10,000 Miles, 8 segments – what I learned about Delta! Part 2

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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.

At this point I will end the year with 115,000 MQM’s including a Personal Reserve card before year end and roll-over 40,000 MQM’s. Just about perfect as it would only take me 10k for GOLD the following year or, if I want to push it, 35k more for PM until FEB2015! I will make GM without question from flying and I will not allow myself to drop down to FO again unless the draconian rumored revenue based system materializes next year.

So on to what I touched on both Friday & Saturday. Delta has recently started selling upgrades at the gate. Now if you have not looked at yesterday’s post please do that now as you will understand more. The flight where they sold an upgrade I cleared as a silver on a T-class fare in the upgrade window. I hope you see my point. Plus, the basketball player who did pay for the upgrade, $75 for the 1+ hr flight,  he and his wife did NOT have any status with Delta (yeah I snooped and looked at his boarding pass that he held for the flight while he slept).

So is Delta selling a seat that a medallion should have got? I have been assured by the Delta corp. rep that this will NOT happen. You may be yelling at the screen: “this has happened to me!” I ask, was it on an international flight? Keep in mind we medallions don’t get free upgrades here. If there ever is a case where you have not been upgraded, domestically, and they sell an upgrade, you had better check you were on the upgrade list. If lastly you know of a case where a non-medallion could buy an upgrade over you as a medallion, show me and I will let corp. know. The standing policy is to only sell when ALL medallions have cleared first. To me this is just smart business. I hate to see business seats on any flight go empty as THAT is revenue lost to our airline.

Next on to the impact of the group sales change to MQM’s earnings on flyers. I sat behind the comic Steve White from a Carnival crusie ship on his way back home (yeah funny I know). Carnival pays for Steve to fly back home and they have a negotiated rate much lower than the public prices for you and me and keep in mind they fly staff back home all over the planet all the time. Steve overheard me talking to my seat mate about points and miles (shocking I know) and started asking questions. He had been hit on his latest Skymiles statement with the lower MQM’s and he did not think THAT was funny at all (oh I could do this all day). I talked to him about the change and here is the bottom line. I told him he could negotiate to have Carnival buy a fare class that will earn full MQM’s for him.

I also suggested he get a Skybonus account so he can earn some more points that way. So, I still stand by the statement that MOST will not be affected by the group sales change, but oh I am shaking while I type this if this is the shape that the new rumored revenue based Skymiles program will be. I think it will hurt Delta more than they have ever dreamed if they force this on us. We will see.

Next on to a few more fun topics. I saved my GoGo info on my laptop. Every single time I went to a Skyclub I would connect, on the ground, to a plane nearby with GoGo apparently still on. I did not try to log in with my info to see if I could (now I wish I had) to see if it was in fact active while on the ground. If it is, it could be a way to get wifi in the airport when you are not in a Skyclub. If anyone has tried this let me know as officially GoGo should just turn on and off at 10k!

More musings and bits. I got my GOES free from when I had my Platinum Membership Rewards card as they rebate you back the $100 fee. The one day I left the airport to meet my friend I had to go back into the airport. The line was long. This trip I used my GOES ID card for everything and also I have entered all my GOES info into my record at So, when I hand the TSA “kid” (he had to be all of 20) my card and boarding pass I get 3 beeps. Then the interchanges goes like this:

TSA kid: Did you hear that
Me: Yes
TSA kid: Do you know how lucky you are
Me: Oh
TSA kid: Yes you get to go that way
Me: OK thanks

I smile at the little TSA twerp and went on my way. However, I wanted to say (but DID NOT):

“I get how all this works and btw, you dimwit, I  handed you my GOES ID card! Don’t you think I already have all my TSA PRE info in at”

Oh the things that pop into your head some days after 36 hrs of non-stop flying! Naturally I kept all that in my head so I am not sitting and blogging in an LA jail right now as that would have been much less fun to write about!

I end this little adventure with many of the same feelings I had going in. Those who work for our beloved airline, from gate agents, to FA’s to flight crews to you name it, they are all great! I, like most of you, dislike the TSA more and more each trip. I love airports and we all should have lounge access (hello AMEX Reserve card) and spend time NOT running from gate to gate but enjoying the time between flights. I start trip two later this week then get some time off. When I land I will be GOLD Medallion. In two weeks I get my AMEX MQM dump. Then after another run in November, when I land, I will be Platinum. Thus, during my last run, my trip to Sweden, my trip to Grand Cayman, my trip to Denver, my trip to Utah – Lisa & I will BOTH be Platinum Medallion. Our trips to Sweden in spring and summer are already in biz on points so all good there and I booked them with MY miles so I will get free changes all I want very soon (I booked as FO but once I hit PM I get free changes 🙂 ). Am I the only one who plans his trips a full year out? – Rene


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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 post. Your not the only one that plans trips a year out btw. Biggest problem for me is after planning and securing great trips that far out I get bored and wish I had more planning or tricking to do to get other cool place. Maybe I should have been a travel agent 🙂

  2. Connecting to GoGo on the ground will not work. It is often a problem in SC because the WiFi has gotten so crappy that my computer connects to GoGo first (strongest signal).

  3. I am a little confused with something. You say you have 115 MQMs and 40 rollover for next year? If 125K make you Diamond arent you Diamond right now? Appreciate any explanation of this? What are the 40 rollover from then?


    • @robertw – I am not diamond now. I am silver (till next week the gold). I DO NOT want to make diamond. I wand to get as close as I can without hitting it so I can roll-over almost 50k to start next year as a Platinum and then re-qualify for GOLD or PLAT for the next year as well ASAP. Clear?

