I had a fun interchange with AirFareWatchDog yesterday on twitter about mileage runs after the MAJOR news about the changes to the Delta Skymiles program to start in 2015. The problem most have is they have the wrong idea about just what a mileage run is. This comes from an age old understanding about it and that was once true; the old old way was earning SO many points off a cheap flight that the points could be spent for a 1st class flight somewhere else like Europe. Those days are long gone.
Nowadays a mileage run (MR) is about “the miles”! No, not Skymiles but elite miles or as we Delta flyers call them MQMs or Medallion Qualifying Miles. A combination of those points, and spend or spend exemptions (the cheapest MR you can make), yields your elite status of either Silver, Gold, Platinum or the top Diamond. A mileage run is to earn these points, not award points plain and simple. That is not to say that redeemable miles don’t have value, it is just not the goal (even more so in 2015).
When we look at a price of a ticket, say these two runs (2 days back to back) where I paid $306 for the tickets and earned over 11,000 MQMs. My CPM or Cost/Cents Per Mile was just 2.8. That is, I paid $306 to get 11,003 MQMs. When you compare this price to the price Delta will SELL you MQMs this past year as a Diamond, that is $1995 for 10,000 MQMs, you can see the great value I received. The goal was a great price for elite miles and I can still score that under Skymiles2015!
Now yes, earning 24,757 Skymiles on that run, worth at least $248 vs under the new 2015 model where I would earn 2,652 Skymiles, worth only $27, is a big hit on the “bonus” side. But that is all this is, a hit on the bonus, or essentially rebate, I get back. This has NO impact on the price to “buy” the elite miles on the mileage run. I do value my Skymiles so it is true the NET price, that is the cost of the run minus the value of miles, will go up.
All this means for me, and other mileage runners, is the price to take a run will have to be even better. Rather than accepting 5-6 CPM we will have to look for sub 4 CPM runs or less.
Is it worth it? That is a personal choice. If you value the perks of whatever elite level, the Choice Benefits for the top elites, the upgrades (the product is very good), the special treatment and phone reps, the bonus miles, not having to pay for most fees when you fly and on and on, and you need a few more points to reach that level, a mileage run can still be the best choice (and a “fun run” can most times be fun too)!
I think there will still be a need going forward for a DeltaMileageRun.com blog page and especially for the rest of 2014 where we can earn all the MQMs and Skymiles possible. Even after that under the new Skymiles2015 system to top off our accounts or make the next level at a good price. What do you think? Are the days of mileage runs over or just more of a challenge? – René