The answers to all your Delta questions ☺ well most of them anyway!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Q1) FT’er – When and where should one flash that Delta Skymiles membership card including SM, GM, PM & DM?

I have my card clipped to my computer bag when I travel. Do I ever need it? Not really. Today there will be few times you must show it but there are exceptions. Most of the time your status is printed on your boarding pass. A DM can use their card to enter the SKYCLUBS. You can also use your card to check in at the kiosks or to reprint or even to board (freaks the gate agent out when you scan the bar code and out comes a pass – fun to do – try it some time just for grins). So there you are. If your skymiles number is in the reservation you are set.

Q2) FT’er -If a new Skymiles member is going to make a run at Silver Elite in calendar year 2012 – basically 0 miles to 25K – what happens at the end of the year?

Rollover miles are any miles above one status level yet under the next or over 125,000. So, if you start 2012 at ZERO. Then fly say 25,000 miles in January 2012, and then do not fly again all year, you will be SM until FEB2014. (you earn it and have it 2012, earned it for 2013, it expires in FEB 2014). Now, let’s say you fly 1000 more miles in 2012 and then go home. You will start 2013 with 1000 miles rollover and only need to fly 24,000 to earn SM status until FEB2015.

Q3) ItalyLovers – Can you use Delta miles for hotel stays?

Yes. You can log on to Delta.com and go to use miles and in the marketplace pick hotels or cars. Most of us value our Delta points at 1 cent. I use 2 cents for me. So let’s see about a ski day in SLC. You see below it is much cheaper to pay $49 vs points $86. Now the funny thing(s) is a car rental. Here we are almost at 1 cent per point value. Other readers have said they like this way of burning points. Value is up to you! Also funny in researching this is a convertible in SLC in the middle of winter priced ridiculously low, but that is for another post!

Q4) Steve – So not infrequently I need to make a last minute trip and of course it’s usually pretty expensive. So I want to use miles. And since Delta doesn’t offer a one way award, I book a RT, picking a return date at random (falling on a “low mileage” day). Of course in the event I want to use the return leg, I need to pay a fee to change it to my real desired date. Any strategy for this that I’m missing?

Since Delta does not as of yet offer one way awards, the way to help yourself is the multi-leg return packing strategy and wait for a schedule change. So, you can fly direct ORD-SLC let’s say. Now you can for the return book SLC-ATL-DTW-ORD. Book them as far out as you can and as tight as you can. Then, when the flights change and don’t work, you can either ask for your miles back or change the date to something better!

Q5) Danielle – which delta credit card is best? (or how would you determine that?)

That depends on what you want. I was just talking to a reader about this and they do not want status. They want Delta points. I suggested he and his wife BOTH get a  personal  and  business  AMEX DELTA GOLD card. Each of them gives you 30k with no 1st year fee. This will earn them after low spend 120,000 points. But, if you want status, then the AMEX PLATINUM or RESERVE cards are good choices as they give you MQM’s for getting the cards and for spending on them each year.

Q6) Mike – I usually cant stand any flights over 2-3 hours. I know this is matter of preference, would you say its worth to spend extra miles/$ to upgrade to better seating when flying over 3 hours? Or should I just save them and drink some hard liquor and pass out during the flight?

Never over drink. It is especially dangerous to over drink on a flight in case of an emergency and your life may depend on being sober. I would work on getting PLATINUM or higher status with DELTA. Start with the DELTA RESERVE card to earn 10k MQM and go from there to earn FREE upgrades on both paid and points tickets.

Q7) Sandy – Which airline/hotels/credit cards can you transfer to using Delta miles? Which airline/hotels/credit cards can transfer to Delta?

The card all of us crazy bloggers just love love love is the SPG AMEX card. Why? If you send 20,000 SPG points to Delta you earn 25,000 ( they give you 5000 bonus each time you send over 20,000). The other is the AMEX Membership Rewards card. In the past they have given as much as 50% bonus miles and MQM’s for first time transfers!

Q8) The Weekly Flyer – What market is Delta targeting for fast track elite marketing promotions (i.e. 2011 2 trips to gold, 3 trips to plat)?