  4. I too need to do a long haul to earn the rest of my medallion points. How did you find such a cheap ticket? I’m looking for a roundtrip ticket, I recently found FL to HNL to get 9700 MQM for $570.

  5. This is an amazing year spend. I’ve question, if I want to fly summer of 2013 from RDU to SGN how would I get the max of it??

    Working in the airport sound so amazing, how does one get a job as a cashier at the airport or an agent at flight’s counter?

  6. Are you a PM? I’m confused when you say you cleared as a Silver in T class?

  7. @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

  8. What will you choose when you reach PM? I just made PM 2 days ago on our trip mco-atl-smf.
    My husband will be 1K mqm short of making FO after today’s flight SMf-Msp-mco.

    Is it worth it to give him FO status? Can it go to gold? I have 15 mqm coming next month from Amex reserve and most likely another 15 k by year end that I can give him also.
    Thank you so much.

    • @Colleen – keep in mind gift FO does NOT gift them 25k MQM’s so if at ZERO they would still have to fly or get 25k MQM to keep silver. Most years I choose either 20k Skymiles or the $200 ETV. But this year I plan to give away FO to a reader as a gift! – Rene

  9. I found out the hard way that you can ONLY collect one sign up bonus from AMEX in a 12 month period. Some readers might benefit from knowing this. YOU can sign up for more cards but you will not receive the sign up bonus.

  10. Delta sometimes during the last few days before a flight will sell first class seats for only 50.00 more than the coach fare. I know they are trying to get all the revenue they can, but this practice certainly lowers the number of available seats for medallion upgrades. I would certainly pay 50.00 more any day for FC. In fairness to the program it seems they should keep a reasonable spread between FC and coach. If all they want is an extra 50.00, why not offer the upgrades for medallions at that point for 50.00?

  11. Delta to use “Revenue-Based Status?” Let’s look at a couple of things here…
    First, the many Award Programs out there are intended to Reward airline-loyal, Frequent Flyers and as one way to stimulate sales of Profit-Generating seats. Those prescious-metal grades of ‘status’ are not – and never were intended to reward PAX who fly at the least possible cost -or- perish the throught – acquire points/miles though programs other than butt-in-seat miles on a specicif airline. Two decades of expansion of these programs has been an expensive marketing tool for some airlines and one that has cost them plenty. In many cases, they have been far too generous, realized it a bit too late and then drastically cut back on available award seats. In the end, award seats should only be ‘awarded’ for seats that cannot be sold before a given flight blocks out. I suspect that most airlines would love to get out of the award seat business, at least when the award is based on anything other than Big Fat Revenue Dollars. I’d expect even more trimming to come, because all major carriers need to do it. And yes, a lot of the hobby players in the miles/points games are going to be shut out.
    WHen load factors moved from the 60% -70% level to the 90% range, the number award seats dropped. Do the Math. They no longer need to reward most customers with anything and many carriers regret having opened multiple tiers of ‘benefits’ programs in recent years. By one estimate, less than 30% of a given airline’s active miles/points program members are considered to be significant revenue generators for that airline.
    In the months and years to come, I suspect that a lot of airlines will migrate to revene-based ‘award’ and benefits programs and intentionally exclude the hobbiests that clog up their reservations systems with 30 or 40 reservation attempts necesary for a mileage run trip, one that typically flyes the seat at break-even cost or even a loss. Despite some polite lip service, none of the major carriers really want the hobbyies mileage runners on their award status books – becasue those experts do not generate much revenue and little or any real profit for the seat-miles flown. I suspect that most of the US’s major carriers will quietly migrate to an awards program that is +/- similar to United’s top, rather private, by invitation only program. Anyone will recognize that those few high-end programs and based on a long term history of frequency, gross revenue and yes, even flying frequently on a few high-profit routes. For the relatively few genuine frequent flyers, those who do generate some real profits for an airline, a few perks are appropriate. For those who [edit] the award systems by acquiring significant poine/miles, without generating revenue – and PROFIT for the airlines, I think you can expect some major changes. This thing h as gotten waaaay out of hand and any marketing benefit to the airline has been buried in administrative costs, excessive reservations processing costs and the fees paid to distantly related alliance carriers for first class seats that have no relationship to routes that the customer usually flies.
    There was a big shake out with the deregulation process and the newer alliances and Open Skies programs. Periodic econnomic issues in more recent years, bankruptsies, mergers etc. have also had a hand in t he process. I think the next step is to sereiously curb the ‘status’ and ‘award’ programs such that only those frequent flyers who generate a measurable PROFIT for a given carrier will continue to receive bonus benefits of real value. Those who collect points/miles as a hobby will be SOL. It is coming. So, for those who have largeg accumulations of miles, but who do not really generate much revenue (or measurable profit) for a carrier, use them or lose them; you world is going to change and that ‘freebie’ is going to go away.

    • @Cook – Well I disagree with most of the “book” you posted. The most important point you are missing is the value and profit FF miles make airlines. The balance will be keeping on the hook the profit element of the program (people) and yet not making it so bad that the income source drys up!

  12. Your description of the TSA agent had me laughing out loud! I use my GOES card as my ID for air travel. Sometimes I’ve handed the card to the TSA agent and I would swear that they hadn’t seen the card before! One even flipped it around and looked at both sides.

  13. The GA will offer to sell upgrades only when there aren’t enough medallions on the upgrade list to fill the F cabin. My understanding is that only higher fare classes (K+?) are eligible to pay for a domestic 1st class upgrade.

  14. When a GA knows that they have more than enough seats to clear all of the remaining medallions on the ASL, they will sometimes offer UGs for sale at the gate before they have processed all BFUGs. This could lead to erroneous claims of upgrade “shenanigans”, when in reality your upgrade is safe and there is no need to panic.

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