Trip Reports

Another day, another Delta mileage run, another 10,000+ MQM’s & 24,000+ Skymiles Part Two

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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.

flying by chicago on the way to mke delta points blog

After my Sheraton MKE stay, then my Day 1 trip, Day 2 of my run started with a bit of a layover in MKE. The Skyclub there really is nice. They have the “luxury bar” open now for those who like that sort of thing. The Wifi speed is good and the club is near the gates. As I checked emails one alert after another came about a delay to my flight from DTW-SFO. The last one gave me 40 min to make my red eye back home. NOT GOOD! I almost pulled the trigger to change from MKE-DTW-SFO to MKE-JFK-SFO as there were a ton of 1st class seats open for upgrade on both flights and the JFK-SFO is a nice long flight with good food. But, on day two I got lazy and just did not want to fly to JFK (I really should have to check out the new SkyDeck and pick up more MQMs). Instead what I did was change to an earlier DTW-SFO flight, upgrade clearing, so I would have more time in SFO to play around. I wanted to try to get access to the Virgin Atlantic club in SFO and spend some more time looking around the airport.

view coming into sfo airport delta points blog

The lunch flight was nice but there was no power on the A320. It has been a number of years since I was in SFO. As a wee lad I lived for a time in San Francisco and went to high school in the area.

virgin atlantic 747 sfo airport delta points blog

The first thing I wanted to do was go and try to get into the Virgin Atlantic lounge. This lounge is accessed PRE security in the international terminal that you can walk to or take the train around the airport.

directory to virgina atlantic club sfo airport delta points blog

I missed the entrance as I was not looking for an overhead door. After walking back and forth I finally saw the sign. Closed? I rang on the delivery door bell and a rep came to the door. The club is only open when VA flights are to fly and I missed it and did not have the chance to try to get in. Next time.

virgin atlantic clubhouse door sfo airport delta points blog

So what to do next? How about a visit to an Xpress Spa. All of them are POST Security and not on Delta wing. However, there is no problem, other than time, getting into ANY of the concourses in the airport with a boarding pass for that day (even the international should you want to ‘try’ to get into the Air France lounge). If you like deep pressure massage, go ask for Thomas. He did a GREAT job and I felt refreshed and ready for the rest of my run.


Dinner next. I asked for the best spot to eat and was told the Firewood Cafe. There is one PRE security and one POST International wing. If you want a pizza go International if not PRE is the same food. I had a grilled steak skewers salad and it was nice.

I had pre-cleared my upgrades for my next two legs and all went without a hitch. My night flight to Atlanta went fast and I would have liked to have slept for about 2 more hours.

delta skydeck email add delta points blog

I had 2 hours in Atlanta and went over to the “F” concourse for a shower in the Skyclub and a look at the SkyDeck (no thanks for $50 but why not if you have an AMEX Reserve card). It is nice but small. If the weather is nice, it will be packed. If not, eh, not so much. I think it is a novel idea but not one Delta should expand. I like my deck at home, not in the air.

delta SkyDeck ATL Atlanta airport Delta Points blog

On to the nuts and bolts about this trip. This run was not the best ever cost but worth price due to tight schedule I have in July (this is only time that could work for a trip all month). Thus my cost breakdown was like this. I earned 10,774 MQMs due to my change in day 2 route from MKE-ATL-SFO to the shorter MKE-DTW-SFO but it was worth it for 1st class transcon! I netted 24,240 Skymiles as a Diamond Medallion. Thus:

  • $503 all in or 4.7 CPM
  • $242 back in value for SKYMILES
  • Net raw cost $261 or 2.4 CPM (MQM cost that is)

So my total out of pocket spend so far this year is now up to $2100! I am over 157,000 MQM for the year (including rollover).  I have also earned  over 124,000 Skymiles. These are worth at least $1240 even at just a penny each value. So, worst case, out of pocket $860 + gas. How much more am I going to spend for the year? Under $2000 more and I am hoping one day to get a few bumps! This remaining spend should yield at least 40,000 more MQMs & 100,000 Skymiles so I can rollover 72,000 + 15,000 more bonus MQMs from AMEX Reserve spending by 31DEC2013.

I hope you are seeing my big picture math here. Yes I am burning days but thanks to GoGo I can both do CPU work and blog work in the air and in Skyclubs. I am spending almost $4000 for the year but am gaining well over 200,000 Skymiles. I have to go to Sweden many times a year. I always find 100k low level business seats. To buy a business class seat for $2000 is just a good value to me (ie the cost of amassing the Skymiles from the mileage runs). The other perk is Diamond Medallion status this year and a BIG start on next year. I am not saying this is for everyone, but it works for me and you can at least see the math.