There is no question that Delta is “head hunting” other airlines’ elite flyers. But, the 72hr change rule has also cost them a good number defecting to other airlines. This year they had Silver to Gold and Gold to Platinum promotions with just a few flights. There is a very targeted promotion now for some AMEX holders to get status. My guess is there will be great promotions coming Q2-2012 so stay tuned and I will post them as soon as I hear the news!

Q9) Michael – Since the Delta website can be a ‘little cranky’ at times, what tips do you have for booking Delta awards using other websites(to use Delta miles)? Is there a ‘best’ carrier for Delta awards?

So can you use like AF & KLM or Alaska Air to look for Delta space? Sorta. But the bottom line is you will have to have space showing in the Delta system to get the seats. The one leg at a time search is the only way to be sure low level seats are really available.

Q10) Napolehon- what happens to the miles when i book a round trip award ticket for 100k and i cancel after my first leg?

Under the new 72hr rule you have spent 100k for a one leg trip. ( unless you get a nice rep who can help as any of them can override the rule if they want – crazy way to run a program but that is the “rule” for now)

Q11) Danny – What does Delta charge to cancel/change an award redemption? Is there any way to get those miles back once you’ve booked? Is there a certain level of status necessary?

Platinum and higher get free changes all they want up to 72hrs pre-flight. The only other way is if there is a schedule change then you can ask for them back or change at no cost. A great way to move up, as talked about in other questions, is the DELTA RESERVE card to earn 10k MQM to start and up to 30k more each year.

Q12) Josh – Just made Platinum for the first time (thanks AMEX for the 40k EQMs). Status changed about 10 days ago. Will my Platinum gift options be in my Platinum welcome kit and how long does it usually take to get a welcome kit?

First well done my fellow Platinum Medallion flyer I will see you “in front of the curtain”! Now you can pick your Platinum gift when ever you want. Your kit can take up to 6 weeks and you will get a new one by March next year as well!

Q13) Stephanie – I have about 27,000 miles in my account right now..enough for a free domestic flight..do you think it would be worth it to use some of those miles to upgrade on an international flight?

You touch on a very “touchy” subject for Delta flyers. Here is the deal. Look up the price of an international flight in a fare high enough for upgrade and then same thing for lowest business class fare and you find the price is about the same. So, no. Just save and earn until you have enough miles for a 100,000 point low level trip to Europe!

Q14) Rob – Is Platinum worth it, or should I stay Gold and roll over ~22k MQM’s?

This is a very personal question and answer. Platinum is a must have if you are going to burn a bunch of points and want unlimited changes. Upgrades are better. You can pick a Platinum gift like 20k Skymiles. If you pay for tickets GOLD is maybe good enough for you with 100% bonus on miles and now access to international lounges free on any class ticket! So you make the call. (sorry but it really is a personal choice – I love Plat but never pay for tickets ).

Q15) Alen – If you select a Preferred Seat at booking, then get upgraded to First Class during your upgrade window, but then get bumped from First Class, only to be re-issued a non-preferred seat (or, worse, a bad bulkhead seat), do you have any argument with the GA to give you a better seat? (Presumption: the flight is full.)

Yes – sorta. You can request to be put on a later flight and immediately cleared to 1st class. It should be E-Z for them as the rebook is “Y” class and your upgrade should auto-clear then as well. On the current flight, you are stuck with what they have. One other fix is use Twitter. Go away from the desk and let @DeltaAssist fix it for you !

Q16) Dave – Any idea why DL occasionally runs P fare first tickets for less than coach? I just picked up NYC-MKE over Christmas weekend for less than comparable routed coach seats on CO.

With Delta “IT” who knows but my guess would be price match or mistake etc. Keep in mind agents are inputting price codes all the time. Things happen like the $150 all-in trip NYC to Denmark last year (I was on a cruise ship or would have booked 10 of those trips!)

 an update this far in – some questions are covered by others’ questions

Q17) Rob – Hi, do you know whether- with the Delta Amex Gold offer now for 30k miles-you can get these miles if you already have another delta amex that has given you miles?

