Delta & travel cards paid me to Ski Utah this year! Happy Bumpertunity.

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snow in sbn delta points blog

Two weeks ago today, as you read this, I was sitting at the airport in South Bend Indiana (SBN) waiting to see if my snowy jet would take off. But as I tell the tale let me give you some background of how I got this far along the way.

My wife had a good amount of Skymiles but since she is only Gold I did not want to book until I found LEVEL 1, that is, 25,000 points per person round trip. So, I booked award seats at the higher level under my account knowing I could cancel and re-deposit (Platinum & Diamond’s can do this free) all I wanted and keep waiting for and searching for LEVEL 1 to pop up and then book with her points. Free travel, mostly from my Delta AMEX card,  is good other than a few bucks tax (I do value my points, but as you have seen in the past, NOW is when I count them as my free reward)!

sunny landing in atl delta points blog

Part one was done, our air, and out of SBN no less. Then on to the room. We had a bunch of La Quinta points from last year’s spin and win game and picked the La Quinta Midvale, Utah is just down the hill from Brighton and just off the highway and is only 8,000 points per night. This hotel is nothing to get excited about – think Holiday Inn Express. Light breakfast, free wifi (that was fast btw) clean room and other than a little slow tub drain, was just fine. For free and perfect location ya can’t beat it.

Lastly we needed a car. Simple. Reserve with a Chase Sapphire Preferred for all the perks that card gives me at rental, but here is a tip – they do not charge the card until you drop off with Hertz (my preferred rental company). Once I return, and get them to WRITE ON THE SLIP no damage, I ask to charge to another card the final numbers. We then ran the car to my wife’s Barclay’s Arrival card and paid ourselves back for the car and that cost us just about nothing. Again, can’t beat free.

my bump bird atl delta points blog

Now one small problem. If you will recall, Superbowl Sunday there was a massive snowstorm in the Midwest. We were getting FEET of snow and I knew my evening flight would cancel (it did btw). Under the free weather waiver we got changed to the first AM flight Sunday that had arrived the night before and I hoped it would fly. Plus it went to Atlanta NOT Detroit as we had planned on the other schedule. Everyone was going to nice, dry and sunny Atlanta. That was very good for us.

mass of people waiting to board atl to slc

Our next flight was oversold by 2 and we each got $600 to take the last flight of the day out of Atlanta direct to Salt Lake. SCORE! Nothing like a bump on an award ticket.

BTW, I can confirm a few things with this. The mainline gate agent could see my bump bid and did accept it but we were also the first two on his paper list as well. I attempted to SHENA an upgrade on the next flight as we were so helpful to give up our seats but the Redcoat almost spit at us in her tone when she noticed we were on an award ticket. Makes me so happy Delta people respect how hard we work for our points under Skymiles2015, but whatever. We ended up in C+ seats on a 737 and it was tolerable, but just. We spent most of the day in THE CLUB at ATL as that long at a Skyclub would not be much fun. Ran into a reader and had a chat, went down and got a massage at the XpressSpa and had lunch at the club (even a nap). Not a bad way to earn $1,200!

lady with dog at delta E skyclub atlanta delta points blog

Before our flight we did head over to the E-Skyclub as we wanted to be near our gate and watch some of the game and we see the above. Dog lady had her companion at her hip, get this, not just at the “Delta Luxury Bar” at bar level but then went over and got soup and other things with Dog at food level the whole time. Then doggie ate off one of the plates. Classy lassie? Oy!

getting jimmy johns lunch on the way to alta utah delta points blog

Day one was off to one of my favorite spots on the planet to ski (after a quick Jimmy John’s run), that is Alta, a skiers only mountain. Plus, by pre-registering, and bringing our boarding pass from the day before, we got lift tickets for about half off. #Winning.

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alta utah delta points blog (1)

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As you can see conditions were good a.k.a. it was snowing. It was not really a powder pig day but enough of a coating that we could find some fresh tracks despite not making it up to the lifts until about 10AM due to our late-ish arrival

lunch at alta utah delta points blog

Subs and suds (non-Skunky) was perfect. Just enough to recharge the tank for more turns after lunch.

amazing view of alta utah delta points blog

I hope you take the time to click on this panorama of the top of the mountain. Gosh it is remarkable and last run of the day is so quiet, nice and stunning. I love warm weather but the mountains in winter are dreamy!

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Next day was up to Brighton I had used Liftopia to get 2 passes for the price of one. Again #Winning.

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The views from the top of the “Snake Creek” lift are mind blowingly striking. You can see for miles and miles and the runs off this side of the mountain are just about perfect blue runs (that is intermediate).

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I took time to “fake” how deep the snow was. Honestly it was kinda thin this season and I worry for Salt Lake this summer with this little snow pack.

Brighton utah delta points blog (1)

Once again, just look how amazing this part of the world is. If you have not come to Utah to ski – please make the time. You will love it. The place, the food, the people are all just tops. I love coming here to visit each year.

So how did we do? I got to see and ski with some friends I have not seen for a year. We paid basically nothing for Air, Hotel or Car. We did pay for lift tickets but they were 50% off. We did have to eat but I have to do that anyway :-). Overall, when you add up the numbers, we earned about $700 on this little vacation. Not a bad way to spend a few days on points in the middle of winter! – René
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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  1. @Andy – Wow you move around a lot from Australia (last comment) to now the middle east! 🙂
    First off, I am GAME ON this year. Next, back in the day the free money was great. Now bump vouchers are so restrictive you have to game Delta to use them. Now I know how, but it is a shame you have to. So yes, I will keep ranting about the evil practices Delta is doing until they change. Then freeloaders (your words) like you and I can get real value when paying for tickets! 😉

  2. Congrats Rene! These are the types of practical trips that make Delta SkyMiles very valuable in my opinion. One question, what is your strategy for bidding on an oversold flight? I thought $400 was the maximum for domestic tickets, so therefore I always bid $399. surprised you got $600. Thank you

  3. Fix this Rene: “But as I tell the tail let me give you some background of how I got this far along the way.”

    Should be “tale”.

    Sorry, English teacher.

  4. Rene,

    We didn’t do as well as you price-wise, but, just the same, we were quite pleased with our combination Salt Lake City-Sun Valley ski trip last month at 25,000 miles per person (BWI-SLC-SUN-BWI (short layover at SLC on way home, all other legs non-stop). Have been loyal to Delta because of its NS flights to SLC from BWI and PHL, but with the 2015 rule changes re stopover awards, it no longer seems worth it. We will likely concentrate on Southwest and United because of latter’s award prices for Asia (just got 2 RT tickets to Tokyo flying out on partner ANA and returning on United for only 70,000 miles each + a total of $101.80 tax). I know United has lousy food, but even Silver flyers qualify for free Economy Plus seats on United. I think Delta charges for such seats unless one is a super elite like you. I have used most of my Delta points for an upcoming Australia trip on Virgin Australia (it will be our first international business class experience). Thanks to you and the Points Guy, we have finally been able to use our points in a sensible manner!

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