Lastly it was out of MKE so I had a drive from South Bend to Milwaukee so there was a tank of gas and some tolls (about $110 all-in). I really am pleased with my progress in MQM earnings this year and the total cost. 2014 may be a hard year for me to fly as much so rolling over as much as possible will be a huge perk for my 2015 flying year! Are you on track for your goals for the year? – René

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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. Nice report! Yes, I’m on track to make FO for the first time this year. I will make it on my way back from LAX next weekend. I should end up with some nice rollover miles for next year, as well!

  2. My goals are by far not as ambitious as yours, but, yes, I am on track to requalify for Silver Medallion.
    I am looking for some decent flights this December to finally get over the threshold and then I’ll roll over about 6k MQMs.
    If program rules were fix and wouldn’t change I’d make it Gold in like 15 years, when I keep my flying pattern 😉

  3. I love playing with numbers of things like this so I plugged in some stuff to check and found business class seats from Chicago to GOT a few random times throughout the year for $2080. Those fares are with United or Lufthansa and you would net 17000 redeemable miles (plus any elite bonus) plus the elite miles. So, you would pay the same price as you are for purchasing SM through your MRs, plus you save 8 days of mileage running per ticket PLUS you would achieve high-level United status at the same time. Sounds like it is time to give up on Delta if your main goal is business class to Sweden! 😉

    • @Charlie – there is one, well many, MAJOR flaws with your logic. The biggest is I would have to fly United. No thanks! Also while I love Lufthansa 1st class, biz is just so-so. Plus, an award ticket on Delta, as a DM, I can change all I want as much as I want up to 72hs. Just getting a UA rep to change a paid ticket and not make it disappear is, well, a wing and a prayer. No thanks – I will stick with my beloved Delta! 🙂

  4. @ Rene – it is all perspective because I was trying to point out what I thought was flaws in your logic on explaining your numbers for the MR :). You didn’t say any of the above in the post – you had just mentioned that you thought spending $2K for miles to redeem for business class was ok. I have not had problems with UA reps changing tickets in the past – I guess you have had bad experiences with them. The big number is the 8 days of flying to earn miles for 1 business class ticket to Europe – like you said, it works for you but I cannot imagine it working for most. Cheers.

  5. Since time is money, you should keep a tally of your number of hours or days doing mileage runs.

    • @Bob – I HATED the day I had the class on “opportunity cost” in college. Change my life in a good and bad way! As I mentioned in the post, I can work in the air and on the ground for my jobs so I would be doing almost the same thing at “home” so for me, it is all the same. But, since you asked, a normal run for me is WED-FRI I leave AM WED and come home afternoon Friday so about 50-ish hours for 10k MQM.

  6. Rene – Thank you so much for your update! I will soon Earn FO status for the first time and have been tallying up all of my points along the way.

    I love reading about your adventures and have even taken my first mile run with my boy friend because of your blog! When we discuss your blog we talk about you like you are a person friend (ex – Rene just posted a new MR!) We love it!

    Now to a question I have as I look at my miles. I will net FO status next month and with other scheduled flights will be able to roll over miles for next year. I do not have an AMEX card and will not be exempt from the qualified spend threshold next year. My question is this — is it worth doing some MRs for the 15K in points to make Gold this year and keep it until 2015 or should I just roll over my miles for next year?

    Some things to consider
    – I will not be getting the Delta AMEX card and I will not make the $5K spend in tickets for Gold (So I for sure know I will not net Gold next year)
    – I Will make the spend for Silver and will fly enough to earn silver as well.

    Im on the verge of saying yes and getting Gold this year just to enjoy the possible upgrades for 2014 when I fly (which is about 12 Round trips). Thanks for all of your help!

    • @Joelle – thanks so much for such a nice comment.As to your question of going for gold it is a hard one to answer one way or another. It really is a personal question. Having said that I would go for gold and enjoy it next year and then see what you can do under the new qualifying rules for 2015

  7. Thank you for your often inspiring but always entertaining messages.I’m not yet on track but look forward to my own mileage runs last half of this year!

  8. Thank you Rene! Such a fast response!

    We will be chatting about your site tonight as we travel to SFO for what feels like a MR (such a quick turn around)but is actually for a wedding.

    PS: We also LOVE Swag Saturday!!!

  9. You should try the skydeck ay JFK. It may change your opinion on skydecks.

    • @John – Yes I am very much looking forward to that soon. Want to spend many hours in T4X for that matter. Oh, and then do a Pizza tour with my fellow blogger Michael W. and Rapid Travel Chi! 😉

  10. Instead of the drive, why not park at SBN and take the South Shore to Chicago, and Amtrak to MKE? $24 low fare bucket on Hiawatha (AMTK) and $11.75 SBN-Chicago seems cheaper than $110.

  11. Pingback: Delta Air Lines Mileage run – a break even trip – MKE-ATL-LAX part one - Delta Points

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