Does #Skymiles2015 mean the end of the Delta Mileage run (and new blog)?

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my twitter chat with airfarwatchdog rene deltapoints-com blog

I had a fun interchange with AirFareWatchDog yesterday on twitter about mileage runs after the MAJOR news about the changes to the Delta Skymiles program to start in 2015. The problem most have is they have the wrong idea about just what a mileage run is. This comes from an age old understanding about it and that was once true; the old old way was earning SO many points off a cheap flight that the points could be spent for a 1st class flight somewhere else like Europe. Those days are long gone.

Nowadays a mileage run (MR) is about “the miles”! No, not Skymiles but elite miles or as we Delta flyers call them MQMs or Medallion Qualifying Miles. A combination of those points, and spend or spend exemptions (the cheapest MR you can make), yields your elite status of either Silver, Gold, Platinum or the top Diamond. A mileage run is to earn these points, not award points plain and simple. That is not to say that redeemable miles don’t have value, it is just not the goal (even more so in 2015).

When we look at a price of a ticket, say these two runs (2 days back to back) where I paid $306 for the tickets and earned over 11,000 MQMs. My CPM or Cost/Cents Per Mile was just 2.8. That is, I paid $306 to get 11,003 MQMs. When you compare this price to the price Delta will SELL you MQMs this past year as a Diamond, that is $1995 for 10,000 MQMs, you can see the great value I received. The goal was a great price for elite miles and I can still score that under Skymiles2015!

Now yes, earning 24,757 Skymiles on that run, worth at least $248 vs under the new 2015 model where I would earn 2,652 Skymiles, worth only $27, is a big hit on the “bonus” side. But that is all this is, a hit on the bonus, or essentially rebate, I get back. This has NO impact on the price to “buy” the elite miles on the mileage run. I do value my Skymiles so it is true the NET price, that is the cost of the run minus the value of miles, will go up.

All this means for me, and other mileage runners, is the price to take a run will have to be even better. Rather than accepting 5-6 CPM we will have to look for sub 4 CPM runs or less.

Is it worth it? That is a personal choice. If you value the perks of whatever elite level, the Choice Benefits for the top elites, the upgrades (the product is very good), the special treatment and phone reps, the bonus miles, not having to pay for most fees when you fly and on and on, and you need a few more points to reach that level, a mileage run can still be the best choice (and a “fun run” can most times be fun too)!

I think there will still be a need going forward for a DeltaMileageRun.com blog page and especially for the rest of 2014 where we can earn all the MQMs and Skymiles possible. Even after that under the new Skymiles2015 system to top off our accounts or make the next level at a good price. What do you think? Are the days of mileage runs over or just more of a challenge? – René
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26 comments

  1. You explained it perfectly. The Skymiles2015 changes have zero impact on earning Medallion status, which is why most people go on a mileage run anyway.

    Most of the people complaining about Skymiles2015 didn’t even read the full details of what the changes are.

  2. Agreed. So please continue with the mileage run site. I guess my only worry is that they are boiling the frog (us) slowly on their way to complete revenue earning for status (i.e no more MQM’s, just MQD) and no more mileage award charts, just 1 point = 1 cent and you buy your reward with points. That would stink. Certainly they can’t do it in all one step, so we have a couple more years. I hope my fear is wrong.

  3. Great post. I think there was a lot of confusion yesterday. I understand why people are upset, but it shouldn’t be those folks that focus on the MQMs. and yes, please continue to do the mileage run site.

  4. Yes this is still valid and important to DM’s! We will do anything to keep or upgrade our status.

    On December 20th, I stayed at a Hampton Inn 2 miles from my house for one night. Why? Because I needed 1 more stay to reach Diamond Elite with Hilton and it was only $76. Was it worth it? Heck yeah it was! That one extra night nets me more bonus points and perks than I can buy for 100X’s the amount spent.

    This is why your blog is so important to those that live in seat 8C on a CRJ between MYR-ATL. And that’s because I want the upgrade from ATL to where I’m going.

    Continue the good work!!!

  5. Probably won’t stop me from MRing (though since I’m working on my 2016 PM-level right now, I will undoubtedly get more picky).

    Assuming that both the perks and the medallion qualifying levels stay the same (not sure that’s a good assumption, but it’s a place to start): DM perks and services are worth at least $2K to me, and will continue to be, even given the slightly lower 120% DM bonus on RDMs under the new system. I’ll have 50-75K in business flights, so with 30K MQM from Amex, spending $ on a few MRs still makes sense.

  6. Bring on the MQDs only! I spent 40k last year on domestic flights, almost all for business. Is love to get rid of MQMs and qualify for status on spend.

  7. It does not completely do away with it but it certainly makes it less of an incentive for the time and effort unless you are close to or wish to achieve a higher Medallion level.

    Of course, with all the announcement gnashing of teeth yesterday, we don’t know what the award redemption program will look like and that is a big key… If the charts reamain the same or similar, then obviously yesterday was an incredibly huge devaluation but if the award redemption becomes similar to say, Southworst, then earning far less for those LUT fares and below won’t hurt as badly (but it will still hurt)…

    That said, the atrocious press DL is receiving on this may be raising some eyebrows down on Virginia Avenue.

