ALERT: Free Delta changes due to Rome, Italy (FCO) Airport fire 8MAY-18MAY, 2015

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rome airport fire free delta changes

Just a heads up as I am sure most of us have seen the news about the severe fire at Terminal 3 at Rome’s airport a few days back (FCO).

  • Rome airport in chaos after fire devastates terminal – HERE
  • Rome airport reopens terminal after fire – HERE

Due to this Delta is offering a one time FREE change that is a fee free change due to the fact that you will likely be impacted if your travel includes FCO in your itinerary.

Some things to keep in mind. If you are on an award ticket, and not on Delta metal, low level space must still exist to change, that is, Delta cannot force space on partner metal but you can change and they can force space on Delta metal. This could be bad or good for you depending on your route. Just check for the BEST route for you before you call.

Have any questions about this or the mighty schedule change rule(E8), ask away! – René
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Maybe some good news, Delta food vouchers are coming back?

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bump meal voucher issued by redcoat delta airlines3

I have not confirmed this information with the mothership yet but I trust my source and it is frankly about time. I think it has been shameful of Delta, even with an overnight issue or a VERY long layover, that they have all but refused to give anyone a simple food voucher when an issue is Delta’s fault or you take a bump and help them out.

After all in Europe there are FIRM rules as to when an airline must offer you food etc. but here we are at the mercy of the airlines.

The information I have on this so far is this:

  • They are coming back in the next few months
  • They are increasing to $15 by default
  • They are back due to complaints from reps not flyers
  • The savings by not paying them has been $30 million

I would love to see this change made really right. For example, many times vendors at smaller stations do not like them or are closed. The simple fix is a “Visa” type cert that can be spent just about anywhere and they have done this type of cert in the past. We will see.

Going off topic a bit here I would love to see some kind of EU 261 type rules in the USA as well. If an airline is going to charge us for everything we ever do to a reservation or change etc. then if they fall short they should be on the hook to take care of a traveler, but I guess that is for another post!

For now, if confirmed, at least we get one tiny cut back and can say thank you Delta reps for complaining on our behalf! – René
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What Delta SHOULD do to improve SkyMiles (but don’t hold your breath).

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delta jet and tails in DTW detroit airport delta points blog

I am by nature a really positive person. My glass is always half full if you will. I fly and travel enough that just about nothing “really” upsets me anymore that is regarding delays, seat issues etc. etc.. I know it will all work out in the end.

When it comes to $kyRubles I do not expect good things this year. However, should Delta want to make some positive changes these would be the ones I think would really make loyal flyers happy and want to keep flying Delta. It is a long list and I will be happy if ANY of them happen really. See what you think and if you agree.

Stop cutting. I know it is sad that the very first thing on the list is not a new thing but just a request to not make things worse than they already are. So please, Delta, stop enhancing. We are at 999 of the “Death by 1000 cuts”. Am I right or am I right?

Stop raising benchmarks. MDQs are bad enough. Stop bumping them up year after year. $3k-15k MQD is enough. Then again, I guess we are foolish for even worrying about MQDs.

Stop devaluating elite perks. See a theme here? Just stop Delta. Stop removing perks for Platinums like JFK upgrades. Gold & Silvers are tired of being your whipping boy. Just stop cutting. PLEASE!

Bring back what has been cut. Here is an exciting idea – give us something back. How about SDC and allow changes NOT requiring similar fare class. I think most business flyers would love to be back home with their loved ones a few hours sooner if there is an open seat in the same cabin of service (we all should know 1st class HAS changed back and is no longer fare class restricted).

Bring back the award charts. Sure I know they are on the blog (heck, even Delta told me they are NOT hidden since they are on MY blog). But it would just be so nice to see them on Delta.com. I mean, seriously, this alone would be an enhancement worth yelling about.

Offer Global Upgrade certs to Platinum Medallions. Other readers have so many times already commented about this. There is just no reason not to offer two GU certs as a choice to a PM flyer. Oh, while we are at it, allow DMs to pick RU certs as both their PM & DM choice should they so wish. Choice is good after all

Offer Platinum Medallion gift as a Diamond Medallion choice. Heck, even make it so if you pick this you DO NOT get a second choice? Gold Medallion is not worth what it once was so time to step up this choice. Agree?

