Via Google Chrome that has translated the below text about this Skyteam jet clearly should have held short. Hard to tell just how near a miss this was but the report says:

This Saturday the Barcelona El Prat airport could have been the scene of a catastrophic accident. In the incident two aircraft, one of the company UTair, from Moscow, which was about to land, and the other Aerolineas Argentinas, which crossed the track to take her off to Buenos Aires were involved. The pilot of the aircraft came from the Russian capital had to improvise a maneuver to avoid a catastrophe. –

I don’t know about you but that looks REAL close to me! Fly safe everyone on your way back home today! – René

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I really respect airline people and ex-airline people like my friend and fellow BA blogger MJ on Travel. Again the people, NOT the machine behind our travel. The people (most of them anyway) are human and have fellow feeling toward you; the airline/security/et al often does not and why should it anyway?

I will again this year far exceed 100 segments, that is I will be in an airplane with some kind of paint on the outside (most of it Delta-ish) that goes up and down. I think in most books that qualifies me as a frequent flyer.

Having said that I dislike the TSA. Now to be clear not for what you may think. I do THANK the TSA folks for keeping us safe each time I fly. I understand they find a TERRIFYING number of guns (and worse) each year. The nightmares they find are so, IMO, under reported and I give them credit for what they do. So I really am a supporter not a basher of the TSA – mostly!

But why mostly. Let’s go back to MJ on Travel and this post about his recent TSA experience. I have flown with MJ a time or two and he really is a true gentleman in every sense of the word with everyone he meets. If you meet MJ you will like MJ – it’s that simple. But he can NOT do the TSA scanners.

pro vision scanner

What about me. I get they are no longer the full “Nude – O Scopes” of the past (ie only a rep in a room far away sees you “nude”) plus the “new ones” all use “harmless” radio waves but it still bugs me what they do and show. I also don’t need MORE rays hitting my body. Yes, I also understand you get more rays up in the air blah blah blah, but I just don’t want more of any of that if I don’t have to! Then there are those who are or even could be with child – IMO – no thank you. Then, like MJ, those with medical devices that could possibly be damaged or cause an issue.

rene deltapoints-com blog passport goes id and dl

So far most of this post is just stating the obvious and is maybe not all that helpful. Time to be helpful. I have Global Entry and TSA Pre check. I will ALWAYS have both. I cannot even think about flying without them. For $20 per year this is the best value in the air. Even if I don’t fly for a year or two I will pay this to keep it forever. This in addition to being Delta’s highest rank elite flyer Diamond Medallion.

I have all this so I don’t have to be scanned. I always choose to opt out when not selected for TSA Pre check for whatever reason. I don’t like the “man massage” I get and find the work around my “sensitive areas” to be very unpleasant and bordering on wrong. Now if I were NOT GOES & TSA PRE Check (plus a Diamond Medallion) I can see the need for this enhanced screening. How about a fix for this?

If the metal detector is working, even if I opt out or “it” selects me for enhanced screening, if I can produce my trusted traveler info and have TSA Pre Check on my boarding pass, show I am an airline elite, then IMO no need for the “man massage”. How about we wipe my hands and luggage with the bomb sniffing machine first. If that is 100% clear send me on my way. If that goes off, ok massage me then.

Delta Air Lines 737-900ER photos delta points travel blog (68)

Clearly I am NOT a threat to anyone (other than requesting the occasional geek photo in the cockpit that is). The only threat I am is to the supply of Woodford on-board the flight. There has to be a way to add a step to avoid pat downs for those who do not need them.

What do you think – should all with TSA Pre Check always “opt out” if not selected for pre check? Is there a tech way or a human way to remove the need for enhanced screenings or due to all the stuff going on around the world I am being too picky and should “man up” and take it if I choose to avoid the full body scanners? – René

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reminders string on finger

I have to admit it – I am guilty of putting things off. I am especially bad when it comes to paperwork. My desk is often a cluttered mess. You know the old joke I used to defend this bad process? No, well here it is:

Guy walks in to visit his lawyer and sees the desk covered in papers and sternly says to his advocate:

You know sir, a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind!

Then the lawyer gets a smirk on his face, smiles, and looks back at the client and simply says:

Yes, but what then is an empty desk?

But in all seriousness, there are a bunch of things you need to do and the reason you have a “string on your finger” to remind you about. Here are some you should think about doing right now as they don’t take long to get out of the way (& I promise to clean up my desk while you do).

1) Freeze your ARS & IDA. US Bank is a strange animal. We all want EZ approvals. If you do not take the steps to freeze your ARS & IDA you will get many less approvals or at least many less without much more work. Just do this!

