So is it worth giving up 2+ days of your life to earn MQM’s & Delta Platinum Status? Part 1

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This has been a unique week. Has it been fun? Yes. Was it work? Yes. What it hard work? No. Would I do it again? (Well since I have a few more of these runs booked) Yes! Would I book this again next year? Maybe!

How is that for an intro? I know DeltaPoints readers are at all levels of travel experience so I will try to keep this simple but some of this will come across as, “what? why? how?”. I also will toss in some personal psychological musings now and then that hit me during the run.

Let’s start with some of the technical stuff first as I have had many questions on that. This one was an add-on after the $137 killer deal that I booked the other runs with. It was still a good price but I totally get the argument that compared to getting the AMEX Reserve card this was a waste of time since it also gets you 10,000 MQM’s with your first dollar spent (to be fair I plan to do that too so I still needed/wanted this).

I booked PIT-ATL-LAX-ATL-PIT but thanks to the mighty schedule change rule, and calling and asking for a change to SBN, was told, NO, but pick any airport in Ohio (I loved that response btw). So, I picked the closest one, Cleveland. I did two days back to back. The total cost for the AIR part was $338.40 so my net for the 10,000 MQM’s was 3.39 CPM. My gas/toll/parking price added almost $100 to the bill but I also netted 12,504 RDM’s so that has value too of at least $125 (I value my Skymiles at 2-3 cents each for Sweden trips in business class). I also will net some nice Skybonus points on top of all this. My next runs were cheaper and I used a $400 ETV so my real cost will be MUCH lower for those. While we are talking about cost, I parked at the Marriott CLE and you can just park anywhere in their lot, walk in, tell them you want to park-n-fly, and it costs just $5/day. I did tip the driver $2 so all-in $6/day cost! They give you a business card and you call the moment you land and they are then waiting to pick you up. Great service!

I have been struggling how to cover all the points and not make this post ridiculously long. Today I will cover the journey and tomorrow some things I thought I knew, but now have confirmed by my experience and also confirmed with my Delta corporate contact regarding Delta’s selling of upgrades etc.

This may come as shock to many of you but I dropped down to Silver status at the end of March, not February, this year (I will give a free amenity coupon to the first one to correctly guess how this happened). My wife is Platinum now and I always want one of us to have that level of status each year. So, next year is my turn. In 1 month I will move from Silver to Gold to Platinum with flights and my next 15,000 AMEX Reserve dump of MQM’s. Thus, my upgrades were just about what I expected. I scored 2 of 8. One of them was in the 1 day upgrade window (the last leg of the trip – thank you Delta) one was battlefield upgrade. I was “told” over the PA I would get one more but it was an “oopsee” so the rep gave me my own row of economy comfort to make up for it and the FA’s were also very nice to me after they found out what happened. I was totally fine with it and really it was funny. I did not expect any on the ATL-LAX or LAX-ATL and on one of the segments I was 80th of 84 with 1 seat open for battlefield upgrade. My guess is I was basically 4 ahead of all the other T-class FO’s with no AMEX Reserve card!

On to my seats. For anyone who thinks FO is worthless I laugh in your face. Here is why. IMO, if you want leg room (WAY MORE THAN 1st class on this aircraft), then I had the best seat on the 767-300 domestic product hands down. I mean look a the photo above and below here.

As a Silver I picked row 26 each trip. 25 AB & FG is not bad bulkhead legroom but 26 AB & FG are the best as full recline (slider seat) and both a seat back tray table AND an armrest one. IFE, GoGo WiFi, USB power in the seats, near lav – just wow! I would pick these over EC seats if you want legroom. The only negative is they are a bit hard on the tushy! SeatGuru says the middle bulkhead is good too. I would say NO and not just for the reason below.

I spent a lot of time in Skyclubs. I went straight for the new F concourse Skyclub for my showers as it is all new and nice.

One big gripe was that I could not find a hair dryer in the room. In LAX they have them on the wall just like hotels but not in the F. What is up with that Delta?

It was fun, after 1.5 days of running, to look up and see all these people, each and every one of them on a phone, tablet, PC and the like. I saw only ONE person reading a real, paper magazine. Times have changed.

One day I went to Chili’s on the upper level of concourse A, right next to the Skyclub that no one seems to know about, and had a killer lunch of the appetizer sampler menu and a priceless view of the airport. Each bite was better than the next and I cannot wait to have it again.

But I will stick to water and have my beer in the Skyclub as over $8.00 for a beer? C’mon Chili’s give me a break!

I also mentioned money well spent. Since I got such a good deal, and my back was a bit sore from so much time in coach, I splurged on a table massage at the XpresSpa just below the Chili’s and Skyclub in “A”. It was amazing and took away all the pain. I will always plan for 3-4 hour layovers for this 45/min treatment when running from now on and really should add that into my CPM but maybe that is just silly as I would have one at home anyway even when not flying. I digress – sorry!