Fix award page. I know this is a pipe dream and all but impossible, but gosh it would be nice to have a working award page rather than a hopelessly broken one. I would be BEYOND thrilled if Delta just brought back the old one that DID WORK after all. Once again, just bring back the old would again be an upgrade.

Improved REV based multiplier. We are getting a pittance. Delta should upgrade the multipliers. How about 9x, 10x, 15x & 20x for Silver, Gold, Platinum & Diamonds (ok so maybe 5x is OK for non-Medallions). Those would be nice numbers that would make me feel loyal to Delta.

I think I need to stop. I may be getting just silly and we all know none of these are going to happen as they would after all be “real” enhancements but it is fun to dream. I just hope we get one of these tossed in as a “bone” when all the other changes hit us along the way – René
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What I fear most from Delta – What will be the next wave of “enhancements” or devaluations.

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fear

What is the next worst “enhancement” you can dream of that Delta will impose on us? I mean, what one thing would make you yell, scream and question continuing loyalty to Delta? Maybe you are like me and have already had that moment (mine was the end of stopovers on awards).

Before you answer and get your brain matter going, please don’t say anything like:

“Rene, please don’t give the mothership any ideas – geezzzz”

Because, as I have said before, I am sure anything you or I could think about has already been discussed and considered and the numbers have been run. The current team, I am confident, will be making more cuts and more profits from SkyMiles for Delta. Everything must make them money including loyalty.

In case you missed it, my fellow blogger Brian learned at the Freddie awards that Delta people would have been disappointed to win anything as their goal is not to reward loyal flyers, but earn more from SkyMiles. In fact I had one Delta person all but deride me for not being happy to pay 2x for a ticket when it should cost just one (or that is at least what the hidden Delta award charts say). Really, I was so stunned I could not coherently respond.

What we all need to understand is these are crazy times. Things are what they are and we need to look out for no one but ourselves. To and from Europe, when things go wrong, we can reach out to folks like  AIRHELP   for assistance with delayed flights and more. Not so much here.

Also we need to know the new crop of SkyMiles people are trying to one-up those who were in their jobs before them and they come from “bean counter” backgrounds, NOT loyalty programs (that should fill you with fear – it does me). They care about showing they also, like the last group, can hack and slash perks and get max profits from us and give us “trinkets and beads” and hope we are happy with these “gifts” from the mothership. Yep, whenever you look at the $kyRubles program you need to think like they do, that is, how do we extract more and give away less. Think anything money that will add to the bottom line and boost profits and that could be next.

So now we know what to expect, that is, pain, cuts, fees and “enhancements” that we know are #KeepDescending events on deck next. What do I think could be next?

Rollover MQMs. I can see this ending. Please understand this, along with the rest we will be talking about, are really dumb and stupid ideas that will cause more to depart Delta for other airlines, but that is not what is important – what matters is more dollars and nothing else. So why end this very popular perk? There are too many Diamonds. If Delta goes all REV based for MQMs they will drop even more. But first cutting rollover will “thin the herd” and keep some big spenders happy.

Cheaper upgrade sales. Oh, you and I both know this is on the way. Why in the world would Delta “give away” a 1st class upgrade to a loyal medallion when they can sell an el’Cheap’O upgrade to a Silver for a few bucks. For now, this is not the norm, but it will happen. Trust me, there are only so many other things they can do to extract funds from flyers. I have see more and more seats going this way either at purchase or at check-in.

Restrictions on Global upgrade and Regional upgrade certs. I have been told there was a real FIGHT to get the perk at all (even though half as many as AA offers). For those of you new to $kyRubles, in the past, we had SWU or system wide upgrades. They were worthless for many. Why? You had to pay a HIGH fare class to use them (especially for international use). Unless you had an employer who was willing to pay for higher fare class coach seats, often as much as a discounted business class, but your company rules did not allow business class eats, then these SWU were nice. I fully expect cheap fare classes will soon NOT be allowed on GU and RU certs. Get ready to PAY MORE for the “privilege” of using your “choice benefit” you are given each year. Again, don’t hate the messenger, I think this “enhancement” is on the way. Think PAIN.

More restrictions on C+ seats. Again, facts are facts. This coach seat with all the perks is the new shiny toy Delta is selling to flyers who are buying it hook-line-and-dollar. They have, for the most part, successfully sold the same coach seat as something special and will be either restricting it more or charging more, even to elites, for this “privileged” seat. I will not pay for this “seat” & will be happy in an exit row and bring my own refreshment on-board thank you very much!

