This is kinda neat – post #2000 for Delta Points blog!

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post number 2000

November is a big month for the blog. This post you are reading is number 2000 (if you have not seen the 1999 previous to this you have some reading to do)! :-)

chart of delta points groth

November 17th will be 3 years since my very first blog post. I never dreamed the blog would be viewed over 3 million times over those years and readership continuing to grow at a steady clip.

rene with readers

Anyway, I just wanted to share and say thank you readers - I should say so much more often – running the blog has been a BLAST and I hope to meet you all one day up in the air, in a Skyclub or somewhere along our travels! – René

PS – if you are new to the blog
be sure to check out the
Delta Essentials, the Rookie posts
and you can support the blog HERE!

 -  i

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Delta, this is what we WANT for the 2016 Medallion program – please listen!

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delta medallion program page from delta-com

American Airlines has released their 2015 Frequent Flyer program and it looks really good to many. After all, the idea of a frequent flyer program, for an airline, is to drive profits to the company. Great idea and I agree 100%. But to me the way you accomplish that is to offer a program that incentivizes buying choices by all elites to choose one and only one airline even when maybe not the cheapest or most direct or convenient choice as the perks we receive and value we get drives us to spend all we can with that one airline! Delta.com says about the medallion program:

“As a Medallion member, your loyalty is rewarded with exclusive perks. Enjoy our industry-leading benefits including Rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades and new Choice Benefits for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Each of our four Medallion levels – from Diamond to Platinum to Gold to Silver – delivers an added level of service, exclusivity and rewards.

Each year, you can earn status through a combination of the miles or segments you fly, and your annual spending to enjoy added perks at the airport, on board and beyond.”

Good basic pitch but let’s look at these more closely as this is what Delta seems to think is what we want and is their marketing pitch to sell a flyer to fly Delta.

  • Loyalty is rewarded. Humm…. I see spending is rewarded with Skymiles 2015. Loyalty means very little if talking Skymiles.
  • Rollover is a big plus and does drive loyalty since this is an incentive to keep flying.
  • Unlimited UGs. Well if it were not so hodge podge this would be amazing as I will touch on later.
  • Choice Benefits. Yes, we love these but this needs to be tweaked. Again see below.
  • Service, exclusivity and rewards. Humm… Delta service is always good, but yes medallion reps are often very good and higher MQD spend will make it more exclusive and we are really fine with MQDs but as to rewards.. Well… We are talking Skymiles here. ;-)
  • Perks at the airport, on board and beyond. Perks like Skypriority rocks and boarding first. Onboard Delta has devalued HOOUs and beyond now so much as I will show below.

Not listed really in this little narrative, but touched on below, are some things we really do LOVE about the program. We do love:

Crossover Rewards, Skybonus, that Skymiles never expire, solid perks for each medallion level, free bags & that our status really is recognized by Delta people!

So now it is my turn. Delta. Dearest Delta. Here is what WE want to see for the most amazing and spectacular announcement that would make frequent flyers SCREAM how great Delta is. Yes, some will cost the company a little money, but if you reward us this way we WILL spend more and more at Delta rather than going to other airlines (that is the point right?)! Let’s go and really in no particular order of importance:

1) Stop taking things away from us. We are sick of “enhancements” that are really just cuts to what we already have.

2) Stop the take away when you give us something. There is nothing more madding to see an announcement you get this.. but… and then we see the other half of the equation.

3) Please fix the partner award space issue. Sure this may cost you but we should be able to find Skyteam award space on Delta.com (at least).

4) Oh fix the award page. We know you are working on that but when you don’t fix it so much that the only thing we see are low level seats plus CASH functioning as a new profit center for Delta. We earned our awards – let us spend them. Don’t charge us for EVERY low level award we find (I know you are thinking about doing this Delta – DON’T YOU DARE)!

5) Global upgrades and Regional upgrade are amazing. We really appreciate them. They are an amazing value and they do drive our buying choices to go Delta to attain them. But we are not getting enough. At least match what other airline programs have, that is 8 Global as a Choice Benefit for Diamonds.

6) Delta Skyclub for Diamonds should be Executive so +1’s can come in. You, Delta, are trying to make Diamond more exclusive. That is great. At least then give Diamonds full access not just individual access to the clubs (and don’t tell us the clubs are worth it – they are not all that special compared to others).

7) Enforce the upgrade list at gates including after boarding. Please, on Delta.com, and in training and memos to Delta GA s tell them to stick with the list. If an elite boards and space is open take the extra minute or two to pull them up from coach. An elite should not have to wait to board to not risk shenanigans from happening.

8) Million miler program. You are still giving MQMs and using them as part of the equation for elite status as well as MM status. How about a clean chart for status as well as a shot at DM. How about:

1MM = Silver
2MM = Gold
4MM = Platinum
6MM = Diamond

With these numbers flyers have shown loyalty to Delta. Delta should in equal measure show loyalty back to a flyer. This would be simple, straight forward and good. Oh, and please change the wording back to lifetime while you are at it.

9) Expand rather than takeaway award stopover choices for award tickets. Why should you care if we stop once or twice along the way if we are flying the same distance or the same number of flights. Make this a way to see the world and enjoy the points we worked so hard to earn.

10) Upgrade from ALL of USA including transcon and Hawaii (even from ATL). Give us all a shot at all domestic routes. This would be a big perk that would drive us to fly Delta that much more! Having the sorta-kinda-maybe-not-in-print upgrade from JFK-SFO/SEA/LAX is just insulting and not being able to upgrade to Hawaii from ATL/MSP/NYC is beyond frustrating. Give us the perk (at least for PM & DM’s).