2) Getting an EIN number. If you are planning on going for any  “business credit cards”  having an EIN, if nothing more than for banking reasons, is a smart move.

3) Update all your info at “My Delta”. From your trusted traveler, your Delta Reserve AMEX  “Airline Travel Card” number and so much more please take the time to make sure all the pages at Delta are current, complete, correct and up to date.

4) CrossoverRewards & Skybonus. The horrid train wreck that is Skymiles2015 is on the way. 96% of us are going to earn MUCH less (unless they smarten up and fix things). So, it is your own fault if you don’t sign up for CrossoverRewards and enjoy those extra perks (if you qualify) and the same goes for Skybonus if you have a business and spend at least $5000 per year total for you and your employees who will be on YOUR Skybonus account.

5) Check your credit report (no charge, not an affiliate link). I know, I know it is such a pain. Just do this. Do me a favor right now. Just put a reoccurring reminder every 4 months in your phone to ping you to check one of the 3 every 4 months. Takes like 5 minuets of your life to download and check and read over the report and maybe see something that could change your life that is if someone is applying for credit or such using your info. Even if just something small is wrong it could affect your ability to get points cards every 91+ days or so.

6) Get a KLM Flying Blue account / number. Go now and sign up for a free account. I just always do this and not just for Delta. If I am already on a business class or higher award ticket, why not put in a partner frequent flyer’s number into the account. There are many times I get FB credit when flying a Delta business class award ticket. Same goes for other airlines. Just find a program you like and input that number for that trip before or when you check in.

7) Sign up for Twitter. You may say I don’t tweet. Sigh, you should and just do it. If for no other reason than for @DeltaAssist when you need it. You will thank me when you need it and they are there to help. Same goes for other Skyteam partners KLM & AF. Their twitter support, as of late, really is very good. You are only hurting YOU if you don’t do this. Oh and follow DeltaPoints and DeltaMileageRun when you are opening the new account!

8) Sign up for DeltaPoints via e-mail once a day. There are almost 6,000 who get the once a day e-mail of the latest blog posts. I mean you should check the blog a few times a day as there are often deals that are dead by the time the e-mail goes out the next day but at least you can catch up on what you missed if you are an e-mail subscriber!

9) Call and request the free Chip-N-Signature Delta AMEX “Airline Travel card“. I have it for both of my Delta AMEX Reserve cards. They do work in both domestic and international card readers and will just spit out a receipt for you to sign. Now on automated machines you still can need a PIN code but there is no charge for this and it is smart to upgrade (I see no reason not to)!

10) Download the Delta Fly APP. They have the APP for all the major platforms and if you are not using it you are missing out. They keep updating it and it is slowly getting better and better. It is even a little fast booting for those of us who have maybe a dozen or more booked itineraries.

So there you are. I know this is a long list. I am sure NO ONE who reads Delta Points has to do all 10 of them anyway (if you do, shame on you)! So please take the time to make sure you are good to go on all of them. Have all these done, give yourself a kudos and shout out in the comments. Heck, why not shame yourself and tell us how many you still have to do :-) – René

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NYC free

I have been waiting to post about the news that Delta has, due to competition from a superior product (Mint or AA), backpedaled on something I have blogged about HERE and HERE and HERE and a bunch more. The idea that flyers will pay more for Delta’s product when they can connect and have an upgrade chance or fly another airline was ridiculous. Delta’s move shows they are scared of mass defection of top HVCs! And if I lived or wanted to get to NYC direct transcon from LAX/SFO/SEA I would be either on another airline or connecting via ATL (at least under the current Skymiles as it is worth it).

So why did I wait to post about this news? I had some follow up questions to the new Skymiles rep but was told the same stock answer all the other bloggers have received, that is basically this is a test, it is when they feel like it, and don’t bank on this being official any time soon. Nothing more could be shared for now. What a way to implement a major policy; I am sure it makes you swell with trust in Delta Air Lines! I wanted to know:

  • Just how these upgrades will be processed.
  • How will it work with the Delta APP.
  • Will the DM & PM line be able to put these requests in.
  • When will it show up on in print.

After that I now also would also like to know what about SWU (old ones) and if now, since this IS again an upgradeable route, can we use Regional Upgrade certs as burning a Global Upgrade is to me the same as setting it on fire. Lastly how much of this choice for upgrade is computer driven and what is human driven; along with that, is it based on some REV MGT. equation? I could go on and on but I doubt we are going to hear more about this as they test this mess out.

The “facts” seem to be DM & PM can request this upgrade 6 hrs before flight. Skyclub requests work. The rest of the ways should work but again we have no real direction as this is not really official as you will not find it on, the real source for accurate Delta medallion information.

