Delta Pay with Miles (PWM) in 1st class 2015 SkyMiles & MQM update – All is perfect!

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rules 1 on delta-com earing points

I have some great news. First off, and maybe it is just me, but don’t you all think the strange and conflicting Delta wording for using Pay with Miles (PWM) from the Delta AMEX card is just a little bit like a Rube Goldberg machine? Plus, other than the MQMs, what they are displaying is flat out wrong, but more on that in a bit.

pay with miles fare rules

Oh and it gets worse to begin with. Seriously Delta – you make my head just want to explode! If you try to click on the fare rule when trying to use PWM you get the screen above. Ugh. If this were not so sad, and typical Delta, it would be laughable. But enough of this – on to the good news!

base fare for my pwm ticket

Two weeks ago Monday I had the distinct privilege of flying in 1A on the first scheduled 1st class Delta service from my home town airport South Bend Indiana or SBN. The choice to book it was simple. I could either spend 50,000 points for a LEVEL 1 award in business class (plus $11.20 in tax) or I could, since I do have a Delta AMEX card, use PWM and pay 50,000 points plus $16.20 for the ticket and hopefully EARN all points for this historic trip.

First some background on this if you just found this post months after today’s publish date. You see, in 2014 Delta made the amazing change to allow those who book with PWM in 1st class to earn points. It really did not matter how you got in first or how many points you used, you earned just like paying cash. Then, at the end of December 2014 Delta dropped the truly  SWEET  news that coach tickets would also earn points with PWMs. Amazing. I wrote how this really was a complete game changer for those of us who care about earning MQMs for our elite status. Then Delta updated the wording on with what you see above and confused everything once again. So, as a blogger, time to test what the facts really are.

full points for PWM 1st class ticket including bonus mqms for fare class

I can now report that all is GOLDEN and we are 100% good to go and that is truly great news (at least for booking in 1st class with PWM). I ended up getting as a Diamond Medallion:

  • 11x points for the MQD
  • Base MQMs for distance
  • 50% MQM fare class bonus
  • MQSs for each segment

Keep in mind the screen shot from above is just my outbound and the return posted with the same correct results. Other bits. Do notice from the fare class that my total ticket price, officially, was a negative number as I used so many points that some of the taxes and fees were paid with points and only $16.20 was billed to my AMEX card (for bonus points there too)!

Now just to be clear as many readers are not chasing status and MQMs. The SkyMiles earned I really don’t care about as with the 2015 revenue based earnings flying is just a STUPID thing to do to earn SkyMiles. If you care one bit about the fact that you are earning 5x or 9x or whatever you are not getting it and need to wake up. Delta destroyed SkyMiles earned from flying and none of us should care how much they pay out anymore. However, they did NOT destroy how many MQMs we earn thankfully (yet).

What is next? I hope some readers can chime in but I would love to know if you have had a partial or full PWM in coach and how your totals broke down in 2015 as far as earnings. Did you earn just like me that is whatever “X” SkyMiles based on the MQD ticket price and did you earn the correct MQMs? Either way I plan on booking a PWM coach run myself just so I too can blog the results. – 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. If you book Coach with PWM or award redemption and you are a Diamond, will either option allow you to be in a position for automatic upgrades to First class? And does these options put you way down the food chain to qualify for the upgrade to First Class? Thanks

  2. As soon as the change is made to the MQM’s I’m gone for sure. With all the changes (not for the better for a GM yet) this is the only thing keeping me around, and not to forget a boat load of sky pesos i still need to spend.

  3. @Sam – See link in post but yes you can upgrade but you are the bottom of the list. Also PM & GM can UG with PWMs.

  4. @Rene- Thanks. So the main question is whether or not PWM works with Coach to earn MQM’s. Hopefully someone tries that!

  5. @Rene- Thanks. I have been meaning to ask you this. If you had the means to reach Diamond status solely on Delta Skymiles credit cards, would you spend the annual fees on each of the cards to earn Diamond status? Just curious your thoughts on this.
    Or would you put your spend elsewhere such as SPG Amex, AA, Thank you, Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards and earn miles to then use those on First Class redemptions?