You can have any DELTA AMEX “flavor” card and even all at once if you want. If you cancel one you must wait 24 months to get a “new” welcome bonus again. So yes you could get GOLD now, then in a few months get PLATINUM, and then in a few months get DELTA RESERVE card if you would want to. Same with the business cards by the way!

Q18) Weston – What are some tips on scoring a bump on a Delta Flight?

I talk about the best way here in this blog post all about bumping.

Q19) Anna – What’s the easiest way to become Delta elite? Is it MRing on Delta flights, credit card spend, etc.?

I will have a great blog post on the way soon about this so stay tuned. But for now yes the best way IMO is the DELTA RESERVE card that can earn you 40,000 MQM’s first year!

Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
Click here for more information

Q20) Angelina – Does Delta offer any kind of status match with CO/United? I am Gold Elite… If so, how would I go about asking for one?

Yes but be careful about status match with any airline. Most are once in your lifetime! So pick the match very carefully. Here is the link to request the match.

Q21) Frequent Miler – As a new Delta Platinum Medallion, I have a question about the free award changes. I understand that changes have to be made more than 3 days prior to your flight. My question is about the return flight: suppose I start an award trip by flying outbound somewhere and then I want to change the return. Can I still do so if it is more than 3 days before the return?

Flip a coin! I love my Delta airline but this rule is ever changing. Here are the facts from the Delta.com support desk confirmed with a supervisor. The 72hr rule ONLY applies to the outbound part of your trip. Once you start the trip, you can change the return without any risk of loss of miles up to the time of flight. PM & DM pay no change fees. Now does the DL site state this clearly?  No!  Do reps get the rule wrong?  Yes!  So we all hope the verbiage will be made clear soon.

Q22) Lauren – Could you please explain more about how the same-day confirm change ticket benefit works? I am a Delta Gold and I believe I can change my ticket for free but I was wondering if you had specifics.

Yes GOLD and higher can do what you want but your request must be within three hours of the scheduled departure of the new requested flight. You can see about this and all the Medallion benefits at the Delta.com site here.

Q23) Allen – I live in a city within 250 miles from ATL, so I always got connected via ATL. The short hop is great for the min 500 miles, but I can hardly find any good fares for MRs. What’s best strategy for me?

This is talked about a bunch here at Flyer Talk. I would read that post and think about the fact that each way on a trip you can have up to 5 legs and keep it “legal”. So always think not ATL-LAX but ATL-DTW-MSP-SLC-LAX! Reps understand mileage runs and most are happy to help you work a long route to get the most points.

Q24) Mike – Can you speculate about the changes (if any) to the 2012 Skymiles program? And/or tell us what you’d like to see changed?

O’ this one is talked about big time all over. Here at Flyer Talk and even fellow boardingarea bloggers here and here are on this one as well. For me, just make the 72 hr rule go away and I would be a happy flyer again. But that will never happen. It is a point of pride for management now.

Q25) Joel – What’s the recourse if, well in advance of a flight, Delta changes the departure time of your booked flight?

If more than 90 min change outbound or landing you can change free, money back or miles back.

Q26) Ed – Can you please explain how various fare codes can affect your ability for upgrades? For example, if I bought a K fare, under what circumstances am I allowed to upgrade with points/money? Are fare codes important if you are have elite status (silver on Delta in my case).

Another great question but no fair asking more than one question (kidding)! Upgrades are based on the fare class and your medallion level and if you have the DELTA RESERVE card as well. There is a good link here that explains all this. They even have a Medallion Upgrade Priority Calculator to show where you land on the pecking order. Try it out.

 Q27) JP2 – How do you deal with situation where the routing (e.g. LAX-SYD) has no R/T low awards at all?

Well it can be found but not much I know. This is another reason to have the highest status you can with Delta as they release more seats to DM, then PM and so on at low level. Also look outside the box. I know this is crazy but LAX-SYD I show only one seat in business direct on the 20th in low level business class. But, if look SLC-SYD I find the same seats on the 20th and 21st of Feb. Now I hope you see where I am going with this. If not please read the Points Guy post below. Find any dates that will work, load on a bunch of legs, wait for the schedule change and then pick the direct flight as the points no longer matter! Another way is V Austrailia talked about here by The Points Guy at his blog. He also talks about OPEN JAW and STOPOVERS here too.