I also wanted to talk bumps for just a second. Delta does not have a “give up your seat” that can be put in for the total trip. You must ask at the gate and sometimes if you use the kiosk at check-in or throughout the airport you will get the bid for giving up your seat (that just means offer $400 and you will be on the list maybe). Both my LAX flights were VERY oversold. I was promised I would be needed – 100% – by the agent on trip one but at the last second put on the plane. Result was my laptop was no where near my seat (I have a complaint in to Delta about this). The second time, I again offered and came to the gate 1 hr before flight. The lady in front of me (grrrrrrr) had a party of 4 and they all got $400 each. (grrrrrr). I know I have publicly said I will only take cash from now on, and I stand by that, except for when running as a rebook to “Y” will just about guarantee an upgrade for me and that alone is worth the bump! So if you want to bump, be sure to get to the gate EARLY and be first in line!

There was also a reason for this trip other than just points and miles as I did meet a friend in LAX but will keep that private until a later date. I promise to tell you about that one day, just not now. How do I feel after a total of 6hrs driving and 24 hrs flying? Tired. Exhausted? No. Was it fun? You bet. The funny thing to me was I had planned to get a TON of work done in Skyclubs and on the 5 hr transcon segments. Even the CLE-ATL was 1+hr long. The reality was it went by so fast that I got almost nothing done I wanted. I only had time for one film and most of the time in the Skyclub I relaxed and did a few e-mails and such.

So what do you think. Would you try one of these 2 day runs? Be nice in your comments but am I crazy? Leave any kind of comment – ON THE BLOG – for a chance to win 1 of 4 Delta Points luggage tags and a Delta amenity coupons (I will use random.org tomorrow some time)! – René

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67 comments

  1. I totally understand. I did a similar overnight mileage run to and from LAX earlier this year to keep pace for hitting Platinum by year end.

  2. At 3.39 CPM that was a great MR. I made a mistake by not getting in on the PIT sale since PIT is an easy 5 hr. drive from DTW.

  3. Look forward to hearing the “rest of the story” tomorrow. Mileage runs sound like they could be a lot of fun, but they do me no good as a segment qualifier–I’d have to do a couple just to get my mileage up to Gold Medallion even though I’m already qualified on segments! Sigh, maybe next year.

  4. If you have the time, a run can be fun. Especially if it gives you an excuse to meet up with friends.

  5. Reading this makes me glad I travel between US, Europe, and Africa for work and don’t have to put in these crazy trips only to retain or gain status. A for effort and great blog!

  6. Ha! I’ve got this week a trip to GRU, and instead of HSV-DTW-GRU, I worked out HSV-ATL-BWI-JFK-DTW-GRU to get an extra 1K MQM’s. And it was $50 cheaper than the other flight. 🙂

  7. I have my first ever MR in 3 weeks and am excited. I hope for full flights, vouchers and extra MQMs. Re the March timing, were you gifted status such that you get a full year from the gift?

  8. I enjoyed this post. I always wondered what people did during MRs. I am willing to give a MR a try. I am new to this whole thing and on the run to Silver status by EOY. I WILL make it!! 🙂

  9. Yes I would, my wife and I just did the MKE/JFK/SJU/SJU/JFK/SFO/ATL/MKE 3 weeks ago. We had a great time and got almost 10k MQM’s for $339. We did the night life in SJU and went to AC when in NYC and sightseeing in SFO all in 2 1/2 days. We also got upgraded 3 times as FO’s. Like you we were told we would be bumped because we were 1-2 on list and 10 over on the JFK/SFO flight but no luck. Now to decide wether to get back to Gold or roll over 20k? We had been Gold for 3 years prior but rolled over 20k this year and probably will do the same unless something like this comes around again.

  10. @Gavin – you are the winner! I will contact you for the free “extra” coupon.
    .
    Here is how it worked:
    .
    Once CO left Delta I then matched my Delta PM with them (since I can now again match United if I want). Then, KLM had a free match program so I matched them from CO (at that point NON-Skyteam). KLM status expires in MARCH rather that in FEB like Delta so I got to stay Skyteam PLAT until April 1st! 😉

  11. Hello. I’m new at this. Can you please tell me what a “battlefield upgrade” is? I’m very interested in learning more as I’ve not done one, nor do I know if I want to do one.

  12. I have done this many times before myself. Couple of the craziest was a PIT-JFK-LAX-SYD-LAX-JFK-PIT back when they ran the double MQM promo. I was on the ground in SYD for 2 hours (all economy, of course!). Another crazy was PIT to SEA to PIT to SEA to PIT to LGB to PIT (can’t remember the routings). I actually preferred the SYD run instead (even though I was upgraded on every leg of the other one) since I got to rest for quite a while and get some stuff done. Good luck on the rest of your trips! I will be doing the same thing again in January/February.

