The math & logic of the Mileage Run – a running total & 10K+10K AMEX

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This Wednesday I start a 3 day mileage run. I fly nonstop for 48 hours and then get a night off and return home. Is flying this much a little crazy? Oh sure. Then again, let me ask you this, on a “day off” what will you do? Maybe sit in your comfy chair, have a beer or drink, watch a movie, maybe spend some time on your tablet on the web? Ya know what, that is what I will be doing too (when I get an upgrade that is)!

That is the “fun run” part of the trip. I do have some work things I am doing too, but I wanted to take the time to break down my mileage runs for the year. I intend to keep a running total of all the costs, MQM’s earned, as well as Skymiles earned. This way, as you track my year, you can see my logic. When a bump comes along, I will NOT pull that off the cost as I do that when I spend it later.

This trip looks like this so far:

  • 12 Legs total
  • Total MQM’s earned will be 15,000+
  • Total RDM’s as a PM will be 30,000+
  • Total cost was $635 all-in flight costs
  • CPM is thus 4.2
  • RDM value at least $300 thus real net CPM is thus down to 2.2

So, just think about this raw fact. If I can get just one single bump on any of the 12 flights for $400, to me, I am making $65 on this mileage run. That would pay for the gas to drive to MKE from SBN. I do expect at least 1 bump as many of the flights are very full. To earn 15k MQM for just my time is a huge win to me.

Keep in mind I already have 10K MQM I rolled over from my AMEX card last November. This  Delta AMEX Reserve card  is NOW also giving you, if you have not had the card for 365+ days, 10,000 MQM’s AND 10,000 RDM’s with your first purchase.

Next, I have my Istanbul run where I picked up 12K MQM’s at a cost of $396 or a CPM of 3.3. So, for the year, I have 27k from running, $1,031 spent, net CPM 3.8 and have earned 54,000 Skymiles.

The week after my run my AMEX statement will close and another 15,000 MQM’s will post for spending $30,000 for the year on that card and fittingly I will cross the Diamond Medallion threshold from my AMEX card, NOT from flying! I hope you fully understand how great I think that is (purist’s hate this, but I see it as jealousy so that is fine). Thus, the rest of my trips I will earn 125% bonus Skymiles on all the rest of my paid for trips.

How about upgrades? I look forward to reporting on my upgrade success. It will be a fun personal gauge of how things go at PM & DM and days of the week. So how do I look?

Of the 12 flights, 6 have cleared at the 5 day window ( it is 5+ for DM, 5 for PM, 3 for GM & 1 for FO). On Wednesday 3 of 4. On Thursday 2 of 4 and on Friday 1 of 4 (you see a trend). Also, the trans-cons that cleared were red-eyes, not the daytime flights. Now it will be up to “battlefield” upgrades for the rest. I expect all the non trans-cons to clear, maybe missing just one. The trans-cons, well, maybe 1 or 2, maybe. I see the need for Diamond Status. To score trans-cons, both in the upgrade window and at the gate I need DM status. Also if you are a GM or FO flyer, you can see as I have talked about before that if you want to score upgrades you need to fly both non-peak days and flights DM & PM don’t want to fly.

I will be tweeting all along this long run and if you want to share with the fun be sure to follow along on twitter! – René

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  1. If you already discount the value of the RDMs then what difference does the CPM make versus just the absolute cost at that point? In other words, once you’ve accounted for the $300 in award points who cares how many miles you fly or the per mile cost above and beyond the value of the RDMs?

  2. A newbie question here. what is an RDM and how are they useful.

    I have been a Delta FF for about 10 years and only this year have started to travel a lot. I have 137k miles and just made Silver. I have 2 upcoming trips that will get me to Gold by August. I have 190,000 Amex rewards that I plan to convert to Delta Skymiles. My goal is to score a RTW in January in Business. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  3. Hey Rene-

    The MQMs you earn from the credit cards, are they redeemable as well or just count towards status? Thx!

  4. Wednesday? I’m making an SFO-MKE run Tuesday. Missing by 1 day, maybe I’ll catch you in a club on a run someday. Bon Voyage!

  5. @Wandering Aramean – good question. For me, the RDM’s are a byproduct for getting the MQM’s. Sure they have value, and do offset the “net” real cost of the trip when I cash them in. The same could go for bumps. If you wanted to, you could, for personal math, lump the value of bumps and RDM’s on the current trip and adjust what your real cost to you was. Bottom line, it is all about as many MQM’s as possible for the lowest purchase price!
    @Starr – RDM’s are Redeemable Miles or Skymiles(see E15). It is simpler to type RDM’s. I have post up about RTW tickets!
    @Joe – With the Delta AMEX Reserve card, when you get 1x Skymile for each dollar you spend, 2x on Delta tickets, then when you hit $30,000 in spend, you get, 15,000 RDM’s AND ALSO 15,000 MQM’s. The 15,000 MQM’s you can KEEP or send to anyone. The RDM’s are just automatically sent to your Skymiles account!
    @Vincent Fox – Hope to see you and others. I will be in the LAX Skyclub Thursday EVE from 6-11:30PM (in that area anyway) other than dinner someplace!
    @Jim A – I have 3 tickets booked back to back that all went for around $200 each. I will break that down later too at the end of the year with all the totals.

  6. Hi Rene!
    You are busy!
    I have a mr
    This weekend
    Paid 250 all in for 7k+ MQM
    5 seg
    Already have one upgrade given earlier out than
    My GM 3 days
    Into atl
    Then to San Jose
    Then San Jose to atl red eye
    Then atl to dc
    Then dc to LGA
    Between sat and Sunday
    Wish me luck
    And put in a special word with the
    Bump faerie!!!

  7. What was the MR of this post? I want to know! (yes, I know it’s an old one.)

    Too sad now RDMs are based off price.

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