Q28) Kay – How does Delta organize it’s boarding order for non-elites in economy? Do the people at the very back of the plane board first, or do the window seats board first? I just booked a ticket for Memorial Day travel, and I want to choose a seat that will help me avoid gate checking my bag.

Great question. Delta boards by ZONES. Business and Medallions board zone 1. If you have any DELTA AMEX cards you board zone 2. The rest board according to seats and fare class. You have plenty of time to get the card and will get 30,000 skymiles on top of that.

Q29) Aleks – Any thoughts on Amex Platinum $200 fee reimbursement strategy? I’m DL Gold for next year, and I also have the DL Plat Amex, so I rarely incur any fees on DL, since I get free checked bags, SC access, etc. And I do fly DL 90% of the time. Would you still recommend keeping DL as my selected airline for fee reimbursement? I’ve used it for onboard drink purchases and successfully convinced Amex to reimburse appx $150 in award tix fees (although this seems to be getting more difficult to do).

This one is talked about a bunch here at this Flyer Talk thread. I used mine to buy 2 $100 SW AIR gift cards but I hear that may be no more. I read that most are buying 1 day skyclub passes and giving them away etc.

Q30) John – Is the Delta reserve card worth the $450 fee for a regular delta flyer?

Maybe. If you spend big on it you can earn 40k MQM 1st year. You get better upgrades and free lounge access. If you like SKYCLUBS, and I do, then about the same price as yearly membership plus you get more perks. Also as a side note, if you use my links to get your  Delta Reserve Card  it does support the blog and I thank you so very much for your support! – René

Q31) JD – What are the benefits of Economy Comfort seats? Secondly, are they worth the extra fee?

You can read all about them here at Delta.com .Extra room and recline very nice on long flights of say 6+ hrs! Service is just as bad as any coach class seat!

Q32) Chris – My question would be is there really a benefit to being a Silver Medallion? I received this status via an AMEX transfer bonus earlier this year and while I already get free checked bags due to my Delta Amex, I don’t really see the 25k MQM’s that came with the offer that beneficial to someone that isn’t shooting for upper elite levels such as myself.

Well you do have the status this year and until FEB2013 so you are set for another 14 months at your current status. There could be time for this challenge if you want to jump on a plane and qualify for it just one international trip and you are GOLD. Try and see . Gold is very nice!

Q33) Ashley – I am delta upgraded by not by miles gold with 33k miles. Will 8k miles roll(33-25) over or will i have to start from 0 next year. Does it pay to get the delta mqm card now and get the 10k mqm or better wait until next year. will those 10k mqm count to gold qualification to make up the qualifying miles i never did or will they roll over as well from the 25k silver threshold.

I think if I understand you were gifted GOLD and now have 33k MQM’s this year. If that is the case yes 8k will rollover. If you can get 17k more by the 31st you keep your GOLD. AMEX card is one way but would have to apply ASAP and hope maybe there is time for you to get points this year! They should credit to this year per AMEX terms but be sure you confirm that with the rep when you activate the card (it should be a recorded line with AMEX). You could do that and buy 7500 MQM with current promotion and make it.

 Q34) Cory – s there any benefit to paying for access to a lounge if you only have a layover of 2 hours or less?

Don’t pay. Either find a meet-n-greet or “lurk” outside a club and ask if you can be guested in please.

Q35) TJ – Do you think the Amex Delta Companion pass is valuable? I’m not sure whether I should upgrade my Amex Delta Gold to Amex Delta Plat. One intriguing benefit is that the Amex Delta Plat’s companion pass is free to use, whereas the Amex Delta Gold charges $99 to use the pass. Depending on how easy this pass is to use, I may be more inclined to upgrade cards. ( another reader ask about if you can transfer the GOLD/PLAT/RESERVE $99/free coupons to someone else )

Yes! I have used these in the past ( the free ones from my  DELTA RESERVE card that is ). For me the 1st class tickets are too much so I use mine coach ( sorry my bride ). Also you get NO upgrades on these but if you ask the reps at the desk why you are not on the upgrade list they will often times upgrade you on these because, like everything Delta, no one knows the rules and you can use that in your favor this time. Also you can transfer them to whoever you want. Two of your friends can use them to fly if you want but you must pay for the tickets with YOUR AMEX and have them pay you back!