Fees for things that are now waived. Like what? SDC fees for everyone but Diamonds. I will not go through the entire long list, but just go to the medallion  perks page and pick anything that has a waived fee and expect lower rank medallion to pay for things that were free and maybe even some fees for Diamonds. When you only have cuts to make you have to look somewhere after all.

Fees for partner redemptions. We know Delta does not get along that well with Skyteam or Delta partners. I mean try to find just ONE, yes just one, KLM business class seat on award points from Chicago to Amsterdam any day all year. Why not impose yet another fee if the seat is not on a Delta codeshare award or a Delta metal flight.

You know I could do this all day long but I think you have had enough for one day. Folks, please clearly understand nothing good is on the way. Having said that, later I will post a follow-up with what would be smart things that would be #KeepClimbing ideas! – René
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What is it like to fly a Delta 747 simulator? (hint: it is REALLY kool)!

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delta 747 simulator atlanta delta points blog (11)

This past week has been really unique in so many ways. It started with a private event with much of the Delta SkyMiles team, followed by the Travel Executive Summit that I had never been to and then Delta hosted the Freddie awards at the Delta Flight Museum in grand fashion.

delta 747 simulator atlanta delta points blog (1)

But none of these held a candle to the inner AVgeek inside me that had a chance to live a dream to fly a Delta 747. A friend, the outstanding Capt. Hank from Delta, told me he may have some time at the end of the day to give me a few minutes in a “sim”. It did not look like it was going to work, but at the last moment I got a text it would and so I UBER‘ed over to Virginia Ave. as quickly as I could.

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Delta has a bunch of simulators at the corporate offices. They train, not just Delta folks, but others use these as well. They even have an old 737 one at the Delta Flight Museum that you can try for $400 / hour / max 4 people.

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I had a few minutes all alone in the best seat on any jet, 0A with Hank sitting in as my copilot. Yeah, I had goose bumps.

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So where did we take off and land from? A friend told me I should have asked for NRT or Narita, Japan, I would have asked for SXM at Princess Juliana in Saint Maarten, but I was not about to make any kind of special requests! It was honestly really fitting and FUN to take off and land from ATL or Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson considering how many hundreds of times I have been in back from the ATL!

delta 747 simulator atlanta delta points blog (4)

The 747 is a dream to fly. So much of the throttles and more are automatically handled by the flight computers. Hank walked me through much of what I was seeing on the displays and how to sight ahead and glance down now and then to make corrections.

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We came around and lined up for my first landing. Oh boy. How would I do. I really did not want to crash this puppy!

Now for some background I have some “real” time in the air. About 20 flight hours to be exact. I have flown small prop planes a number of times and a number of landings (just no solo flights). But this is not the same at all.

delta 747 simulator atlanta delta points blog (10)

I was instructed on each step along the way and what would be called out to me and at 50 feet to “flare” the jet or softly pull back on the yolk at landing. The first landing I pulled back a little to hard and floated it a bit and then landed safely and proceeded to get my rudders backwards and drove right off into the grass. Oooppssseeee. The next two landing were much better and the last one Hank was nice enough to say it was “as good as any of his landings” ( I think he was just being nice).

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This really was more fun than I can express in words. So many of us love to fly and love all things of the jet age and to “really” fly a 747 would be a dream come true. This was as close as I will ever get. Thank you Capt. Hank! – René
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Reflections on the TES – Travel Executive Summit at the Freddie awards

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travel executive summet

I had not attended the TES or Travel Executive Summit before so this was a fun chance to see just what it was all about.

Travel Executive Summet (2)

Up first was the new CEO of SPG Starwood Preferred Guest hotels and brands. It was an interesting interview by Gary Leff who moderated all the panelists. Adam Aron has a lifetime on loyalty program background and no matter how long he is with SPG I think it will have a positive impact on a brand I already like very much.

Travel Executive Summet (3)

Next up with had an AMEX rep talking about “Plenti” a new rewards program across many companies that will be launching on May 4th. I will reserve input on this new reward currency until it is up and running and we see how well we can do with it. I think the target audience will enjoy it and we, who are more just points enthusiasts, may be able to glean some good. Let’s give it some time and see.

Travel Executive Summet (1)

The last group was the one I really wanted to hear from. It was interesting and at the same time surprising how little was said during the discussion. Here are some of the highlights from each guest.