  8. Doing mileage run for status will still be worthwhile, especially since one of the Diamond awards is four business class upgrades on international flights (even on low price fare class). That in itself is worth several thousands. Add almost guaranteed first class upgrades domestically and a 5,000 MQM run here and there makes sense if once is close to becoming Diamond.
    Sure, the award miles are less but going San Diego to Shanghai via Detroit in economy for about US$ 1,000 and earning 40,000 SkyMiles (as a Diamond member) valued conservatively at US$ 400 was way to good to be true.
    My annual award in SkyMiles will drop from 200,000+ SkyMiles per year to 100,000. This makes the Diamond upgrade certificates even more valuable as I will only earn one free business class ticket (low level) per year versus the regular two from Delta using the new system.
    Having status makes traveling so much simpler, especially when something going wrong, such as a delayed flight, delayed luggage, need to change flight to later flight and the overall check-in process.

  9. Yes I Mileage Run for status. I have done about 25K in Mileage runs each year for the past several years to earn & maintain platinum status.
    The announced award program changes much but there are still more things to be disclosed.
    So far, we have been told only a small part of the story. We don’t know what earning will be like on partners. We don’t know what the reward chart changes will be. It may be that the Delta changes include a revenue based award chart for 2015 and beyond. If that chart bases redemption on some sort of fixed value per redeemable mile say 1 -2 cents a RDM, then Mileage running on Delta is history. There isn’t enough value in domestic upgrades alone to keep me flying Delta. This is further compounded by the removal of Domestic Transcons from complimentary upgrades this year .
    I also find it disingenuous to include AMEX bonus miles on Delta in the RDM calculation – I earn that now when I book tickets. It isn’t an enhancement. Plus RDMs are basically computed on base fares not taxes and fees so earning on Trans Atlantic fares might be negligible.
    So in short, Delta it was a wonderful love affair while it lasted. I fell in love the airline you were and are but not the one that you will become.

  10. Fundamentally, the changes Delta and others will make along with the reduced cost to pay for first class (discounted first) by Delta make me as a former DM less interested in spending any additional dollars for status as I get all benefits of simply buying first class seats and from a redemption perspective, I agree with Don and others that you won’t be able to get much in return (less than a penny a mile eventually). For Delta, there is a larger business case to fill first with paying flyers like me (even at a discount) than to give it away and if you are looking to fly for free using points then moving to an artificial CC spend is going to be the new way where you can choose which airline to use rather than stuck with Skypesos you can’t use or are unexpectedly devalued.

    Alternatively, I would like someone as yourself spend time investigating SkyTeam Partner alternatives where if someone wants to remain loyal and collect BIS miles for future Delta flights could do so as a member of their loyalty program (like Alaska or others?). I would love to read it and I think others would too. Thanks!

    Chris

  11. The MR is dead since unless you spend 25k on a delta card which very few regular people would you wont hit your numbers. Doing 11k mr that nets only 200$ leaves you way short of even doing silver at that rate, now figure out MR for people who dont have 25k spending limit on their american express cards

  12. Rene, I think the point of confusion is RDMs vs MQMs. What you’re saying (and what i didn’t get) is that while RDMs are based on fare purchased (revenue-based), MQM’s will be based on actual miles flow and therefore this new change doesn’t matter as far qualification for status? Please confirm this

  13. @James – First off, I would not MR for Silver as the Delta AMEX Platinum card gets you many of the same perks (but not all). But say you get the Delta AMEX Reserve card. You spend $60,000 before 31DEC2014 (EZ to do). You earn 10k card bonus + 15k+15k card bonus with spend thus netting you 40k MQMs. Clear so far? Now, you do a MR like mine, 11k more puts you to 51k and GOLD Medallion. Well worth spending $306 to get the perks like free upgrades on award tickets etc etc!

  14. @Alex – the only change is to Skymiles ie RDMs. MQMs are just as they are today with NO CHANGE. What you earn today, you will earn in 2015. No change. Confirmed.

  15. Unfortunately most of the bloggers, except Gary and Lucky, cater to those who care more about RDMs than MQMs. Time will tell.

  16. I completely agree with Don that delta seems to be heading toward 1 point = 1 cent. My other concern is if delta is really going to be able to calculate how many points I really earn on a given flight because there are so many different earning levels and prices you earn those points on. Example: Rene takes the same flight I do and even pays the same amount for that flight but he earns at the diamond level and I earn at the platinum level. I’m so confused as to what earns what points that I’m not sure I even know how to check if my credited points are correct. Though, truthfully, I’m not sure now!

  17. The problem that you are forgetting old mile runs were for earning mqm. And a mileage running constantly in 2015 may earn you 100,00s of MQM, but if one doesnt meet the MQD requirements then mileage runs are pointless. If someone was to fly 120k mqms at 2.5cpm they would only earn spend ~$2500. Enough for only silver status. So dpes mileage running make sense? Only if you’re a business travel trying to up your status around the end of the year when the mqds are met but the mqms are not

  18. Greetings Rene! You are amazing!
    I have 2 mile runs set up and will work for more this year. I am hoping to possibly try for Platinum for 2015 or at least spill over a nice parcel of miles into 2015.
    I will try to burn some miles on hopeful bump flts also—- it’s been quite a while.
    I need good statistical oversell dates and connections.
    Perhaps I’m delusional
    Or looking through proverbial
    Rose colored glasses but
    I have think mile-runs shall continue , albeit with changes
    We all must move or become stagnant
    Ps
    Please keep me pistes re ord. FTU
    Namaste
    Nina

  19. I have gold status for 2015, I am 2100 dollars short if platinum. Is it worth it? I can go to Sydney tommorow! Please help!

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