A 72 hr Delta Mileage Run for MQM’s on steroids what is it like?

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All the major media has been a buzz lately about mileage runs. My good friend Howie from the mega-famous Frugal Travel Guy blog did a run to Istanbul and ended up on NBC nightly news. Yours truly found a spot on businessinsider.com as one of the “greatest mileage runners“. So what is this insanity all about and like?

If you have never “done a run” I hope you will one day. They really are fun. How can living 24/7 on jets and never leaving an airport be fun? Time changes. It really does go very fast. Changing time zones this fast and then switching back compresses the day in some strange way.

I thought I would take the time to share some insights from my last run of the year. The most important bit is the value of having SKY on your boarding pass. Flights are so fully booked nowadays that if you want to find enough overhead space for your stuff, then SKY is the way to go. Zone 1 is the minimum you want to see.

Next, gosh there are a ton of “cowbells” out there (that is Diamond Medallions with their metal tags that clang around like cowbells). Next, after all the DM’s, there sure are a lot of Platinum Medallions chasing the DM’s! GM & SM will get upgrades, but just about never on the big routes.

Last year I came up with what DM, PM, GM & SM stands for. I thought about a new set when it comes to upgrades. How about this list:

  • DM = Definitely Moving-Up
  • PM = Probably Moving-Up
  • GM = Gifted Move-Up
  • SM = Seldom Moving-Up

I can tell you as I moved up from Silver to Gold to Platinum my PIT or CLE-ATL or DTW segment upgrades went from now and then to 100%. I never got a single ATL-LAX or DTW-LAX or vice versa at any level. I got close a few times at PM, but never got one other than the time I took a bump for free other than rebooking me in 1st!

I was stunned that over 16 segments almost all of them were on time, give or take a few minutes. Delta, when regionals are taken out of the equation, do a bang up job of keeping their jets flying on-time! I was most impressed by not just this, but the quality and the service from the FA’s. I even had the privilege of flying with this year’s Delta Chairman’s Club award winner Gary Taylor. What a remarkable FA that I so enjoyed talking to about his many years of flying with Delta that will soon come to an end with retirement. Thankfully there are many more top notch ones on the way to fill his shoes!

Seats were a huge deal. Economy comfort is nice, but there are many airplane types I think an exit row seat gives you a much better ride. I say this as to me max leg room is most important to me. For example, row 26 on a domestic 767 is without question the best seat on the plane. To me even better than 1st class when it comes to leg room. Same thing on the international A330-200 row 11 C&G has NO seat in front of you and you have basically unlimited legroom.

I will end with how impressed I am with the Pittsburgh airport. It is very very nice. There are a bunch of nice restaurants including one from Iron Chief Michael Symon (one of my favorites). He has a YO burger you have to try if you are ever in PIT airport. Just nummy!

I have a bunch of trips already booked for 2013 so I am sure this time next year I will be looking at a few trips and if another mistake fare pops up I will be doing another 2 or 3 day back-to-back trip! – Rene

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  1. wow what adventures you have. Do you know of a excel spread sheet blank that can be downloaded that is useful for keeping track of the churning and miles etc? thanks.

  2. Hi Rene,

    It was so nice to meet you on your recent milage run. I survived my 5 round-trips (pit-lax/sfo’s) and added 27,500 miles to my 2114 diamond qualifications. I also ran into Burj from Flyer Talk and we shared 7 or 8 flights.

    Thanks for all your great tips.
    Love Delta Points!


  3. Not on topic, but don’t know where else to ask, does the Delta Reserve Amex card still have the companion certificate benefit? It’s no longer listed when on the application link.

  4. Gotta love reading this while on an end of the year run. 3 of 4 flights upgraded. Not bad.

  5. I’m a newbie that needs 6500 MQMs to get to Gold. I’m in MSP. Any good Mileage runs the last week of the year. Could go overseas as well if it made sense to get to Platinum.

  6. Rene,
    Polishing off my final miles for my DM renewal. CHS-SFO
    I really appreciate all your advice and especially the links to lots of cool tools. I hope to run into you during one my flights.

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