So this, IMO, would be an announcement that would make people FLOCK to Delta. To see, not only is the airline the best in the world, but the frequent flyer program is a reason to be loyal and always fly Delta! What do you think. Agree with me? Please add what else would be a home run for our medallion program – René
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Reflections on “StopoverGate” & I need to stop reading View from the Wing!

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sm2015

I give Delta IT folks a hard time. I have been chastised by other Delta folks for giving said folks a hard time. You know what, sorry, I have worked in IT for 20 year and they deserve it. This latest “StopoverGate” is just one in a long string of examples I can point to (when it comes to Skymiles – the rest of Delta IT does seem to work VERY well).

When I think about it I really should thank them for being so bad with Skymiles IT because of it we now have a tiny window into just how bad #DOS or the Destruction of Skymiles will be next year. And as I keep warning folks that Delta plans to #KeepDescending as much as we will possibly let them next year. I even have, shockingly, confirmation from Delta folks that this issue was related to the Skymiles2015 program. Normally they NEVER give me that kind of info as the stock answer is “that is related to pricing and talking pricing we don’t do“! Why? Well talking about future pricing can get the government involved with what is going on right NOW in real time.

I also opened with the (joke) that “I need to stop reading View from the Wing!” I am kidding since Gary has a way of cutting through CORP speak and seeing the big picture. He said:

“It seems to me, though, that the worst crime here isn’t a ‘technical glitch’ — it’s that members trying to book awards are being presented with much higher prices than they should be. And there’s been no:

  • Warning posted on the website that prices that are too high are being quoted
  • Attempt or indication that Delta will refund the excess miles that are being charged to members
  • Commitment to waive the telephone booking fee for members ‘in the know’ enough to call.

Delta is now obviously aware of the glitch. They should post a notice prominently on their website. And they should waive the booking fee for members affected by their IT glitch. Any failure to do so either is very telling indeed.”

See why I need to stop reading his blog – now I am just angry! Gary of course is 100% spot on right. This situation is going to, IMO, rise to the level that the government gets involved soon as this has become a pricing issue. Delta is in effect saying the only way “we” [Delta] can fix this issue is for you to call and “trust us” that the phone reps will fix it. But what if a person just uses the web site and gets over charged vs. what is in print in black and white on Delta.com. Or, what if the phone rep did not get the memo and the customer is overcharged? Grrrrrr…. We could go on and on. My fellow BA blogger,   Chris Elliott  often talks about how you have to be an expert to get ANY value out of frequent flyer programs. In this case, you have to be “in the know” to not be overcharged. Maddening and just wrong!

I don’t know about this one folks, and need more time to look at the big picture but I REALLY don’t like what I am seeing and this little StopoverGate is, I think, just the first step in a long line of new “enhancements” on the way over the next few days/weeks/months!

Even though American Airlines has, for the next year or two, released a non-revenue based frequent flyer program with much less insanity than Delta’s, we need to understand the mothership does not care what the other airlines are doing or even if we leave Delta for good! – René

PS – Rookie Wednesday will be posted last today due to all this StopoverGate mess!

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What may be going on w/ latest Skymiles “enhancement” REG: stopovers & open jaw.

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UPDATE: SEE THIS POST FOR LATEST UPDATE FROM DELTA CORP!

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It looks like Delta’s latest Skymiles award issue I talked about yesterday has been 100% overshadowed by the 2015 AAdvantage program that seems a bunch less messy that Delta’s. I still don’t recommend switching, but I would also understand if you did given what AA now has published is next. It still makes my head explode when I was told by a Delta company rep that if people stop flying or go to AA Delta will just park jets and not fly them. That seems like such a great idea – a airline that parks jets? Maybe I just don’t understand the airline business; I thought jets only made money when up in the air. I guess they can make money parked too?

Anyway, there has begun to trickle out little bits of info where some folks are finding, in coach, some awards that will stick under the old system. I have yet to see a business class one that works and I have tested several more. Most are finding a brick wall and I saw one report, due to the rules not having changed yet on Delta.com, that reps were able to FORCE the current rules to work. If you have an issue I would press them to just GIVE you the extra points you need to book the seats since the rules are still in black and white on Delta.com the “best source for accurate Delta information” we are told over and over again. Always keep HUCB in mind as well.

So just what is going on here you ask? Since Delta has all but abandoned any real conversation on FlyerTalk and my new contacts are less than helpful nowadays, we are left often to just go with what we know are the facts on the ground and what our history with Delta is. My best guess, knowing how inept and bad Delta IT is when it comes to Skymiles awards, is some jr. level tech loaded something that was meant for Skymiles2015 and pushed LIVE or UPDATE rather than just stay on the test side of the servers. Once out it propagated, and we now have it in the system.

So will they switch it back? My guess is either yes they will as what is now LIVE does not jive with what the official language is on Delta.com. Or, they will just change the language on Delta.com. I think they will do the first part as they are not ready to publish the changes yet. But I think this change is on the way SOON!

If they do switch back you will want to book ALL you can under the old rules as soon as you can. I have some warnings with that however. I doubt you will be able to change any of these booked tickets without issues. I think Delta will honor the old price in miles for changes but you will have to fight to get those changes after the new rules come into place. So much of this is speculation but we can address that and what to do later on. At least expect  as a DM or PM to be able to redeposit free as usual worst case.

For now we will watch and see what happens. If this is a firm switch and we were just not told, it is one more reason to distrust rather than trust the Skymiles team at Delta! – René
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What the 250,000 AMEX->DELTA 2015 change tells us (reading between the lines).

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change to amex transfer

ICYMI or in other words, “in case you missed it” next year, that is as of 1JAN2015, you will only be able to transfer a total, from all kinds of AMEX cards, including cards like the non-Delta AMEX Platinum card as well as SPG cards a grand total of 250,000 per year to each Delta Skymiles account. However, we see no such restrictions on earnings from the CO-branded Delta Skymiles credit card as you can see in the expanded terms and conditions of the cards.

