Rookie Wednesday: Planning for 2015 Delta Mileage Runs – Less is more / All-in when good!

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RenesPoints Rookie

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.

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Not much shocks me in the frequent flyer world anymore. Rookie questions do not bother me one bit and I love helping out. However, one thing that just instantly makes my blood boil and it is related to the same topic – DeltaMileageRuns. The first is when press folks say that mileage runs are dead due to Skymiles2015. The next, is when anyone incorrectly says Delta is revenue based and earning elite status is now based on how much you spend for a ticket. No, and REALLY NO! You have just shown how little you know about Delta.

So we know runs are not dead – yet. But they have changed. Even I have adjusted over on DeltaMileageRun.com what kind of runs I will post and it has resulted in fewer posts this year compared to 2015. My numbers for 2015 are:

  • Sub 4CPM for weekdays coach
  • Sub 5CPM for weekends coach
  • Sub 8CPM for weekdays 1st
  • Sub 9CPM for weekends 1st

The CPM is cost or cents per mile. That is the price you are paying to earn an MQM. The reason for these adjusted lower prices vs. 2014 is that the “rebate” or Skymiles we earn are so small this year that they are just not a factor of value anymore, thus the MQM price must be lower than before to be worth the price. After all, if you fly each month, and you value the perks of elite status, you still have to earn your MQMs one way or another (in addition to MQD spend or MQD exempt spending). Always know with Skymiles2015 spending less is winning and spending more is losing. Anyone who says they get more for spending more is just flushing cash down the toilet, does not understand what they are doing and is beyond our help.

Now that brings us to the main point of today’s rookie post – when the numbers are REALLY good it will be time to go all-in. When we do find prices that yield in the 2-3 CPM range it is time to book a bunch of them and if positioning is needed, book back to back days (within reason that is). Even if we have to pay to position, either with FlexPerks points or with our own cash (using bump vouchers is a better choice), the total cost for the points earned in flying to the starting city plus the run could end up well within our target numbers!

Other thoughts about “fun runs” this year. Do keep in mind just flying for points is a bit crazy to most, but not to me. So many are all about the destination. OK great. They don’t care how they get there and in what cabin as long as the trip is short so they can have max time at end point. Happy for ya and that is what you love. Not me. For me, I can have a ton of fun on the journey. From first class treatment to time in lounges with amazing perks to popping out to dinner with a friend or chance to pick up some points buying cheap gift cards is what I call a fun day. That is just me.

I will say I do see a day when this all becomes pointless (no pun intended). In yesterday’s Delta earnings call they said first class seats are sold almost 50% of the time. Not saying it is a bad thing for Delta to sell seats (hello) but less open seats for complimentary upgrades is clearly not a good thing for those of us who want them. The value of paying for higher status by taking a mileage run will be greatly if not completely diminished if that number goes too much higher. For most elites the true value of an elite program is upgrades – without those it is time to move on. Having said that, for me, I would then return to Platinum status as my yearly goal as the perks it gives for award tickets has always been my ultimate goal, that is, unlimited free changes up to 72hrs before departure for not just me but for anyone I book a ticket with out of my account.

Really the bottom line, as it is each year, is to start planning now and looking at where you want to be at year end rather than scrambling and over paying in the last few months of the year – René
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8 comments

  1. Hi Rene! As someone who doesn’t pay too close attention sometimes, maybe a rookie class question: With revenue based award miles and solely mileage runs, at some point won’t your treasure trove of miles dry up eventually if you do much award travel? I know there are other ways to get miles, but spend on flights seems to be the only realistic way. Or am I wrong?

  2. 50% sold??? It has to be higher.

    For my work trip this week, this is how I ended up on the upgrade list:
    ATL-LAS I was #2 with one seat available
    LAS-ATL I was #1 with 0 seats available

    Renee, the real question is not will there be upgrades, but if you really have to fight for the upgrades are they really worth it? The LAS-ATL flight was on an OLD 737 that was not updated and had really poor video screens.

  3. I too believe there are less and less seats up front to get an upgrade, depends on the flight destination and time of day but I also noticed Atl-Las has a high rate of seats sold up front, very few upgrades. Its definitely getting harder to snag an upgrade

  4. I agree 100% with your post Renee. Flying does not earn you many miles anymore, especially flying on a cheap ticket. I am on a mileage run now flying economy. Paid $350 for the ticket and am getting over 5800 MQM’s. What is that, about? .16CPM? Pretty good I would say. I was upgraded on 2 of the 3 segments on my outbound and the same on the return tomorrow. The long leg of ATLLAX was the bust. Which brings me to the last couple of comments. Longer legs, to destinations where big money resides (LAS=gamblers), (LAX=Hollywood types, etc), (SFO=Tech money), so people are much more willing to pay for first class. Yesterday there were 7 ahead of me on the upgrade list for 2 seats. All of us Diamonds.
    It will be interesting to see over the next couple of years how much this will effect DL, the diluting of our perks and benefits and the switching over to other airlines.

  5. 6.03 cpm. I don’t know much and worship you Diamonds, but I think Delta has made a calculation that they will suffer some losses in loyalty, but when they are flying near capacity on most routes they can sell the seat and get revenue from someone else. They don’t care because they don’t have to. This could change with a downturn in the economy, but there isn’t much competition (especially here in MSP).

  6. Another caption for your cartoon could be, “I know there’s a low mileage award seat in there somewhere”.

  7. it is distressing to see the upgrade list with 75 people on it and 2 seats they should just turn off the TV., i was recently told that the reason we do not get the upgrades here in jax to usually atl and ???is that we have a high concentration of diamonds…here ?? i was lax to atl 2 weeks ago on a very large plane(???) 6 across in first …. and they announced we have 6 diamonds and 7 plats .. i had never heard that announcement before …the diamonds were all in the first row….

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