Q36) Trey – I see that Delta transfer bonuses seem to come up frequently. Could you please explain how often these bonuses come up and when/how frequently we can expect to see them in 2012?

Who knows with AMEX but they do them each year. Now they have gotten a little worse each year so that unfortunate trend will more than likely continue I hate to say!

Q37) Rikki – I am moving and would consider Delta for my personal travel. How often do elites get upgraded on Delta and what is the breakdown of status levels?

Ah – upgrade roulette. We all play the game. The simple answer is it depends where you fly. If you fly ATL on DIAMOND heavy routes you had better be a DM with the DELTA RESERVE card and have a Y class ticket or better! If you fly other routes like DTW-MYR you can expect 100% upgrades for any level of medallion status. On average, DM 95%, PM 85%, GM 70% and SM 50% from what I have seen from others.

Q38) Brian – Is there any websites that offer free delta miles?

Yes! Here is a link for lots of free Delta points. One of them is e-miles where you can get FREE Delta points many times a year. Depending on how many you do maybe 2000 or more per year!

Q39) goheerow – What do you recommend for families? I’m the only one who plays the miles/points game, so wife and kids have zero miles on delta since we usually fly UA/CO. I’ve got about 25k skymiles that are itching to be used, but not sure how to use them for a potential family trip. Any suggestions before they become worthless?

You are my kind of reader. Start churning credit cards my friend. I just got 170,000 in my last churn. I will pick up another 130,000 when I do my wife’s churn in January. 300,000 in a month. In 90 days I will pick up another 200-300k. This goes on and on. Work at it and look for other deals like the 25,000 point Skymall deal this month!

Q40) kyle – When does Delta release the most low level seats?

Some 331 days out. The rest now and then. Just have to keep checking. Plus others may cancel their seats and then they open up.

Thank you all so much for all these great questions. I hope this has helped you all. I plan to do these once a month and plan to add a tab at the top of the blog where I will post all these Q &A’s for all to read and search. It means so much to me to share what I have learned and to get tips from all of you! – René

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Great information here. It must have taken you a long time to put all this information together. Thanks so much. I am bookmarking this post for future reference.

  2. Sorry if I missed this, but I didn’t see it in the Points Guy blog you linked too. On awards do they allow either 2 stopovers or 1 stopover and 1 open jaw?
    Can the 2 stopovers be on the same leg, i.e. on the way to destination.

  3. sorry if I didnt explian well. I have 33k MQM and am gold thru 2013 (got it thru a credit card offer). Are there any rollover miles I get for 2012.

  4. Hi Rene: Thank you for posting answers to both of my questions (member cards and mileage rollover). This is really useful information which you’ve actually explained more clearly than even on the SkyMiles website. Thanks!

  5. Kevin Porto Reply

    I have a question for the next round of Q&A, and wasn’t sure where else to put it, so here it is:

    First, my story: I am a younger (28) Delta Platinum who utilizes the AMEX Delta reserve card and fly exclusively domestic throughout the year for work. I am also a Priority club platinum and stay on average 70-80 days a year.

    I was wondering what my best option is to book nice resorts that aren’t covered by priority club. I recently took my honeymoon in Maui for 7 days and stayed at the Grand Wailea Resort (HHonors). It was wonderful, but I had to pay for the entire stay, as I don’t have HHonors points and Priority Club’s “Hotel Anywhere” would have cost me millions of points to book the room. I am not necessarily looking to only get HHonors properties, but to be able to get decent rewards booking various high-end resorts. What would the best points option for this be?

    Thank you

    • Hi Kevin. This is a good question. This first round was just about Delta as that is my “thing”. I will look at another round where hotel etc can be in. I will add this to the list. Thanks again! – Rene

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