Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
One of the most visited rookie Wednesday posts each month is the one talking about the different medallion levels. The post is fact filled but not really a personal reflection on the different levels and what they are worth.
I often get emails from readers that say something like, “Should I go for Silver Medallion or Platinum Medallion. Or, is Diamond Medallion worth it or is it better to rollover 30 or 40,000 MQMs into next year?”
I thought I would take the chance today to put my personal thoughts in a post and cover them in a rookie way. Also, this way when readers ask me I can both point to this post and have the benefit of your comments as additional input below (thanks for commenting btw).
Last year, on this date, I had dropped all the way down to Silver Medallion from Platinum. Then, thanks to several mileage runs, a few trips not on award tickets, and a bunch of MQMs from our friends at AMEX via my business Reserve spend and, in November last year, picking up a personal AMEX Reserve card I ended the year as Platinum again and stopped short of Diamond but rolled over a ton of MQMs into this year.
Silver was a huge change from Platinum. I had booked several Skymiles trips and knew I could only change them free with a schedule change. That happens so often that it worked fine. Plus, I knew I would be back to Platinum in a few short months. I also had to really “game” my upgrades. I resigned myself to sitting most of the time in exit row seats and that is fine. Economy Comfort or EC is nice but not that much better than exit row. So, I looked for flights I had a shot at upgrades on. They were few but bumps and reissues helped. I will tell you I counted the days till Gold. If you are on the fence about Silver vs. Gold – don’t be. Gold is a totally different world. Go for Gold.
Gold was a short stop for me but upgrades, on non-transcons, went way up. The Gold medallion line seemed more helpful and the wait times were short. All the other perks of Gold made me feel almost back to Platinum. When it came to trancons I was still deep down on the upgrade list. Some redeye’s worked, but not peak times. Expect more and you will also get more as a Gold. If I had to struggle to make some level with Delta each year, this would be the mark to shoot for.
Since I don’t have to struggle, Platinum was nice to get back to. I had never been Diamond Medallion and was totally happy as a Platinum. The medallion line often ended up in Chisholm call center, that is the old Northwest one, and the reps know their stuff. My wait times on the phone went almost to zero. I started to expect upgrades and got most of them non-transcon and several transcons as well. I loved being back to the point where I could change Skymiles tickets whenever I wanted. If you fly Delta often, you need to make it Platinum. The difference over Gold is remarkable when it comes to service, upgrades and flexibility. I think most would be happy to be Platinum for life. That is until you try Diamond.
Oj – Diamond Medallion. I really did not know what I was missing. If you have never been Diamond, and don’t think you can stay Diamond, don’t come up here. Truly. I have flown a bunch this year. The service is remarkable. Bend the rules? Nah, just toss the rule book out (mostly). Upgrades, what do you mean I did not upgrade? I expect 100% and have only missed a few upgrades. For my 8 leg mileage run I am on today and tomorrow all of the upgrades cleared at 6,5,3 & 1 day window (rolling along day by day). Last run I had to work it a bit but only had 1 of 8 not in 1st class. This is on deeply discounted coach seats mind you but I do have the Delta Reserve card that helps against other Diamonds who think they don’t need the AMEX Reserve card (they are wrong)! While I no longer have Chisholm call center, the Salt Lake reps do a fine job and are mostly good. I still get a few that are – click – hang-up and call back but not a ton. Award seats are way more plentiful and reps seem very happy to go after seats that KLM or AF or Alitalia say are not there and get them for me. As I say, Diamond is very nice and I like it up here!
So there you are. If you are thinking about what to do, take my experience over the past 12 months as a guide. There will always be compelling reasons to stop short of that Diamond mark and rollover up to 49,999 MQMs that is stop just short of 125,000 and rollover as much as you can to make Platinum much simpler. But, if you don’t think you can make it with MQDs on the way for 2014, then why not think about hitting Diamond this year, enjoy it next year, before you fall back to wherever in 2015! Questions? Ask away – René
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