  6. @Sam – Last year I had 2 Delta Reserve cards and used them to earn 60k MQMs. I only have one card this year as I have almost 200k MQMs now. I will be shifting buying tickets from my Reserve card to AMEX PRG card to get 3x points on air.

  7. Am GM and have used PWM for coach and got full MQM, MQS and MQD(based on Fare balance after PWM). When I tried to pay infull with PWM the MQM’s went to zero. Appears you need to pay cash for taxes & fee and some of the actual fare.

  8. surely I am missing something …

    I am in the process of using miles to schedule positioning flights. Here is what is states about PWM : You’ve selected a Pay With Miles-eligible itinerary. Main Cabin tickets purchased using Pay With Miles are not eligible for mileage accrual and may not be eligible for Upgrades. Upgrade with Miles tickets, and Delta One™, First and Business Class tickets purchased using Pay With Miles are eligible for mileage accrual.

    This makes my head hurt!

  9. Great post Rene
    Please confirm you can’t use PWM for a trip to either Europe or Hawaii from the continental US

  10. @Sam & @René –

    I am a Diamond and I have done segments with PWM and have gotten upgrades and FULL MQM’s posted. No issues there.

    I just did 9 segments this past weekend (crossing over with René in LAX) just missed him by a second as we entered our Delta Porsche transfer 😉

  11. @Sam asked: If you book Coach with PWM or award redemption and you are a Diamond, will either option allow you to be in a position for automatic upgrades to First class?

    There’s hope: I am using PWM to fly coach on Thursday. I was upgraded last Friday afternoon. I was also upgraded for my return flight six days out. DMs using PWM for coach tickets can’t be the bottom of the upgrade list, given this experience. (Note: These are not short regional hops, but flights that are three hours long)

    When I booked this trip, I took screen shots of the MQMs said I was earning using PWM. Everything else zeroed out, but the MQMs remained. I used PWM to fly FC a few times last year and everything posted perfectly. I will report if I have any problems this trip.

  12. @Margo @Sam

    Here is the Priority “Chart” …

    1 – Diamond Medallions using GUC
    2 – Diamond Medallions using RUC
    3 – Platinum Medallions using RUC
    4 – All Medallions booking in Y class (Diamond, Platinum, Gold, then Silver)
    5 – Diamond Medallions on Paid Tickets
    6 – Diamond Medallions on Award Tickets
    7 – Diamond Medallions on Pay with Miles tickets
    8 – Platinum Medallions on Paid Tickets
    9 – Platinum Medallions on Award Tickets
    10 – Platinum Medallions on Pay with Miles tickets
    11 – Gold Medallions on Paid Tickets
    12 – Gold Medallions on Award Tickets
    13 – Gold Medallions on Pay with Miles tickets
    14 – Silver Medallions on Paid Tickets
    15 – Companions traveling with a Diamond Medallion
    16 – Companions traveling with a Platinum Medallion
    17 – Companions traveling with a Gold Medallion
    18 – Companions traveling with a Silver Medallion
    19 – Airline partner elites (Alaska, Air France/KLM, and Virgin Atlantic)
    20 – SPG Platinum Members

    (via John DELTA)

  13. @John DELTA
    Were your nine segments last weekend in coach or FC? That is the “real” question as getting MQMs for PWM FC flights worked smoothly last year, but coach is the change for this year…Thanks.

  14. @Margo –

    Booked in COACH, all flights have posted FULL credit

    Got upgraded, and even a Porsche transfer (at LAX)

  15. I flew a PWM trip to SFO in Feb of this year (2015) and I only received 11x on the cash portion I actually changed to my card. IE: FC ticket was ~700 and i paid down the cost with ~50,000 miles leaving a blance of 113.00. I only received 1246 miles. (11*$113) MQMs posted fine. Ticket was booked in Nov of 2014 if that makes a difference.

  16. i traveled from the west coast this week to atl to jax and was in c+ but the Fa’s did not give us the real snacks basket or the free drink??? also in atl last wednesday to SAN i needed a new boarding pass so i went to GA with my GOES Id she said she needed a REAL government Issued ID and not this one .. i said it was a real government (federal) ID and it got me into the airport and gate … she said NOT GOOD enough so i gave her my state of fl license which was ok with her??? i’m confused??? or is she?????

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