As a side note there is a workaround, sorta, that you can add an additional user to your AMEX membership rewards card and then send them points, that they can then send to THEIR Delta Skymiles account. The only major downside is you cannot combine Skymiles without HUGE cost (making it all but worthless) so if you do book some big trip using more than one Skymiles account you will be on separate itineraries or PNRs. There is no way for Delta to combine PNRs after they are issued and this can cause issues with perks etc. But I am off course now so back to the topic at hand.

We already know Delta is really cutting back on the number of Skymiles they will be awarding / printing under Skymiles2015. After all, to be able to provide more low level seats, as promised on the home page as well as on jets and everywhere else, they have to shrink the number of miles in circulation (that is their logic anyway – I have better ideas but they did not ask me).

I see this as just one more isolationist step. We saw last year the frankly shocking and still bewildering move to enforce ZERO MQMs/MQDs with Korean air tickets (a founding Skyteam member) unless they are code share tickets at most times much higher prices. We all know and can see for ourselves that Delta does not play nice in giving up award space with other partners like KLM/AF and others (one could say it is them not giving up the space but we all know it is a two way street).

So reading between the lines, what is next? The new “batch” of folks in shiny new positions at Delta all need to make their mark and show they too can wrangle more profit for the company. So expect more of this type of DAL centrist thinking. If there is anything that can be changed to yield higher net for DAL vs. a partner or other interest, think how this can be changed or cut. Like what? This can be hard and again don’t slam me for give our mothership ideas – I am sure they have talked about all of these (and many more).

  • Alaska. My fellow blogger Ben posted the other day about the fact that Alaska has fired back at Delta by matching up to their highest elite level. Impressive. What can Delta do to fire back? Well, do you really think they are going to allow you and me to get full Alaska point credit flying on Delta jets for much longer? After all, most say Alaska points are WAY more valuable than Skymiles. Why in the WORLD would Delta pay to subsidize you earning Alaska points on cheap tickets based on mileage? Expect a drastic cutback.
  • Club access. We have already seen the cut to 3rd party lounge access. Delta did upgrade the medallion access with GM+ getting Skyteam access when flying coach (and connecting or pre-departure). I bet this choice now results in much “wringing of hands” by the bean counters and will go away or be “enhanced” soon. I bet paying Skyteam members to let coach flyers into their lounges is costing the company way more than bargained for.
  • Food. While I don’t think Delta is going to cut the quality of the food they may adjust more when we get food and expand the sales choices maybe even to 1st class. After all, those in first are already paying big bucks why not get more from them from nice EATS choices? This would not only save a ton on catering costs, but the option to make more money from HVCs who like to spend already. Oh and keep in mind it is not like an upgraded medallion can use their HOOUs to buy a nonperishable treat anymore in 1st class!
  • Cleaning. It is not like Delta jets are all that clean now to begin with as I have blogged about before. I am just not sure on this one and it could swing the other way with all the Ebola fears and such. I am sure the contracts for cleaning are squeezed year after year.
  • Ground staff outsourcing If you fly in and out of DTW you have “enjoyed” the learning curve of outsourced ground staff this year. Long waits when arriving at the gate and more. If these changes are saving the company money, expect more of this at other airports. I like Delta people is all I will say on this!
  • GoGo prices. I expect GoGo prices to go up soon. They are still a relatively good value and there will be much cost to add GoGo to the international birds. The jump will not be much but expect 5-15% across the board.
  • Regional squeeze. You may not know it but regional ground folks are making 7-8 bucks an hour to start out, yes we are talking minium-ish wage! Sure they have some travel perks but at that kind of income, unless they are collecting millions of points like we do, they will not be able to afford even non-rev travel! The bottom line is I think regional service will get worse at these low wage prices.
  • MQD requirement for Million Miler’s. I am really shocked we have not seen this yet. I mean the wording has already changed from “lifetime” whatever status you are gifted to “annual” status. Delta does not care what you have done in the past to get them to profitability but only cares what you are spending NOW! It only makes financial sense to extract some money from MM’ers to keep their annual status.

Shifting gears I think there are a bunch of things Delta will NOT cut as they are part of their big marketing push and for now will keep paying out until it hurts too much. Like what?

Crossover Rewards. This was ground breaking in the airline industry to team up with a hotel chain in this kind of manner. I just cannot see Delta cutting this new deal for now. After all, a made-up award at the Freddie’s last year was all they won and I doubt they will win anything this year when it is hosted at Atlanta other than this same type award again! I mean the Delta credit cards perks have been CUT so no awards there and not seeing anyone voting for Skymiles2015 as an award winner (or what do you think)? Had Delta JUST added unlimited upgrades from domestic including Hawaii this could have been an award winner IMO.

Expanding IFE and Delta Studio for tablets. We all know IFE systems are heavy. Once GoGo is all over the fleet there will be less need for IFE in seat backs and almost everyone has their own devices nowadays. For now Delta is positioned both ways to offer seat back until the need becomes obsolete.

the delta promise more seats for less miles

I could go on an on with tech, maintenance and other bits that Delta either is moving in house or does very well at and makes money on but I think this covers the topic in detail enough. The bottom line is that the reduction of Skymiles transfer from AMEX each year is just part of the big picture. Sure it affects us the most but there will be other bits that go along with them and we should read between the lines to see that there is nothing that cannot and will not change to make a buck. I will personally end the year with well over 1 million Skymiles in my account as I am banking on Delta keeping the promise that more low level seats will be made available (not that I have much of an issue finding low level seats now but that is for another post). If Delta does not live up to this promise I think the combination of less rewards and mostly mid and high level redemption (or mostly low + big dollars add-on saying “see we said less miles”) will be the tipping point for most to say “we are done with Skymiles”! – 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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This week’s SWAG Saturday Platinum bar winner is.. #101 (is it you?)!