From Chase. They know all about us who get cards often. It often takes YEARS to get a new card bonus paid out to us earned back for the bank. They feel allowing someone who has had a new card bonus over two years ago is a workable range to incentivise someone to come back to Chase again.

From US Bank. The best bit was when asked about banks paying out a new card bonus again. He related, with cold looks from the AMEX guest next to him, how he had an SPG card 8 years ago (but had forgotten he had it) and got it again as he was going to be staying at many SPG hotels that year. AMEX said NO to his new card bonus after meeting minimum spend. I agree that the AMEX stand on one bonus ever (only for personal cards btw not business) is not a wise move.

From AMEX. Just about nothing was said. I even asked some questions after the panel was over and was given a cold shoulder and told nothing. I am not sure why AMEX was on the panel.

From MasterCard. This panelist spoke for most of the event as so many questions were not questions the bank reps wanted to answer. Generic answers were shared that I think most of us already knew.

From Barclays. Much like US Bank, who is happy with the position and value proposition of the FlexPerks points, Barclays is happy with Arrival points and how it is received in the market. After the panel was over I asked if he ever thought Arrival could add transfer partners to make Arrival more than “just” a coach type redemption product making it an aspirational currency as well and was told there are no such plans but they had not ruled them out either. I would love to see this happen one day.

Overall this was an interesting part of the Freddie awards with proceeds going to charity. Ground breaking information? No, but interesting to hear some bits from those inside the business we enjoy reaping the benefits from. – René
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A very interesting PVT event with the Delta SkyMiles team last night.

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delta and virgin tails at ATL airport from Skyclub Delta points blog

What a week this has been all starting with the joy that non-revs feel (Delta people who are flying basically for free but only where there is an open seat) just hoping for anything to be open flying stand-by. I was on a confirmed SkyMiles award ticket down, but wanted to try to get into town early and made it on the direct flight SBN to ATL.

Just as a background, most of the folks I interact with on a regular basis are the “Corp Com” people or the corporate communications people that deal with the media and people like me. So to have a few private hours with the SkyMiles team people was really a treat.

I can say I enjoyed talking to all of them. They are very interested in SkyMiles and are really wanting to continue to innovate with SkyMiles and it will be interesting to see what new partnerships and ideas pan out. I like some of the things I was told and will share as I can on the blog.

The only concerning part of the evening was something we unfortunately already know and that Delta seems all happy about, that it costs more SkyMiles to get award tickets. The changes that have been made sure are accomplishing those goals. Clearly, Delta is allowed to charge whatever they want for an award ticket, but the advertisements that they are rewarding those who spend most just fall flat to me as you are rewarding no one when it costs so much more for everyone to redeem.

I was also VERY impressed with a new person working on the Skyclubs. I have been very critical of the fact that the changes to the clubs back in September did not go far enough considering how much it now costs to enter or bring in a guest with you. I think we are going to slowly see real improvements in the Skyclubs this year. Stay tuned for more. I am excited to see what happens.

The people who are going to be running the show for us in loyalty, and all that surrounds it, are for the most part “new” in their positions and some are coming with airline background, but some are not but have years in the travel industry and I think they will bring some fresh ideas with them. I am generally a very positive person when it comes to Delta. They do SO much SO right. I just wish a tiny bit of this energy could be focused in a positive way towards SkyMiles awards! – René
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Why choosing Executive Skyclub Membership is such a bad choice for your Diamond Medallion Choice Benefit – A Rookie Wednesday post?

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Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

delta skyclub membership choices

Are Delta Diamond Medallions ever “rookies”? I mean they can qualify by flying 140 segments a year. How can that kind of flyer ever be considered a rookie? Well let me tell you there are more than a few Platinums and Diamond Medallions who either forget to choose (shudder) their “Choice Benefits” or frankly are not making the best choice possible for themselves.

On this post I wanted to look at one that I have been told by so many they have selected as their second Diamond choice after 1st choosing Global Upgrade certs (clearly one of the single most valuable choices you can make) that is, upgrading their Skyclub membership to Executive Status. But is this a wise move? I say no way and would never do that. Why? Let’s break it down.

As a choice you are getting 1 or 2 people extra free entrance into the club with you. If you are doing this for your spouse you are saving $29 per visit. If you were just to pay for 7 visits (not that I am suggesting this is smart btw), you would pay $203. So, if you are bringing your +1 in less that than you are better off with another choice of say 25,000 SkyMiles worth at least $250 or one of the other $200 in value choices. Or, even the Gold Medallion status for someone as that is hard to put a value on but most say it is at least worth $500-$1,000!

