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My final Delta mileage run for 2013 with MJ on Travel blogger – 9000+ MQM’s & 1.5CPM

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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.

welocome to las vegas las airport delta points blog

This does it for me for the year. This one was another run I had not planned to take, but the price was just way too good and it was a chance to spend some time with a fellow blogger along the way. That is priceless. I will break down the numbers soon and my grand totals for the year.

almost empty LAN Lansing Michigan airport gates delta points mileage run

I always say where you live just does not matter if the price is good enough. This run popped up out of Las Vegas for $139 round trip. Picking up 5193 MQM for that is a great deal and low CPM or cost per mile. But how does one get to Las Vegas from South Bend? Clearly via Lansing Michigan? What? Well I used 20,000 FlexPerks points. These are fun in a few ways. You can spend up to $400 MAX on a ticket with those 20,000 points. Fare class does not matter, it is all about the number and staying under it. Go $1 over and you go to the next point level, 30,000 and then you can spend up to $600. I did not want to burn that much and out of South Bend everything was over $500, but Lansing which is just a little more than 1-ish hour farther away than SBN airport got me what I wanted. So the positioning cost was ZERO for airfare, and I did have some parking and gas but no tolls in Michigan. That did run me $60 all-in.

Some will now say, “hold on, that did cost you the points so you lost out on $400“. No, first off, this is my point math :-). Next, I have more points than I can spend and I am working toward a goal of MQMs not more FlexPerks points (mileage runs is one of the reasons I collect them anyway). Lastly, if “those people” MUST put a number on 20,000 FlexPerks then the cost is just $158 that is 40x$500 ($3.95 fee each) Vanilla Reloads. Fair enough?

Anyway, back to my fun run that is #DeltaMR2013. MJ’s and my first flight was 6:AM out of LAS so I had to go in the night before.

delta 1st class food detroit to las vegas delta points blog

My night flight from DTW to LAS was nearly an EMPTY first class flight (it was catered for FULL so I got the veterinarian with a chicken breast). I am serious, this was the most empty flight I have ever seen. There were 7 empty seats in 1st class and only 40 passengers in the back on a 757. Just amazing. Even an SPG CrossoverRewards “medallion” would have upgraded on this flight (they were even selling 1st class upgrades)!

chicken wings in las delta points blog

I have a life long buddy in LAS so he picked me up and we went out to dinner. Since I had already had food on the flight I just snacked on some nummy wings and a good beer and some great time with my friend Bill at local micro brewery.

paying for wings with chase sapphire preferred delta points blog

After paying for dinner with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (gotta get those 2x points) he took me on a tour of the Las Vegas strip and area. I wanted to check out the Pawn Shop from the hit TV show Pawn Stars but it closed at 9:PM. Next time!

the las vegas strip delta ponts blog mileage run 2013

The strip was neat and fun to see all the hotels you only see in the movies and such. Not my kind of thing (i.e. casinos) but still fun to look at the show.

Especially the water show like the one you see above. I can only imagine how many slot machines it takes to keep this much water doing this in the dessert. I don’t gamble as I see it is the same as the lotto – all just voluntary taxes. I don’t pay one penny more in tax than I have to so why would anyone flush money this way, but to each his own.

The Centurion lounge AMEX LAS Las Vegas airport delta points blog

On to day one. The day started with a cab race to the airport (MJ won just barely) and then a visit to the Centurion Lounge that you can get access to with the AMEX Membership Rewards Platinum cards (the NON-Delta ones). You can also pay for a visit with any AMEX but that is not for me.

inside centurian lounge las airport delta points blog

We were there too early for the full hot breakfast that started at 6:AM

mj on travel breakfast at the amex loung las delta points blog

But MJ had a coffee and I had some fruit and juice and we slowly began to wake up for the trip. I say slowly as we start flying to Jacksonville Florida the best route possible. That would be via LAX clearly and both of us slept mostly on the 1-ish hour flight.

rene and mj 1st class las-lax delta points mileage run 2013

That was a good thing too as there was NO, I mean NO, breakfast catering on the jet. No bananas, no muffins, no banana bread. Who can eat peanuts and pretzels in 1st class for breakfast. #Fail Delta, #Fail big time. KLM would have had a hot breakfast sandwich on such a short hop (short rant over).