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platinum bar winner deltapoints-com

This was a fun week of comments. I will be keeping my non-Delta Platinum AMEX card and paying the fee because of all the perks this card gives me. BTW the , both the personal as well as the non-Delta Business Platinum AMEX card offers the same perks. Readers said their most popular perks were:

$200 annual airline credit
$100 Global entry fee plus free Pre Check
40,000 Bonus points
Centurion Lounge access including +1’s!
Skyclub access for you ONLY
No foreign transaction fees
Great purchase protection
Fine hotels perks (like meals / upgrades)
Free SPG gold status & room upgrades
Membership Rewards transfer partners
…and more!

To me, the card pays for itself with all the perks it gives me back and makes it a keeper. Keep in mind you can add more users for just $175 and they get Global entry fee credit also as well as club access. Another huge perk.

Now a congratulations to the winner of the 1 gram Platinum bar who was, via Random.org  #101  and that is  Benny.  I will e-mail you soon and get your prize on the way!

Be sure to check back later today as a $50 Amazon e-Gift card is up for grabs this week – René

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually.
  • To receive the statement credit, you need to select a qualifying airline.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your Platinum Card.
  • Platinum Card Concierge is your personal resource to help secure a last minute restaurant reservation, or shop for a hard-to-find gift.
  • Terms & restrictions apply.

applynow

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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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UBER coming to Nevada including Las Vegas – GREAT NEWS! (and needed)

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email uber nevada

Gosh I love UBER e-mail’s telling me places I so want to use UBER now will have UBER. During my recent BoardingArea BAcon14 conference I so wished we had UBER. We could have saved a TON of money around town and just the ability to call for an UBER anytime I want is the best. Now Las Vegas, of all places, is getting UBER (and the clouds part and singing starts)!

Be sure, as I have touched on before, if you want to use the cheaper UBERx at airports, to just move the little GPS pointer away from where you are and then text the driver where you really are (I normally go up to Departures as there are less issues being picked up there compared to Arrivals).

Anyway, I am beyond thrilled UBER is in Vegas and if you want $30 off your first ride you can use my UBER link to get it (we both get $30 credit towards a ride btw)! – René
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What we should FEAR most from Delta in 2015! Richard Anderson speaks!

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a-message-from-our-ceo

Photo from deltajobs.net

I spent a great deal of time at the recent Chicago Seminars defending why I love Delta. The answer was really simple and I have already outlined that in a post. The airline itself treats frequent flyers really well. Sure, they are decimating the frequent flyer program next year and that is on top of a frequent flyer program that is right now one of the hardest to get value out of. I do, but it takes a bunch of work.

But on to other things. Delta has PROVEN they are ready to cut till it hurts. To cut till some get fed up and leave. To only care and change when flyers say THAT’S IT WE ARE DONE! Delta only cares about $$$. We know all this right? So what jumped out and put panic into my bones was this (from Seeking Alpha’s transcript of the recent quarterly profit report):

“Then just from an ancillary revenue standpoint, it’s been great performance here, a lot of it coming from Economy upsale and things like that. As we look into 2015, what kind of items can we think of as driving ancillary revenue growth?” – Savi Syth – Raymond James

“I think that we have a lot of new initiatives which we’ll be talking about in the marketplace over the next two to three months, probably give you an update at Investor Day. But we’re extremely excited about being able to allow customers to really customize their travel experience on Delta.” – Richard Anderson – CEO

Shudder! OM Gosh! Oh, you don’t see it? Allow me to turn CEO speak into Skymiles “enhancement” speak.

  • “But we’re extremely excited”  =  We, Delta flyers, are going to have to pay a ton MORE for what we are NOT paying for now. Just what will that be? My fellow BA blogger MJ on Travel speculates that they will kill complementary medallion upgrades. Talk about a NIGHTMARE for business flyers. Have fun telling your boss you need to spend not just a little more than other airlines for your ticket but 2x or 4x more to get out of the lowest fare class “bucket”. I am sure that will go over very well as you discuss your next expense report!
  • “being able to allow customers”   =  We, Delta flyers, will have even more of our perks as medallions cut from us. What else could they cut? Oh, and btw, don’t think I am “giving Delta ideas” here as they are clearly already out to decimate everywhere they can. How about no more EC seats for Silver. Or, how about no more HOOUs on lower fare class tickets like E-Class (My guess is we will not get HOOUs on E-Class since they are non-upgradeable next year).
  • “customize their travel experience on Delta”  =  This is simple and works perfect with the first bit of the statement. Customize mean PAY MORE and for the travel experience means for what we now get for free. What could this be? You name it. I don’t think it will be silly things like “using the bathroom” but it could very well be things like carry on bag changes or boarding or even, yikes, earning MQMs or MQSs on cheap fare classes. This would really hurt so many business flyers but could be on the way.

How long are we going to have to wait to find out about these “new initiatives“? We were told “next two to three months” should be the first hammer to fall (keep in mind, he always has our back). After all, so much is on the way before the end of the year like the Delta Skyteam and partner award earnings charts and on and on.

Be VERY afraid my friends and unfortunately I do think we are going to see Delta “Keep Descending” until more flyers push back and say enough is enough! Happy Monday everyone? :-(  – René
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Why I love to blog, why I love what I do & why Delta really does ROCK!