Don’t get me wrong, this is going in the right direction. The choice to not allow upgrades for ANY medallions is just ridiculous. Offering it only to DM & PM is fine as I doubt very many GM or FOs have a shot at these slots anyway due to the medallion heavy loads on these routes.

The only thing this shows me, and that we can all hope for, is that once Skymiles2015 hits flyers in the face, Delta will be smart enough to backpedal the same way and fast! – René

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photo of e-cigarette use

I am the worst kind of anti-smoke person as I am an ex-pack-and-a-half a day smoker; I really hate cigarette smoke. Smelling it gives me an instant headache that lasts all day long and I quit over 25 years ago. Even sitting next to someone who just smoked is enough to cause me pain. So take this post from that viewpoint, that is from one who would be happy to never ever see a tobacco product ever again smoked by a living human.

deltaassist e-cig tweet 1

Enter a tweet from follower Christopher to me and to Delta Assist both telling about a passenger who “smoked” (it is not fire but vaping) an e-cigarette on a Delta Jet the other day.

deltaassist e-cig tweet 2

And then, reading from this multi-part tweets, we see Delta Assist stating Delta’s stand that e-Cigs are not OK on Delta jets.

you can not use e-cigs on delta jets per sky magazine june 2014

And if you look in the back of any of this years Sky magazines you will also see that Delta states that cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, as well as e-Cigs are not allowed on Delta jets (I cannot find any updated info yet on

Supporters of vaping strongly feel the vapor from their nicotine delivery devices has no ill effect on others. The science on this is yet to be proven and clearly being in the anti-smoking camp I am happy to err on the side of ban till we know. I’m not willing to accept the manufacturers’ marketing claims that these products are not harmful to others.

I also get the additional info Delta Assist shared, that is it could confuse people to allow these kinds of e-cigs and perhaps someone may think it is a real cigarette and decide to blaze up as well.

What do you think readers? Do you have a stand pro or con for these new e-Cigs? Do you feel they should be allowed in public places or say in an airport or on a Delta jet? – René

PS – Don’t forget SWAG Saturday is live for a shot at a $54 AMAZON gift card this week!


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mfg back in the day

Last week I blogged about the shutdown of using Vanilla One cards to load your Bluebird cards at Walmart. This resulted in a TON of panicked emails. Some of them were something like this:

  • I have thousands in AMEX gift cards what do I do?
  • I have tons of Vanilla One gift cards what do I do?
  • Will Walmart shut down all loading from VDGCs next?

First off, as recently as this Sunday, I have confirmation from a reader that a US Bank VDGCs from Kroger worked just fine loading in. I have no more room to load anything to my or Lisa’s Bluebird so I can test nothing for a while but readers are a great source for data.

So what if you are holding a bunch of AMEX gift cards? Look for MetaBank or other ones but if you are worried test small i.e. say with just one $500 card.

If you are “stuck” with a bunch of VO VDGCs what can you do? First off, these are not worthless; you just spend them. Just pay bills like a normal credit card etc. If you feel you MUST unload them readers are telling me you can buy US Bank VDGCs at Kroger with the VO gift cards but again not the best choice.

Then on to the last one, what if Walmart shuts this down. Do know officially they don’t allow gift cards but we know they work. They could do as many of the Vanilla reload sales places do and just impose the rules and send out a memo and then it would be mostly game over (other than the Money Center Machines one would think). So,making sure you never hold more AMEX gift cards or VDGCs than you can live with spending in other ways is key. I tend to be conservative this way as I never take on more than I can be stuck with.

Always expect things to get harder but as they do, we will do what we can to always find another way! – René

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book blank pages

Medallions and other Delta high value customers as well as Delta CO-branded American Express “airline travel cards” all come with a lengthy list of published benefits. Last week I talked about million milers and how they sometimes are more appreciated by Delta than other flyers. However there is an equally long list of unpublished benefits, perks and advantages Delta occasionally or fairly regularly extends to flyers that will not appear on or anywhere else (well, other than on DeltaPoints)!

Like what? There are a bunch, but here are a few:

  • Better access to low level award seats
  • Porsche rides gate to gate
  • Preferred baggage handling & trip tracking
  • Waived fees
  • Hotel vouchers
  • Food vouchers
  • Soft landings for medallion status
  • Medallion status itself
  • Even more hush hush perks

Many of these perks are sometimes extended to Diamond medallion or Delta 360 flyers that is those who the airline views as the most valuable customers and biggest dollar spenders with Delta. Others just have to be asked for and they will sometimes happily help or other times begrudgingly assist.