So what is smarter choice to me? The personal non-Delta  AMEX Platinum card <–LINK  gives you a ton of value the first year because, once approved and you have met the $3,000 required spend you get:

  • 40,000 Membership Rewards points
  • Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually.
  • $100 Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit (when paid with the card)

Plus, after the 1st of the year, 2016, you get another $200 Airline Fee Credit. You see my point, the first year the non-waived $450 is not bad at all for value received.

But, and here is the point of this post, say you have your spouse and others over 15 you want to add on to your account. Notice what you can get:

For only $175 you can add up to three additional secondary cards on your primary account. These Additional cardholders get Delta Skyclub and other Club access like Airspace Lounge & via Priority Pass so many more. Plus, they also get Centurion Lounge access & a $100 credit for Global Entry that includes TSA PreCheck (when the $100 application fee is charged on the additional card). Don’t forget the primary can call and each additional user also gets SPG Gold status as long as they hold that card!

In other words, depending on your circumstances, you are better off this route to get Skyclub access AND enjoy a bunch more perks than just using your Choice Benefit this way.

You may ask what do I choose each year as my Diamond Medallion choice benefit? Naturally, Global upgrade certificates first choice. Next, either Gold Medallion membership for my wife or 25,000 SkyMiles depending on how were are flying that year.

The bottom line is the valuable perk of attaining Diamond medallion status and being able to select Choice Benefits is tremendous. Just think through what is the best choice for YOU and consider all your options as once you make your selection there is NO going back for the year. – René
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Will Lyft really pay out $500 for new Chicago drivers this time? Is it worth going after?

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500 credit for new lyft drivers chicago

If you are a regular reader of the blog you will recall my Lyft vs Uber comparison post. I have used Lyft exactly twice. It seems drivers do drive for both ride share companies at the same time. So it really gets down to the experience for you and me as a rider.

This past weekend I at last had a chance to use up my lonesome Lyft credit I had in my account (right now both Uber and Lyft offer $20 credits for 1st use as a rider) and had an interesting chat with the driver. It seems Lyft, according to him anyway, is not doing so well against Uber and they are rather desperate to attract new drivers.

Once I got done with my ride my e-mailed receipt included an offer for new DRIVERS for Lyft to get $500 for becoming a Lyft driver. That sounds great. But is it really.

My fellow BA blogger Jen you may also recall jumped on the $1,000 promotion to be a Lyft driver and never saw one cent from it. Will Lyft pull the same thing with this latest $500 promotion? Who knows, but their track record has not been stellar so far, clearly.

As far as from a rider standpoint, I like that they still allow airport pickups much more than Uber does. You can still do the “move the pointer” trick with Uber, request a ride, and then call the driver where you really are, but they don’t all say yes to that request. With Lyft you just request and are done. Simple.

What do you think? Do you like Uber better than Lyft or the other way around. Would you sign up to be a driver and take 30 fares in a month to get a $500 bonus? I would love to know! – René

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Tickets for the 2015 Chicago Seminars go LIVE on sale today at NOON ET!

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photos from the chicago seminars delta points blog (6)

I can’t wait. October 16-18th, 2015 I, and about 500 other points enthusiasts, will be in Chicago showing you how to earn and burn all things points. Tickets go on sale at NOON ET today so set a phone alarm NOW.

I will be speaking on Friday night again and helping out here and there including the airline breakout session on Sunday afternoon (a fun session where we all just share some of our best stuff).

From mileage runs, to MS, to hotels and on and on will be featured, oh and some fun events after all the info as well. You will get to listen to some of the top minds in the “points game”.

If you have never ever been to one of these you will feel welcomed and your mind will be blown. If you have gone before, it will be fun to see you again! Hope to see you there. – René

PS – Until noon you can look at the FrugalTravelGuy’s web site for more info as well at THIS Flyertalk thread for the latest.