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metal delta diamond medallion tag - Delta Points blog

“Rene, I want to thank you so much. Two years ago I didn’t even know there was such a thing as medallion status. I started following your blog religiously primarily because we live [in a delta hub city]. So I followed your advice and got a Amex Delta Reserve card as did my wife. When I spent $60,000 on her card she gifted me the MQMs. Also got the Platinum business card July of 2013 when they had a great sign up deal. So short story long I made Platinum Medallion last October and I gifted my wife Silver Status. I just made Diamond Medallion the other day.” – Jeff

The above email from Jeff just made my day/week/year. I was a Delta Platinum for a long time, but being Diamond is amazing if you fly a bunch. Delta really does take GREAT care of Diamonds. I have talked about the rules Delta may just break for you if the situation is right but for Diamonds rules almost don’t matter (plus Jeff, I think your wife is just the best btw for giving you her bonus MQMs)!

I spend a fair amount of time complaining about what is on the way with Skymiles2015. The main reason for this is not for what impact it will have on me, but for what impact I think it will have on most readers. I mean, if it was all about me, and many readers, I would be only yelling how great things are going to be. I mean, think how great it will be for “me” and those like me. There will be less medallions as so many business flyers are dumping Delta for AA and others. Great, more upgrades for me. In 2016 even MORE of the same. Can you say 100% upgrades on the way? Next I can, as the reader above, with so little effort MFG. 100,000 Skymiles for almost no cost other than a little time. I will be able to earn just as many MQMs from mileage runs as ever and there will be less competing for great routes. I could really go on all day long but again if it were all about me I would not be ranting the way I am; I really am a happy camper about most of the changes Delta is making (please no one tell MJ on Travel I said that or he will never let me live it down)! ;-)

Plus, another reason to be so happy about why I am proud readers are going for Delta and elite status with Delta is what we/they are getting for the effort. Just look what Delta offers a frequent flyer:

  • Unlimited upgrades. Delta really is great in offering EVERYONE who is an elite, even those who are SPG elites, at least a shot at an upgrade. If you know how to work it you have a decent shot at an upgrade. As a top level elite you can expect to ride in the pointy end of the jet most of the time (and if this is not you, work harder please).
  • On time. Delta is ridiculously on time. Sure they maybe pad the schedule, but to me that is just fine. Cancel a flight? HA never, they don’t know the meaning of the word!
  • GoGo WiFi. I still find it laughable on my only AA flight in years they e-mailed me to let me know there would be WiFi on the jet. Fly Delta, yeah you will get WiFi so don’t worry about it.
  • Consistent service. Readers like the above I am sure will back me up that the Delta people are the best. They are happy to see me. They work hard. They are kind. They get they are in the service industry and make me look forward to flying Delta (does your current airline treat you this way?)!
  • Comfortable seats. Delta spends a great deal of time and focus group time on their seats. Even their choice in slim line seats that most folks really hate is a good product on Delta jets. Granted coach is never great, but when stuck behind the curtain it works and that works for me.
  • Power! I have a cell phone (really, you have one too?). I have a laptop (gosh, you got one of those as well?). I have a tablet (no way you got a tablet of some make). Call me a power hungry user. You know what, fly Delta, expect to find power of some kind near to where you are. Me likeee!
  • IFE or in flight entertainment. Thanks to reliable GoGo some can enjoy Delta Studio. If not that, you should see how flat out gorgeous the Panasonic screens are on Delta jets!
  • Really good food. Want consistent, reliable and good tasting airline food (yeah it is find-able). then jump on a Delta jet. Ever had amazing grilled steak served cold with potato salad? I have on Delta jets and would PAY to get it at a restaurant. Yeah it is just THAT good!
  • IROPS or in English irregular operations and what they do when this happens to you. Stuff happens. If you get upset over weather, a broken jet, delays or other such things you need to stay home and watch TV as that is what happens in the real world when you fly. I never get ticked off when stuff like this happens. I just roll with it. But, as far as Delta goes – wow do they fix it when things go wonkie! Another airline to get you home – sure they can do that. Happy to let you pick our own route to get home, yeah they can do that. A hotel for top elites even when weather is the issue – yeah that happens too.
  • Sweet BE seats. Delta has really good BE seats. I love them all other than the herringbone that is just so-so but even so it works. If you are looking for a very good full flat business seat, with power, IFE, and great Delta service and food look to the BE seats on Delta jets.
  • Rollover MQMs. Is there any point in flying extra flights / miles on other airlines after you reach the top? No? I agree. With Delta we get to keep our extra elite points to next year (when MQD exempt or meet spend minimums). So, unlike my dear AMEX Reserve that after 60,000 in spend gives me ZERO incentive to keep spending until 1JAN each year, Delta gives me a reason to keep flying them rather than say going for elite status with another airline. That is both smart of my Delta and I like it too!
  • Good business program in Skybonus and hotel match-up with Crossover Rewards. Now I know other airlines have a business rewards program, but the Delta one just works. The chance to get SPG points, arguably the best hotel chain period, is a tremendous perk!
  • HOOU for drinks when no upgrade to 1st class! I do imbibe now and then. Oh, and did I mention my Delta happens to stock the most amazing bourbon on the planet – Woodford Reserve? Oh yeah, if I happen to be in coach (like 10% of the time so not that often) then I get a free coupon that I can turn in for a drink to make my “walk of shame” into coach a little more tolerable. Free drink – yeah that is nice!
  • Lowest elite gets to grab exits and chances for much more. While the lowest medallion level is not what it once was in the NWA days, if you are willing to work it Delta Silver status gets you a bunch of perks (if not a bunch of upgrades). I can tell you I really enjoyed my few weeks as a Silver and gamed it to a ton of 1st class upgrades! (ask me sometime if you really want to know).
  • Ever had your bag lost? Not so much on Delta (plus the APP tracks them). I cannot tell you the last time my bag was not, as a medallion, one of the first ones off the belt. I know there was one time in the past year one bag was late, but was delivered the next day by my local SBN folks. Just sayin’ it is rare DL messes up your bag.
  • Speaking of APPs, the Delta one is very good (just a little slow). From upgrade list to your flight to gate status to incoming flight and on and on the information is timely and updated often and works. Delta has made a good app!
  • Mostly ending CRJ (100/200s). There are still a bunch in the system of regional partners but Delta is really working hard to remove these gas guzzling torture tubes. I really like the CRJ 700/900s even in coach and the 717s that are coming from AirTran are very nice as well (just no IFE).