Once landing we headed over to the Skyclub and some refreshments while we watched the upgrade list go from no way to really no way (I ended up 7th and MJ in the 20-ish area). I then tweeted:

58 delta medallions on the lax-atl upgrade list delta points blog

And this is really true. There are just too many Medallions for too few seats (there are only 45 1st class seats on a 777 and as you can see with 2 seats open to upgrade 58 were on the list 🙁 ). I guess I like the MQD idea for 2014 as long as the “spend your way to the top” via AMEX does not go away and I do not think it ever will as it would be a mass cause for people dumping their CO-branded Delta AMEX cards.

leg room in 31g delta 777 lax-atl delta points blog

So on to our Economy Comfort front row on a 777 wide body. The seats were OK. Leg room was ample and the only thing I really missed was space and service. I had a snack box with my HOOU coupon and it was good. I like just about everything in these meat and cheese boxes. The service was just OK but it is nothing like what you get in 1st (these FA’s did not strive for five shall we say). We had a good tailwind and the flight was under 4 hours from LAX to ATL.

rene and mj on travel delta skydeck atlanta airport delta points blog

Due to the fast flight we had some extra time in ATL and headed over to the SkyDeck. The weather was cool but fine and fun to spend time “outside”.

rene and delta points reader levi on delta skydeck atl atlanta airport

Not just outside but I had a chance to meet up with some readers as well. Levi, it was fun to see you and your wife and hope you enjoy your trip! Congratulations you two!

The quick 45 min trip to JAX was strange. I should have cleared the upgrade, but for some reason did not and was dumped down the upgrade list. There was an issue when boarding that the gate said we were NOT checked in despite our having our boarding passes in hand.

mj on travel buys rene delta points steak sandwich in jax florida on delta mileage run

Ah well, we had both pre-cleared on the trip back and MJ was kind enough to pick us up some steak sandwiches in JAX. They really were quite good and I was hungry at this point.

lound girls on delta first class delta points blog

The only special thing about the trip up from JAX to ATL was the first class passengers behind MJ & I were so loud that it was easier to tweet to MJ sitting next to me than try to hold a conversation. Can you imagine people like this using cell phones in flight. Oh my!

1st class bulkhead cutout on delta 757 row 2

The leg back to LAX cleared at the gate and I was on an ex-NWA 757 with the right side cut outs for your feet This was sweet and I so wish all the jets would implement this in 1st class. It made all the difference in the world and I was able to stretch out and sleep most of the way back to LAS. I had pre-cleared the redeye back to MSP and slept from gate to gate!

leg room on delta crj200 delta points blog

I had a long layover in MSP so spent some time at the XpressSpa and the Skyclub before suffering in anguish enjoying my CRJ200 Endeavor Air 1 hr ride to LAN. Oh how many ways can I say how bad these things are. UGG.

results with cwsi-net deltamr2013 delta points blog with mj on travel

Now to the math. I paid just $139 for the tickets and even got $25 back from FlexPerks for buying a $50 Delta e-Gift card on my FlexPerks card the day I flew as they will credit you back for incidentals up to $25 per redeemed award ticket. However I like to take the credit when I spend so the $25 does not count NOW (my math again) So, that works out to just 1.5CPM. Now I did have the gas & parking so real cost was up to $174. Even if you want to add the “cost/value” of the 20,000 FlexPerks points of $158 I am still only at $357 or 3.9CPM all in for the 9243 MQMs.

As a Dimond Medallion I earn $207 in value in for the 20,797 Skymiles earned bringing my real travel cost down to just $150! Are you all starting to understand and grasp the idea of where you live just does not matter? If I had done two days back to back of this run, then the cost per mile would have been even less. Lastly I did burn 20,000 IHG points for a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express near the LAS airport that I would not go back to again. I also did have a $20 cab bill as the free shuttle did not start till 5:AM (not in my plans as there were NO time restrictions on the shuttle on the hotel web page).