 

Below is the current schedule of events:

Friday October 16th

4pm – 830pm – Registration Desk Open

5pm – 530pm – Introduction and Welcome to Chicago Seminars (hdawg)

6pm – 7pm
Rookie Bootcamp with Dave (Bikeguy)
International Bootcamp with Stefan (Rapid Travel Chai)
Become an Expert with ExpertFlyer (John from ExpertFlyer)

730pm – 830pm
All About Delta with Rene (DeltaPoints) <— That’s ME
All About Southwest with Bonnie (FrugalTravelLawyer)
Organizing Everyone’s Points with Howie (hdawg / FTG)

Saturday October 17th

830am – 12pm – Registration Desk Open

830am – 930am – Customer Service & Aviation with Captain Denny Flanagan

945am – 1045am – Credit Cards with Rick the Frugal Travel Guy

11am – 12p
Beginners with Summer (Mommy Points)
Bluebird, Redbird and Serve with Greg (Frequent Miler)
Greg The Frequent Miler & Experiments
Manufactured Spending with Marathon Man

12pm – 1pm – Lunch

1pm – 215pm
How To Find Cheap Premium Airfare with Ben Schlappig (One Mile At A Time)
Maximizing Online Portals with Greg (Frequent Miler)
Cruising with MJ & Amtrak with Dave (Marshall Jackson on Travel & Bikeguy)

230pm – 345pm
Last Minute Award Bookings with Ben Schlappig (One Mile at a Time)
101 Tips to be an Expert Traveler with Stefan (Rapid Travel Chai)
Amazing Value on Aeroplan with Miguel (PMMTravelConsulting / FTG)

4pm – 5pm
Live: Award Booking with Ari Charlestein (Travel Education Network)
Exotic and Adventure Travel with Matthew Clint (Upgrd)
Booking Awards for Five or More People with Dave (Bikeguy)

515pm – 615pm
Anti Round-the-World Trip Redemptions with Scott (MileValue)
Award Stopovers with Drew Macomber (Travel Is Free)
Sweet Spot Award Redemptions with Angelina Aucello (Just Another Points Traveler)

Sunday October 18th (All Sunday Sessions are open to all)

8am – 9am – Open Panel Discussion on Credit Cards

9am – 10am – Sponsors Workshop

10am – 11am – Charity Raffle

1115am – 1215pm – Hotel Breakouts

1215pm – 115pm – Lunch

115pm – 230pm – Airline Breakouts <— That’s ME again helping out

245pm – 4pm – Event Closing & Open Panel on Everything Else
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Did you catch Delta Points & Mommy Points on Fox News Happening Now today about summer travel? See what you missed

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rene summer heather on fox news happening now delta points blog

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It was fun to be on national TV today on Fox News Happening Now with my fellow BoardingArea blogger Summer from Mommy Points. You can watch the segment above and from THIS link in case you missed it.

Summer, as always, had some great tips. If you are new to the blog my focus is always about Delta Air Lines and how to get the most out of every dollar and point you earn and spend with Delta.

This morning I posted about the fact that often very hard to find Delta “Level 1″ award seats from Delta hubs are plentiful even for peak travel this summer. Most times it is all but impossible to find “cheap” Delta points seats unless you are booking a long way out, so this is one not to miss.

The other bit I mentioned is spending your hotel points and if you are a Delta flyer you should be considering the Starwood Preferred guest program. Why? First off, you have the SPG AMEX card <– LINK for personal use as well as the SPG AMEX Business card <– LINK that can help you rack up points for rooms world wide at hotels like Westin, Sheraton and more in the SPG family of hotels. Also, Delta has a great tie-in with the Crossover Rewards program for Delta flyers. It is free to join and you can earn extra points for every dollar you spend.

Lastly I touched on another great tip, that is, not having extra fees added to your travel costs after you get home. So many travel cards charge what is called an international transaction fee for processing a charge in a currency other than US Dollars. The Delta AMEX cards <– LINK  from AMEX do not have these fees so are a good choice for those wanting to earn more SkyMiles.

If you are new to the blog be sure to subscribe to our once daily email blast and follow along on Twitter for the latest new from Delta Points! – René
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Very good COACH “Level 1″ award seats from Delta “hubs” this summer to England, Scandinavia and Europe

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Delta 767-300 economy comfort seats - Delta Points blog review (9)

The above seats are from an international Delta 767 wide body jet. Delta has updated the leather with a newer look but you get the idea. All have IFE or in flight entertainment & power for your devices. Most of the time, here on the blog, I focus on ways to redeem your SkyMiles for DeltaONE or Business Elite seats to Europe and beyond. Personally I feel this is getting real value from your SkyMiles. But take a look at just one example for comparison.

price to buy a ticket to lhr from nyc with money

If we look at buying flights from the New York area to London, England this summer for a week vacation we are talking $1,800 range in coach and $3,000-$5,000 in business class. Neither is really “cheap” but if either choice can be booked with “Level 1″ (or even slightly higher) redemption we can find value from our SkyMiles and in the coach example we are getting nearly 3 cents each in value (that is a lot, by the way).