So there you are. This is the GOOD LIST of what you can expect if you pick Delta as your choice for 2015 like Jeff who e-mailed me above. Some things they can work on, but I will be hanging around to help them! We just need to make sure Delta stays on the path to #KeepClimbing and avoid #KeepDescending choices. – René

PS- Don’t forget I am giving away a GOLD BAR this week!

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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Skymiles 2015 – what you think you know, what the facts are & some year end Q&A

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sm2015

This is in some ways a rookie day, just not on Wednesday. The reason for this post today is that most rookie posts are just explaining some travel idea clearly. Most of what Skymiles2015 is is just not what people think it is.

I get the same questions over and over in e-mail and on twitter about the changes and about what will happen each “year end”. In fact, if you are reading this because I just sent you this link, just keep reading as somewhere in this post is the answer to your question. ;-)

  • Elite MQMs in 2015 will be based on dollars spent plus status, right? NO! Delta has done just a horrible job conveying this and I think if you asked 100 medallions in a blind test coming off a jet they will tell you what was just asked. If you want to see how elite MQMs will be earned next year, just look at ANY of your flights from this year because it is EXACTLY the same. In other words, there will be NO CHANGE at all next year. (Don’t shake your head at me thinking you know you saw it was changing, cuz you are wrong). The only thing that is changing is how we earn Skymiles, not elite points or MQMs.
  • With Vanilla reloads almost gone & Amazon Payments done, meeting MQD exempt spend will be really hard! NO! What everyone needs to understand is, like every year that has passed, what AMEX says is authorized charges is what is reported to Delta. Sure losing the ULTRA simple spend choices is disappointing, but it in no way makes it much harder. The only real change is it may, again may, cost you a few bucks now where the old way it was free or even simple to earn a few dollars along the way. THIS post talks about what works and will be re-tested next year as well.
  • Since my elite year ends on 1March (1FEB in 2016), I have till then to earn my status for 2015 or? NO. Your elite earning year is from 00:01JAN-23:59DEC scheduled departure time each year. Unless your flight is between those 365 days you will not earn any elite points (MQMs & MQSs) on the current year of flying.
  • If I earn Platinum medallion status by 1July2015 I will get to pick a Choice Benefit both next year and in 2016? NO. The important thing to keep in mind is you are not earning status for the current year, that is, you ARE earning for the next medallion year. So, in the case you mention you are earning your 2016 status as well as the choice benefits for 2016. You simply get to enjoy the perks of being a Platinum for the remaining months of 2015.
  • If I give my wife / +1 silver or gold medallion status do they have to worry about MQDs? NO – sorta. I say that because they don’t have to worry about spending even one dollar in MQD during the gift time period and enjoy the perks of being medallion. I say sorta because they will not rollover MQMs unless they also meet the requirements like the rest of us i.e. they get no rollover perks unless they EARN the status also.
  • Delta said we could book one-way award tickets in 2015. Why can I not book them now for 2015? Because they will not allow it until 1JAN2015. Oh, while we are on the topic, I get a TON of questions about PM & DM’s booking now for a one way they want next year, pick just “whatever” dates for the return, then at some point dumping the return and getting 50% of the miles back. That could work and should work but there will likely be some complications resulting in a HUCB situation. They may say you must cancel and “hope” they go back into inventory. I would tell the rep “I think I will just wait” and HUCB and get a rep to get you to the reissue desk and have them dump the return and reissue with ½ the miles!
  • I have so many miles, can I just sell them or sell tickets? NO. This is an extremely bad idea. While it is true you absolutely can giveaway free tickets to friends of yours, either traveling with you or without you, if you happen to have 50 “friends” all over the USA you will likely find your Skymiles account closed, the tickets voided (even if they are mid-flight) and a bunch of angry friends calling you from wherever in the world they are (now stranded and they will have to buy a one way ticket to come home btw)!
  • I see Delta has some 1st class seats on jets. I thought they only had business class. Oh, and is BE the business class seat? Delta has a great way of making simple things sound really hard. Delta has no 1st class seats; that is, Delta has no 1st class seats like other airlines 1st class seats (hello Lufthansa). Delta has domestic business class seats they labeled 1st class, but they are just a business class seat. They also have international business class seats. They label those BE or “business elite” seats. They are almost always full flat seats. There are times you will be able to fly a BE seat inside the USA if the jet is moving around or finishing a flight with a stop. Also be aware, for now, most of the BE jets don’t have GoGo so that is the trade off (one I will make ANY day btw).
  • You keep saying few will be better off under Skymiles2015. I have run my numbers and I will be much better off. Good for you! I bet, btw, if you are using the Delta calculator you are using the full ticket price and forgetting to take the tax off ;-) Beyond that, the only reason you are going to do better is because you are overpaying. I can make SO many more miles other ways at a fraction of your cost. So, if you are willing to give me $100 bills for $50 in return I will fly down and we can do that all day long (since you so love overpaying for things). Always know the only one who wins under Skymiles2015 is Delta.