Better access to low level award seats is one of the many reasons I keep my Delta AMEX Reserve card “airline travel card” . I have yet to get the coveted Porsche ride between gates but I tend to book long layovers to enjoy Skyclubs (and other much better clubs) along the way. We all know Skyteam elite+’s bags get special handling, but there is even more beyond that as well as someone monitoring your trip (in case of issues to proactively fix them). Stuck at the airport – nope – you get a hotel voucher as well as food from Delta. Miss your medallion level by a a few (or a bunch) of MQMs? To me, it is amazing that you can spend enough with Delta or a Delta AMEX and you will keep your status or flat out have a nice status level gifted to you by the airline.

Now I know you are thinking and want to ask me what you have to do to get these perks yourself and what are the requirements; did I mention these are unpublished perks so the airline is very reluctant to even acknowledge they happen let alone tell lowly ME what is needed to get something that they don’t talk about happening (thus the graphic I chose above ;-) )!

Some of the reasons these are not published perks is that they are not always extended to HVC’s. But all of these do happen and sometimes quite often. Have you had some unexpected perks extended to you? – René

PS – Don’t forget SWAG Saturday is live for a shot at a $54 AMAZON gift card this week!


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minute-suites web page

I hate tight connections. I mean I loath them. When I happen to get a schedule change that moves me from say 2 hours down to 45 minutes I start to sweat. A little less so on Delta as I have to say of all the airlines Delta has been outstanding to me on being on time or making up time. Sure, I get that Delta is padding their schedules more than other airlines, but who cares, I say it makes the connections work. Fine by me.

One of the reasons I really dislike a tight connection is that it does not give me down time to enjoy the airport. Er, what, enjoy an airport? Have you lost your mind? Well, that is another topic for discussion but airports, if you are not just running from gate to gate, are great. Airport lounges, that you can get into free with cards like the American Express Membership Rewards “Airline Travel Card” or even a few times a year in the “The Club at ATL” with Chase INK cards that is “business credit card“. If you have enough time you can enjoy these kinds of breaks between flights. Have a long break, even take a refreshing shower all free as well as wifi and areas to work and plug in all your toys for a recharge.

But what if you are not smart enough to have access. Is it a good idea to rent a tiny room for $34/hr to get some work done in quiet or take a nap? MiniSuites says on their website:

“We are pleased to offer our passengers high-quality, convenient services like Minutes Suites,” said John Cugasi, director of Concessions. “Minute Suites gives our passengers an affordable, private retreat within the terminal to nap, relax or work.”

I agree getting away from the masses to a private retreat to nap, relax or work is good. Now as to affordable, I am not sure $34 per hour fits into my frugal travel plans as well. I mean, even Delta with their ridiculously over inflated new $29 per visit if you have the Delta GOLD or PLATINUM AMEX “Airline Travel Cards” is a better value than this. No you don’t get complete privacy, but for the cost I see more value.

Maybe I am just missing something here. You tell me, would it be worth it to you to rent one of these rooms for an hour or two on your trip? – René

PS – Don’t forget SWAG Saturday is live for a shot at a $54 AMAZON gift card this week!


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uber 30 credit

UBER has had a $25 Delta Air Lines offer code that has been the best one out for awhile. Now, they have extended a $30 bonus offer for 1st time riders.

This is on top of the $250 one you can get in Chicago, Atlanta & Nashville for getting a Lyft driver to try driving for UBER instead.

As these two, as well as other ride-share services duke it out, we can enjoy the perks and credits! Have a great weekend everyone! – René

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one vanilla visa

The bad news is, a while back, Vanilla Reloads that cost just $3.95 each for a $500 card were shut down for purchase with Credit Cards at CVS. No problem, we switch to Vanilla Visa Debit Gift cards. They cost $1 buck more, that is $4.95.

metabank visa debit gift cards

Now, with confirmation all over the web, those have been shut down at Walmart as well. OH NO – PANIC? Not really. You see the MetaBank Visa Debit Gift cards that cost, say it with me, $1 buck more, that is $5.95, work just fine and I tested two just a few minutes ago at the Money Center Machine at Walmart.

So, we are now up to a whopping $59.50 to fully load BlueBird to $5,000 for a month or 1.2% cost. Well if you are earning from say BeFrugal the current low 2.5% plus points buying AMEX gift cards, and then use those to buy these gift cards, you are still coming out almost 1.3% ahead plus the points you earn on top of that. I can live with those numbers and know the higher 3-4% rebate deals will likely be back soon! – René

EDIT: Twitter follower WES reports that he TODAY did VDGCs from USBANK so those should be good to go too!

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