I thought I would point out that there is really is good availability from a number of Delta “hub” cities this summer in June/July/August. Just look at these searches for 2 people I found:

skymiles nyc to london 1 week

nyc to stockholm skymiles

Choose either England or Sweden from the New York city area for 60,000 or Level 1 redemption on a number of open dates for a week (or so).

atlanta to london skymiles

Atlanta, you would think you would have a TON of choices but the best seems to be England to score Level 1

msp to lhr 1 week coach

Same goes for Minneapolis. Think England and then consider cheaper choices if you want to go onward to Europe.

sea to lhr in sept

sfo to lhr

lax to lhr

And same goes for West coast folks, that is, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles – England is the place to go to find good space at either the lowest 60,000 point redemption or a tolerable 67,500 slightly higher price. Also note the Seattle dates are into September.

slc to lhr

Salt Lake, like hub fortress Atlanta, England is for you and not as many choice dates at Level 1 open space, but still not bad.

ord to ams aug

ord to cdg aug

Chicago is clearly NOT a Delta hub in name or practice but I thought I would toss it in for Midwest folks and even though most of the dates to Amsterdam and Paris are 67,500 redemptions, look at the taxes – they are low. So, even though you are paying a few more points you are saving on the tax side so one to consider.

Does this surprise you that this late in the year you can find this much space at the lowest level award from Delta? I am very surprised I have to tell you, but then again I spend most of my time looking for business class seats. There is some real value here flying coach for those who would rather spend their money at the  destination  rather than the travel experience getting there!

Some other important things to consider before we wrap this up. One of the EVIL things many credit card companies do is charge a foreign transaction fee, that is, some 1-3% (or more) of each and every charge to convert your charge from whatever currency the country is using to USDollars. Please don’t use a credit card that does this. The Delta Gold, Platinum and Reserve AMEX cards <– LINK no longer have this fee and I was pleased to see it go. With the strong US Dollar we are getting, for all practical purposes, very good value against the British Pound, the Euro and even the Swedish Krona.

Lastly, regular readers know Delta now “hides” their award charts from us online but they still use them to calculate the price of a ticket in SkyMiles. You can find copies of those hidden charts HERE on the blog – 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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The nuts & bolts of travel blogging – where are we going next? What is needed.

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the business of blogging

I have to say I really love it when people, especially not travel people, ask me what I do. When I tell them I am a travel blogger they just stare at me like I have just spoken to them in a strange foreign language. I then also equally enjoy saying, “yeah, it is a kinda strange way to make a living”.

There is no question the travel blogger space is crowded right now. Just look at the growth BoardingArea (BA) has had from just BA to now include the feeder sister site Prior2Boarding (P2B) that also features those blogs on a rotation schedule on the main BA home page. This really is a lot of blogs just on one mega-site that is BoardingArea.

Most folks know that bloggers with direct credit card links get a commission on successful applications. While I am not allowed to talk about numbers, some can be very modest (like a pizza dinner for my wife and I). The real interesting part that no one talks about is how low these numbers can be for completed applications. How low? 1-3% of anyone who clicks on a card link does end up getting a travel card. Bottom line it takes a TON of people clicking before a blogger sees any income. Oh and 3rd party links, that are not direct card links, the percentage of those who click those drops to fractions of a percentage point.

The real future in blogging is from ads like you see here around the blog or what is called impression advertizing. With banks dumping more and more blogs due to compliance issues, plus they just don’t produce enough card sales to be worthwhile, then their ad money must flow somewhere. BA, being a premium travel mega-site,  can demand a premium rate vs just someone setting up their own site and trying to put up an ad. By just reading the blog, I make a tiny bit but with many millions of views a year that can become an income.

What does it take to make a “go” at travel blogging? A ton of work and time. It takes more time to produce a product readers will be drawn to than anyone believes. It takes a ton of time to know and be able to speak with authority on whatever your focus is and a willingness to stick to blogging as a moderately obsessive hobby for quite a while before it produces anything real.

