it until they see the negative results that ensue.

skymiles 2015 upcharge

We still have no idea what the new award page / engine will be like, but I expect we will mostly see level 2 awards with up-charges and some greater level 1 awards. I think we will still have the same fight we have now leg by leg to find most level 1 awards. Unfortunately most of the “sheeple” will be thrilled to spend 25,000 miles and blow a few hundred bucks for tickets not knowing they are overpaying for their awards.

Another big question is will one way awards include both stopovers and open jaw? Right now one of the best values for Delta hub flyers is the 3 for the price of 2 award tickets. Will this and the other great perks become even better under Skymiles 2015? If it does it will be a true shocker and big win for the program.

Alaska is maybe the biggest question we still have yet to answer. I will have enough rollover MQMs to become Diamond for all of 2016 as soon as I meet my MQD exempt spending next year. I am seriously considering crediting my Delta flights to Alaska. Then again, will there even be a Delta – Alaska partnership to credit to in 2015 and just how few points will a Delta flyer get crediting to Alaska?

So many questions we will soon have answer to and will drive our choices for the next year. At least we should not have to wait too much longer to find out. – 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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Buying my new car with a points card – $6,800 brand new – hello Elio! (oh and 84 MPG)

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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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How often does a Delta medallion get an upgrade? Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver & SPG Platinum?

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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

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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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Do you take the “good stuff” from Delta for granted? I don’t! Let me show you what I mean.

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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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Is coach good enough – NO – the ride is just as important a part of the adventure to me!

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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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How to INFURIATE flyers 101 – The lessons unlearned from SDC i.e. Same Day Change rules with Delta

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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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Are you more / less happy with the Delta 737-900 vs 757? You better be!

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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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I went to CVS yesterday. No not for those, for a Flu shot! Do you get one? Should you?

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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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Real world tests of the Boingo Hotspot app. Some good – some meh!

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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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More Delta schedule changes have rolled in this weekend – check your flights!

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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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The points game is not fair – but who says it has to be?

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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.

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  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.

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  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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