A Delta Mileage Run recap – how did I do this latest round!

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Boy you learn a ton when you fly and talk to as many Delta personnel as possible. I had a twitter reader, Cheryl L. @cowgirrl3, comment the below after seeing my photo I took at the SLC airport:

Now I am very used to a “uniform” look when I’m working at my real job, computers. I have a set of long sleeve shirts with my company name on it for winter and similar logo short sleeve ones for summer. Basically I wear the same thing every day for “work”. I have a bunch of Delta Points shirts too and I wear them whenever I fly. Why? In a geeky way I think it is kinda kool and for “work” reasons it opens doors and questions come up and I have a chance to “chat up” Delta personnel from FA’s to Redcoats to front line agents. All love to chat and talk Delta. Oh how I love it!

I don’t believe in silly things like fate, but I have to tell you I was not pleased to get on a CRJ and find the above. Readers know I despise CRJ’s and blogged about their demise on the way nearly a year ago. I long for the day I never ever have to get on a 40/50 seat bird in my life again. So starting with a missing tray table, and the only thing holding the sides from falling down and becoming a complete safety risk to me and my seatmate was a tiny piece of duct tape. Oh Delta, how long will you put up with this kind of airline flying with your name on the side of the planes?

So first let’s see how I did. I paid for the flight from SBN to PIT with a $400 voucher from my last run so I put the rest, $5.85, on my AMEX Reserve card to get 2x Delta Points so that is AOK. I stayed at the Four Points Sheraton PIT and will NOT be back again (post on the way later) and have canceled my night before my last run of the year that I was planning on staying again. I booked the two runs for $137 each, but paid for both of them with one $400 voucher from my January bump in Florida. I was at first set to fly:

sbn-atl-pit – repositioning day

pit-dtw-lax-jfk-pit day one

pit-atl-lax-cvg-pit day two

pit-atl-sbn – back home on day two also

I almost did none of the above. I did day one as planned. Day two, I changed free under the Sandy free change rule. I changed to pit-msp-slc-lax-atl-pit. I then used a SDC to extend my stay in SLC so Steve and I could both enjoy lunch and go snipe hunting (AKA “OTHER office supplies” field trip). Then, my ATL flight was oversold. JOY! I took a $400 bump and was put, again, in Y class, so was upgraded on LAX-MSP and same thing on MSP-PIT. A good start to my run.

Day two started leisurely around noon and even better. I got a quick chair massage (they take Delta meal vouchers btw) and had a Yingling beer at T.G.I. Friday’s just across from my gate so I could stalk it for when it opened up.

As soon as I saw a rep there, I put myself on the bump list in #1 position. It did not look like I was needed until a Redcoat said we need help, but they only offered $200. What? No thanks! But I told him I would be HAPPY to bump for FREE if I could get a Y class rebook on the flights I was moved to. He said since you are being so nice and bumping for FREE, I will just rebook you in 1st class. Uh, OK! SOLD! So, I was booked on all 4 of the MR #2 in 1st and the ATL-LAX was a BE (Business Elite) configured bird. They ended up short staffed due to the bigger plane, but it was nice to get the old style BE seat instead of the std domestic 1st class seat. Food was nice and it felt like an international flight!

I land in LAX and go right to the Skyclub for a shower (tip take the stairs much faster). Oh was that nice after this much flying. For those who do not know, showers are free and everything you need is in there. Shampoo, tooth brush, hair brush, razor kit etc etc. I always leave a tip when I leave as I appreciate the cleaning crews working all day long, flyer after flyer. If you are not enjoying the Skyclubs when you travel, you are missing out big time!

I have at long last learned from my last trips to go to the gate very early and not just stay in the Skyclub as long as I possibly can. I was already in 1st and did not want to give this up even for another voucher, but wanted to see. I asked the rep:

Me – Are you oversold.

Rep – YES! By 6, do you want to volunteer?

Me – YES! But I want to be in 1st on whatever flight you put me on.

Rep – I can only put you in the same class you are on in this flight

Me – OH. I am in 1st on this flight.

Rep – Great, then sure we can do that. How about  LAX-DTW it leaves 15 min after this one.

Me – OK great, so $400 and I have to wait 15 min. OK!  Can you pull me now since that flight leaves soon?

Rep – Yes here is your ETV and your new boarding passes.

At this point, after almost 48 hours of flying, I am feeling a bit stupid and sleep deprived, but cannot stop smiling. I have taken 3 bumps in 2 days, scored $800 in ETV’s and 4 free 1st class upgrades. This has been a fun run. I have spent one of the ETV’s already for my SBN-DTW-PIT repositioning flights for my last run in a bit and paid just a bit more as I wanted to test how a “K” class fare, one level over the LUT class, will affect my position on the upgrade list. I should be higher than (edit: everyone but) Diamonds in that bucket so it will be fun and was worth $65 all in over the ETV for the test.