So what do I think is needed? I have for a long time said targeted blogs are a good choice similar to mine. There are tons of general interest blogs, but targeted ones are still needed. A blog 99% focused on United or American as a go-to source with any question would be great to see. What about rental cars? Do you rent cars each week and know each of their point programs inside and out? You could be “that” blogger we all look to for the answers we need. I think you get the basic idea.

Anyway, I just thought I would share some of the behind the scenes stuff that goes into the world of travel blogging. – René
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My best ever 10,000 SkyMiles redemption to date and it will be such a drag. I can’t wait (yep we are SO doing this)!

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miles for auction

10,000 SkyMiles – it does not seem like that much right? I mean Delta will now give you 2,500 SkyMiles if your bag is late more than 20 minutes after all.

Well this past Sunday I popped up a post for something I have wanted to do for a long time. It was amazing timing that next week many readers will be in Atlanta for either the Freddie’s, or the Delta Points dinner the day after (or both), and when we saw only a few of the 9 open auctions were being bid on for these “SkyMiles Experiences” we took care of that quickly!

shot of delta 757 jet pull delta tech ops atl airport

Myself, and at least 3 other readers, won 10k redemptions to be part of this amazing event. First off it is supporting an amazing cause that is near to my heart, but beyond that how many AVgeek and DeltaGeek people can say they have dragged a Delta 757 with a rope :-)

I cannot wait for each day the rest of this month. Tomorrow I get to meet many readers in MSP for a Dinner event. Then another EAT run. Next week down to ATL for the Freddie’s, the jet pull, the ATL Dinner event and who knows what else. Good times! – René
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What every successful frequent traveler knows & what a difference this can make.

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how you treat others

The above is a tweet from the well known flight attendant Heather Poole and it is a reference to the ESPN announcer who blew up and was very mean to a towing company employee. The tweet is in regards to the character of the person in question, but I think there is more to be taken away from this and what everyone who travels often knows and just “does” right.

Let’s first off be very honest about this. Unless we are talking about your home town airport or something similar, “most” folks in the travel industry, be it a phone rep or a flight attendant, you will only see or talk to once in your lifetime. Sure there are exceptions, but most times this is the fact of the matter. I mean, I flew well over 120 segments last year and saw the same flight attendant only once.

So with that, does how you interact with folks matter? You better believe it does!

There are two big factors at play when it comes to your interactions with those in the travel industry. The first simple one is they are deserving of your kindness, respect and appreciation for what they do (likely for less money per year than you make). They put up with less than nice people all day long and THEY, most times, smile back at you. Keep that bit in mind and please try to always smile when you greet them! I do.

The next one is much more selfish, but after all we are the ones trying for an upgrade, a better route, room or something we want. If by just being a nice person, that we should be anyway, we can get more for us that is just icing on the cake – right?

For example, when you call Delta, please do this (not word for word but as an example):

Rep answers phone: Hello this is Bob how may I help you Mr. de Lambert?
Me: Hello Bob, how are you today? (smile, it will come through on the phone)
Rep: I am good thank you for asking.
Me: I am calling about XYZ
Rep: OK I have it how can I help you.

You now ask the rep for whatever it is you want to have happen. It may be simple or it may be hard. It may be inside the rules or it may be outside the rules. Just remember we are talking airline rules not laws of the land. You are not going to go to jail if a rep breaks a rule for you, but you also don’t want to get them in any trouble. You want to be their friend, even if just for this call.

Me: Can we possibly switch me to ZYX from XYZ due to (whatever)
Rep: Let me look. No, that is not going to work.
Me: Bob (notice I saved the rep’s name and I USE IT), I don’t want to get you in any kind of trouble. Is this a situation a supervisor could do something to help “us” out?

You see what I am doing here. It is now “us”, you and the rep, working to get what you want done and the team of you and Bob are going to plead to the next one up the food chain to help the both of “us” out!

You can really apply this to almost any travel situation. Even IF the rep on the other side is short, nasty and unhelpful with you – do NOT push back. Smile again. Thank them warmly and move on. Find someone else who will help you get what you need.

I know this can be hard if you have, say, been flying for a day or two and are beat, want a shower and food and sleep and the rep across the line or desk is not being helpful at all, but do remember cameras are EVERYWHERE and ending up on youtube or CNN is not #Winning. Winning is getting what you need and feeling good about yourself at the end of the travel day!- René
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