So that wraps up the run. What are my numbers looking like for the year? Also, what about SWAG Saturday and how will that tie in? Be sure to check back later today at 1:PM for SWAG and Sunday afternoon for the wrap-up for the full year as well as some final reflections of me as a Diamond vs MJ as a Platinum for upgrades (and if I at last got him to carry my bags)! – 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. “My night flight from DTW to LAS was nearly an EMPTY first class flight (it was catered for FULL so I got the veterinarian with a chicken breast).”

    “…veterinarian with a chicken breast…” – what an image!

  2. Delta must be really hitting rock bottom if they are serving veterinarian in First Class these days.. AA would never do that, they generally draw the line at radiologist. 🙂 Nice trip report.


  3. Jamie Postma Reply

    Looks like you had a great time. Good food, friends, a glass of wine and lots of MQMs for the next year! Keep up the great posts. I look forward to seeing you in the air one day!

  4. So I guess that the new politically correct term for horrible Chinese food?

    Glad to hear the run went well. I tend to shy away from MR after mid Nov in the NE for fear of weather issues.

    Speaking of CRJs did you see that BOS-JAX is now getting CR9 service…yuck daddy!

  5. What do you think really happened on your ATL – JAX LEG? Kind of sounds like the story on flyer talk where the guy got bumped for non-revs.

  6. Pingback: SWAG Saturday – would you do a Mileage Run, Mattress Run or other elite exercise? - Delta Points

  7. I just lowered your cost for FlexPerks –
    Buy VISA GC at a grocery store. $500 for $5.95 fee. Since it’s a 2x category, you’d have to buy 20 GC rather than 40 VR.
    20*5.95=$119 for the FlexPerks rather than $158.
    You can send your first $39 in savings to me if you like 🙂

  8. Rene,

    I also like to put to runs back to back to cut down on the costs to reposition. Sometimes the award is great enough for one trip, or long enough. I have booked two trips to ANC one from CLT and other from JFK, of course stopping in SEA to get the bonus miles and most of all bonus MQM’s. I would like to suggest that on the your MR page when the deal is over to remove it so we don’t have to go through the entire list to find one that might still be working, thanks for all you do.

  9. Pingback: The Not So Live Mileage Run Blog – Delta First Class Dinner and the Centurion Lounge - Marshall Jackson on Travel

  10. Great mileage run! You inspired me to do a few runs from LAX to JFK as I was going to end up 19,000 MQMs short for Diamond status. I don’t have time to spend multiple days, so I used my $200 Platinum voucher for a net cost of $137 for 4950 MQMs for one. I also got a Delta Reserve Business AMEX card for the full 10,000 MQMs. Activated the card late one night and received the MQMs the very next day when I used it for the first time.

    I noted your comments about the FAs from LAX to ATL.
    “these FA’s did not strive for five shall we say”
    I frequently travel ATL>LAX>ATL for work and unfortunately this is typical, even in First Class. The fail 9 out of 10 times is V, visible and available, as they do the first service and disappear. The FAs are in the galley eating, reading magazines and books, and chatting away. If you ask for something, which I always preface with a gentle “excuse me,” it’s awkward because it’s clear you, the customer, interrupted the eating, reading, and conversation(then it’s a fail on the S/smile). It’s really a shame. I don’t use the FA call button unless it’s something urgent, but I notice more and more people are using it to request water, etc.

    Once in First Class, the FA was totally absorbed reading a book when I went up the first time (he jumped when I asked him for another bottle of water) after he served drinks with dinner and then disappeared for over an hour, and when I later went to use the lavatory he was sleeping sitting on the floor leaning against the side, I kid you not. I do include my experiences like this in the comments on the flight surveys I receive. Perhaps if you share your FA experience with Delta, they will take note.

    Thank you for all you do!

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