All in all I took 13 flights. Three were CRJ’s. Six of the other ten I was in 1st class. Again, the total I paid for this two day run was $274 with Delta’s money (plus the repositioning flights with Delta’s money too). I hope you are all seeing the possibilities of a good mileage run and bumping when doing so.

I do have some data points about bumping. It would seem, since I am only going on observed data, that Delta CORP is pushing the $200 vouchers. So many times I heard we are oversold and you can get $200 like the ATL-LAX flight that I said no to giving up my seat. I did suggest to the agent I would give mine up for $400, but I would need 1st class on next flight and she said NO to both of these requests so I took the flight and was happy I did (I did find this trash can kinda funny and summed up my feeling of this gate agent).

Many times when I checked in online or at a kiosk I was electronically asked if I want to volunteer to give up my seat and to bid, I always pick $400 as this is the lowest number worth a bump to me, but nothing trumps the gate agent hand writing your name as the 1st one to call if needed. While they do see the electronic volunteer list, in practice they do not use it and will stick to the $400 or $200 number.

So there you are. This has been an interesting and educational run! I have my last run soon, also making time for trips to Sweden and Grand Cayman to end the year. This has been another awesome year as a flyer and will have an astounding amount of points and status and rooms from card offers this year as well. Gosh it is fun to do what we do! – René

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16 comments

  1. Wow. Amazing. I wish someone like you was doing the same thing with united or American. Curious why the loyalty to delta. Is it mainly that ur at a hub bc everywhere I read ppl are saying delta sky miles aren’t worth investing towards.

  2. @Ryan – IMO Delta is the best airline in the air! Yes Skymiles can be hard to redeem, but as you can see on the blog, there are ways around that and you can do so many things with Skymiles you can not do with any other airline. Plus, all the perks, rollover MQM’s, @DeltaAssist, the Delta Phone app, the Delta credit card bonus MQM’s.. I could go on all day long! – Rene

  3. Interesting post. Thanks. Oh and add four points Peoria Illinois to your “do not stay” list. Not the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at but not worth the effort either unless you are really attached to 1981 decor.

  4. The 4 Points at the Philadelphia airport was pretty nice. I would stay there again. Cash and points FTW

  5. So, can’t wait ’til you post how many sky miles you got and how much you ultimately paid per mile to earn them. Sounds like they paid you instead to take miles off their hands! LOL

  6. Rene…what was the date and flight number of that CRJ flight? That cabin environment is unacceptable and I’d like to follow up with the carrier. Thx…Chris-

  7. As a PM you will not be higher on the upgrade list than any DM on any fare class other than full Y.

  8. cool! thanks for responding. I’ve started to research more of your “Essentials” and also review the elite status with Delta. Am I missing something with elite status? I see that if you have the highest levels you get 4-6 system upgrades, etc. But I don’t usually buy my international flights but use award flights. Maybe I fly 2-3 times a year domestically. Do you think elite status would still be worth it in my case?

  9. @Ryan – great I hope you enjoy the blog. Now coming from other airlines, you need to learn that one of Delta’s biggest faults is the SWU program. They are very bad and hard to use. Not worthless but it takes work! Most elites pick another “gift” for their status award. But, Silver Medallion is simple to reach and Gold+ give you a ton of perks and some upgrades. Platinum and higher and you will see a bunch of free domestic upgrades. Delta does not give free upgrades on INT flights.

  10. I am now addicted to this site and open it first thing every day. a bit of a newbie to the coolness at 67 yrs young. my question is why do you do the mega run in nov and dec which can be the expensive and busy time of year instead of jan when it is cheaper and easier? Seems if you got the status you wanted at the beginning of the year it would last longer. Is it because you assume they will over book and give you a better chance at a bump? or because you wont know what you will need till end of year? thanks for all you do for us. and i never fly any thing but Delta just dont get to go often enough and have never had anything but kindness and concern from any delta person ever. I dont know how they do it. were you suggesting carrying around say starbuck cards to just kind of hand out as tips? before of after the upgrade? smile…

  11. @Christine – wow thanks, and I think I need a few posts just to answer all your questions 😉
    Ah, my timing on my runs. I wish I had a grand plan and had it all worked out 01JAN each year. Truth be told, when the sub $200 sales came out I booked like crazy and those plus a AMEX Reserve and I will be in much better shape this next round/year. As far as gift cards, no, they are after the fact with good service. Not just for upgrades, as they are tightly controlled, but for everything good anyone Delta does along the way! – Rene

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