  13. I enjoy mr they can be.very relaxing. An excuse to catch up on reading if you are not on wifi all the time. Next one ill do with just a book and no carryon at all.

  14. Is it worth it to try these mileage runs just to get up to silver? I’m somewhat close and am curious.

  15. Great 2 part description… I’ve been hunting for my first ever run from DC area.. no luck yet, but this gives me motivation!

  16. I would do this for sure! And just when I think I know a fair amount about flying and Delta, you teach me a ton more! Thx!

  17. Great post. Keep them coming. Just started really getting into mileage runs, and counting MQMs. It really does become an addiction quickly,

  18. You said if you get bumped you will go for cash. I assume instead of a voucher. Is this a new option? How does it work?

  19. wow, that is crazy. I would be tire, and it’s hard to do it in RDU. I wonder about the fall back in March…Is it because it was spend??

  20. I’d have probably broken up all that flying with some sightseeing, instead of just mileage running. However I do get a fair share of voluntary bumps.

  21. Great blog. Would you please define a battlefield upgrade?

    Also, help me understand please from a ‘mileage run for rookies’ perspective how one is to identify these MRs like yours and others point out? What’s the process for locating one and booking one? My experience always has me searching on delta.com for r/t flights for business. Am I to plug in different locations via the search engine via trial and error to identify a great MR value like yours? Sorry – but I don’t get it (i get the value – just not how to identity and book).

    I Have been GM or PM for years via straight bookings on the site for work but have never understood HOW the MRs are identified, priced and obtained.

    Thanks in advance for bearing with the rookie!

  22. I certainly would do one of these runs, it sounds like fun. If I had a good opportunity I would do it now to try to get a higher status for next year. I am Exec Plat with AA and after the horrors of the last few weeks I am switching back to Delta.

  23. We must have passed each other in the air at some point. Wife and I just did SFO-JFK-SJU-JFK-SFO and each went 4/4 sitting in J on “T” fares (me PM, her GM). Also both got bumped on the final leg & scored $800. What I call a perfect weekend.

    Having done this game for several years though I don’t think we would ever do what you did. Much prefer to stop for a night in SJU as it feels much more like a mini-vacation. Get to see some things, have a nice dinner and got 6 hrs on the beach.

  24. You are NOT crazy, I did 3 LAX to PIT MR’s this year and had a ball. Since I didn’t really need to be anywhere, it was ok if a flight was delayed or if I got bumped. I want to do more (from LAX to SJU, JFK, etc) but it’s necessary to balance spouse/home life. But there will be other times. And I want to use this story as inspiration to get to top status with Delta! I got silver this year, plan to use my rollovers to get to gold quickly next year. If I find the right MR, I will just go for top! Thanks again for the inspiration and insight!!

  25. Nope I am fortunate enough to hit DM through work trips (on segments, so I am on a TON of Delta flights every year!). I like having the weekends at home, and plus, I get to gift my wife Gold status.

  26. @James – Have you priced a INT ticket to Sweden in BIZ class from SBN? Runs $2000-$4000! Thus my value.
    @Bgiagg – NWA did soft landings and Delta may have but no more since roll-over started. (I have been told by some flyers if you are inside 100 miles they will bump you but that is almost nothing)
    @Silvia – it is in the FED rules. If you are FORCED to give up your seat you can demand CASH. DL would have to write a check. Now if you offer to give up your seat, then they can pay with ETV’s!
    @YM – read the blog many times a day as I will post a deal as soon as I find it. Also join the text alert group.
    @Erica – just keep looking for deals. Keep in mind BOOK and think later. With Delta you have 24hrs to cancel! NEVER CALL just book and then work it out!
    @NYC Plat Guy – A battlefield upgrade is and upgrade at the gate compared to inside the 5/3/1 day window for medallions
    @Ryan – No as of today I am only Silver. My wife is PM. I will be by this time next week GOLD. Two weeks back to PM for me 🙂
    @MAC – you will see me in my Delta Points shirt and luggage tags – say “hi” if you see me in a Skyclub everyone! – Rene

  27. This sounds like tons of fun—if only to dream about the places I will go with the miles I am earning! 🙂

  28. Just keep telling yourself…i’m not crazy…i’m not crazy…i’m not too crazy…really!…this is crazy(but i like it).

  29. I am new to reading your blog and am enjoying it. I am very interested in the topics covered. However, as a relative newbie, it is frustrating when I don’t know what the acronyms mean! I can’t imagine that I am alone in this. I would really appreciate it if you would limit the use of acronyms to the most obvious. Thanks!

  30. I know the feeling…”MUST” have more miles…my family says it’s my addiction to AIRLINE [edit].

  31. I’ve done it before, and probably will do it again if I need to maintain status. Currently only ~5200MQM away from Plat so unless some last minute work travel pops up, I will definitely need to find a MR in the next couple months

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