These seem to be the most common questions I get about Skymiles2015, about year end, and maybe even daily Q&A from readers. Have other questions you have always wanted to know about Delta – ask away! – René

PS- Don’t forget I am giving away a GOLD BAR this week!

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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A visit to the HOM: What it is like at the HOM that is the House of Miles

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A visit to the HOM: My American experiAAnce – if you jump ship – what to expect!
A visit to the HOM: What it is like at the HOM that is the House of Miles
A visit to the HOM: My American experiAAnce – the return including a coach leg.
A visit to the HOM: AA Tech, compAArisons & final thoughts – should “we” switch?

the address for HOM COS

That sign is at the end of the road; the road that leads you to the legendary HOM or House Of Miles that is the address for Frequent Flyer Services that runs BoardingArea (BA), MilePoint and so much more!

outside the HOM COS

As I touched on before, for UBERx drivers this place can be a little hard to find and depending on where you are coming from can include a U-turn or two to get here. Anyway, I was really looking forward to this visit

entry to the HOM COS Delta Points blog

You see Randy makes available to all his “stable” of bloggers the chance to come and spend a day and have time with all of the HOM team and it is an impressive team of VERY talented people who know their stuff up one side and down the other.

Due to scheduling issues I had already had some PVT time with the head tech person pre-BAcon so my first stop at HOM was with the design and WordPress folks. These guys are good. They had looked at my blog up and down and had lots of suggestions to make it more user friendly and importantly more mobile friendly as they showed me that soon a full HALF of DeltaPoints readers would be on mobile and the blog needs to be responsive to those needs.

One of the assistants BA has is a top WordPress person. It turns out the best choice for the blog will be to build a brand new responsive theme from the ground up, but for now we use the basic stock one I have from DeltaMileageRun as it provides most of what I need.

welcome card to the HOM and inside flyer october issue delta points blog

Then a quick visit with some of the InsideFlyer magazine folks and some Q&A for an upcoming magazine piece. Always happy to share my Delta insights with InsideFlyer readers.

rene from Deltapoints working with randy and team at the HOM COS

Next was a working lunch. The main conference room is smack in the middle of the office and can be accessed from two sides. It was great to meet some of the BA team I had yet to get to know and to start to look to what they could do to help DeltaPoints and DeltaMileageRun grow and improve for readers. Great stuff.

After lunch it was a brief review of Social media and what I am doing right and wrong in reaching readers via “social”.

Next was the financial folks. Due to theme changes, we discussed how ads would be placed on the blog and what types and where (above my logo looked VERY bad so moved to right side etc.). Also a review of what is on the way with ads (we are adding some video ones but they will be MUTE unless you click on them).

Finally one on one time with Randy, the man himself. Randy really is a great guy and so cares for those who work for him as well as us bloggers who are proud to call BA home. I will not share what he and I talked about but it was JUST what I needed to hear.

So looking forward to my 4th year blogging and 2015 no matter what DL does we can roll with it and both blogs will be ready for the future. I cannot wait to see how things grow and what readers think about all the changes!

Next up my AA trip home. Was it anything like the outbound? I will be starting it in coach ;-) but more on that next week – René
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Why I am OVERJOYED with Delta’s 2016 Skymiles MQD increase!

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new marketing spin from delta

While I am a bit “peeved” that Delta could not come clean with the facts that the updates to the 2016 program that were leaked were in fact correct and accurate what I am just overjoyed about are the changes.

Now before you comment or tweet things like “you Delta sellout” or “how are you going to spin this” and so on hear me out why I am saying this and see if you don’t agree.

my delta amex reserve card delta points blog

I also get it can be hard to defend statements like I said yesterdaythis is REALLY great news. I say that because it could have been MUCH worse” but here is why and how it could have been MUCH MUCH worse. They did not:

  • Remove the chance to make Diamond by spending $25,000 on a Delta AMEX (plus MQMs/MQSs)! – This is a great perk. It is NOT hard to do for those who read the blog. I had mine done in two months last year and plan to get it done in the same time or less next year. You can too. Be happy Delta did not do a United flyer unFriendly move and make it so you can only make up to Platinum with spend exemption with the United card.
  • Increase the MQMs needed (or MQSs) – Delta could have jumped the MQMs by 20% too. To make Diamond they could have said 150,000 miles or 170 segments! They keep it just the same. Thank you Delta – truly!
  • Eliminate rollover MQMs – Many think this could still happen one day and I would NOT be shocked to have it happen. The good news is we have at least another year of it or will for sure know this by 1MARCH or before. So, adding MQMs next year for rollover should be AOK and since mileage runs are just as good next year as this year the fun goes on!
  • Change how MQMs are earned – Delta could have tied MQMs to $$$ spent. They did not or at least did not for now. They could have and may still do this. I am elated this has not happened (yet)!

Or any other number of bad things. Keep in mind folks what is on the way for us for now. It is very much like my fellow BA blogger and friend Brian from “The Gate” commented today:

“As long as Delta Air Lines either profits or saves money with these changes and does not hurt their bottom line with them, they will continue to implement additional changes which may be considered not friendly.” – Brian The Gate

I agree 100%! We should expect Delta to “Keep Descending” and cut cut cut. But as long as we can still, with very little effort, enjoy the perks with Delta doing the work to “thin the herd” for us I am just thrilled and you should be too! I mean the value of the  Delta AMEX cards  just keeps going up and MQD exempt spending will be a MUST for even more each year. – 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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“Keep Descending” a new Delta award – A yearly / monthly / daily prize!

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Keep Descending award

Delta has a “Chairman’s Award” that recognizes the “Best of the Best” of Delta. The people that go beyond the job and show unparalleled dedication to the airline. They exemplify the Delta slogan “Keep Climbing“!

Well, there are many choices made by Delta people each day that deserve another award. Maybe the “busted chair” award? Either way, the choices on this list are all worthy of the slogan “Keep Descending” that is, the lower the better!

I am going to revisit this award from time to time as I have no problem calling Delta out when they do things busted chair worthy. Let’s take a look back at this year starting with the most recent “Keep Descending” moment!

1) The end of RTW (Round the World) Award tickets – One of the great values of Skymiles! I know many readers have had Adam book RTW tickets for them. It does take a long time to get done, but there is real value to redeeming your Skymiles this way – not much longer!

2) JFK-SFO/LAX/SEA medallion upgrade mess – Please keep in mind, officially, the upgrades don’t exist and have been eliminated by Delta. Yes, we do know that when they feel like it, Diamond and Platinums can maybe get an upgrade or on the upgrade list. Just don’t look for any of this in black and white on Delta.com

3) Playing with prices – One would think that a company as big as Delta could fix the simple things like pricing. They after all PUSH us to book ONLY at Delta.com. OK, make it work and we will. Maybe asking for too much.

4) $29+1 for  $kyGrub – The choice to dump your +1 for meager bits of “food”! This took everyone, even AMEX with free +1 with the Delta Reserve card, by TOTAL surprise. I have been told by Delta folks that ALL choices from now on must be revenue net=neutral that is upgrades need to either not cost the company any money or make the company money. I am sure the Skyclub changes are making the company a TON of money!

5) HOOU devaluation – no more snacks! This one just makes me so mad as well as those who do not drink alcohol. Once again, I am sure giving away a few snacks was just costing the company too much money.

6) Mostly eliminating meal vouchers – I just don’t get this one; it is not like Delta was handing out tons of “money” with these. Many times they were only for a few bucks but enough to let you grab something from the food court. Now you have to go beg a redcoat and remind them that they DO have the power to print them if they want to.

7) No medallion upgrades for E-Class fares – Yep starting next year be careful you don’t end up with a fare that will result in you 100% guarantied to be sitting in coach. Txs Delta!

8) Higher MQD spend to earn your status – As we saw from yesterday, you will have to spend much more money with Delta to keep or earn your status. Give us more-more-more!

9) Skymiles2015 – destruction of loyalty! Gosh it is going to get ugly next year. I think the outrage will be huge. We will see. Just know Delta is not done cutting yet and without real push back from flyers much more decimation will be on the way!

And that is just for this year, so far. We could go back and look at other award worthy moves like the T-72 rule, Delta Diemiles(r), SDC 1,2,3&4, Skymiles devaluations, Consolidator fares and on and on.

broken trophey

Each time Atlanta’s hometown airline descends again I will be sure to tweet or post and add to the list. I just wish we could give out an actual trophy for those responsible at Delta to keep on their desk for others to appreciate and recognize the  hard work  it takes each day to “Keep Descending” and “Strive-ing for ZERO” (rather than Strive for Five)! – 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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BASIC Delta Economy tickets – AVOID at all costs (the scary details are out)!

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basic economy delta fare class

What is this you say? First off, you can look at THIS link to see the list of Delta fare classes. Sorta included in this for some routes is a version of the E-class called BASIC Economy. What is that? I have made up a simple chart for you to help understand at a glance what BASIC stands for:

basic delta seats on the way

Now you get the idea. The link to Delta.com is HERE if you wish to read about the restrictions our mothership is imposing on this ultra discounted “el-Cheap-O” fare class.

delta-com talking about basic economy seats

Funny to put a 1st class ad here ;-)

Now I have no real problem with Delta charging a Spirit / Ryan Air low price for a ticket, but it is a shame they are going to impose Spirit / Ryan Air type rules on even loyal medallion flyers. I mean:

  • No upgrades
  • No good coach seats or EC
  • No SDC SDS

At least it appears Delta is allowing for medallion boarding even on this fare class and if you have a Delta GOLD AMEX card with priority boarding or the other Delta cards you can still board before ALL the overhead space is gone!

The REAL warning goes out to those who use travel agents or possibly in-house booking people. There is risk you could be assigned a BASIC fare class and be stuck with these restrictions and not know it till it is too late!

Also another thing to keep in mind is you are going to be the lowest on the list if a flight is oversold. Always know Delta can and does refuse to allow a passenger to fly if there are not enough seats. The have the right to do this and a paid ticket does not guarantee you will fly. It is unlikely a medallion would be the one picked, but know it is possible however remote.

Before I get a flood of comments below, I know some only care about price. That is after all the point of this fare. Plus with Skymiles2015 most of these kinds of passengers are not going to get enough Skymiles ever to buy a ticket anyway even paying a little more. I get that. But for me, paying $5-25 more per round trip to NOT have these restrictions will be a must. I just wish I did not have to as a medallion! – 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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Delta Round The World Skymiles Awards to end 1JAN2015? Another “stealth” devaluation?!

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the end of delta round the world tickets

What you are seeing above, if not more than just a pause or IT issue due to the cursed Skymiles2015 on the way, would be yet another MAJOR devaluation to the Skymiles program and yet one more in a long string of unannounced cuts to the program from Delta!

delta airlines round the world skymiles chart 180000 on sale for 162000

I reached out to Delta a while back that the above Skymiles award chart for RTW tickets was missing on Delta.com when you click on THIS link (as it still is). You can however look at the “way back machine” from last August of 2013 to see what was there. I was told by a company rep there were, at the time I asked (20AUG2014), no changes that had happened to the program. That may not have been correct. We shall see and I will update this post when I have more info!

This is still developing and I have a query in to Delta about this. If RTW tickets are truly going away after 1JAN2015 we had better get to booking and calling the round the world desk SOON! – René
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