Delta Pay With Miles (PWM) in coach. Results are as expected – FULL MQMs and…

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my coach trip to mci on pay with miles

Deep down I was hoping for another result. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond happy to get something compared to nothing and this kind of “enhancement” really is just that, a perk we did not have before. So I do give credit here for this improvement for 2015.

However, we know from my 1st class test that spending your SkyMiles to fly will earn you points across the board just like “cash”. MQMs, MQDs, RDMs and so on – you earn them all. To me, it should be exactly the same for coach and 1st class tickets, but at least they have not “enhanced” away across the boarding earnings 1st class.

pwm coach ticket

So what about coach Pay With Miles from my Delta AMEX card. Just like my 1st class experiment I paid for almost all of the ticket with points resulting in a “negative” ticket price. The total price was $207.60 so I burned up 20,000 and $7.60 sent over to my AMEX card for a few extra bonus points at least. Now my results from flying have posted and:

pay with miles in coach delta

I received the quoted MQMs and MQSs for each segment but nothing more. For both examples I have earned NO Skybonus points but the 1st class ticket has yet to even show up in Skybonus and the coach one has not finished processing. My guess is neither will be eligible for Skybonus, but I would not be shocked to find one or both do end up earning me Skybonus points.

earned skybonus for pay with miles in coach

UPDATE: As you can see from above, I did in fact earn FULL Skybonus points for this coach PWM ticket. More great news!

crossover rewards for pay with miles ticket in 1st class

I can confirm my 1st class PWM did earn me full Crossover Rewards for the base part of the ticket. Since it takes a while for Crossover Rewards to post, I don’t know if the coach PWM will also yield points but I am not expecting any (please comment on the blog if you have confirmed results in this regard).

Bottom line is PWM can be a good option to consider if:

1) The price for a 1st class ticket is about the same as the business class award
2) You need to earn MQMs or MQDs and are booking business class
3) The coach ticket is about the same as a coach award to earn MQMs
4) You qualify on segments and need a few more
5) You don’t mind locking in the ticket purchase

The last one really can be a deal breaker. For Diamonds and Platinums the flexibility to change a ticket can be worth more than any points you earn so do keep that important fact in mind before you buy your ticket.

Lastly, as a total side point but one I just could not fail to see, is the sickening amount of tax I paid for this coach class ticket. Out of the $207.60 price a full $51.32 of it was tax and fees. Just ridiculous. Then again, when you look at the price for a gallon of gas the tax is equally sickening. I think I should let this go now! – 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. Rene’, we just completed a trip to KOA, Hawaii via PWM and we were upgraded to business/1st class from DTW to LAX and LAX to KOA. I booked the trip in coach with my points as a Platinum and added my wife who is a Diamond. It was interesting that I was listed ahead of her on all the upgrade lists (because I booked them?). We just missed upgrading on the return trip but there were only a couple open seats to begin with. Getting MQMs and and upgrades on 50% of the flights during the spring break season was great. I really like this new change to be able to rack up MQMs on “free” tickets.

  2. Rene,
    I’ve always enjoyed your column but I must have missed something and reading your post today on Easter was a big gift from the Easter Bunny and here’s why.

    I recently booked 2 First/Business seats from my hometown, connecting in ATL to Detroit and then to Paris for 225,000 miles for myself and a friend for 10 days in June to celebrate my upcoming 60th Birtday. The fee was $ 200 per person. It’s a 747 across the ocean so it should be great upstairs!

    I thought that I would get nothing in mileage and would have trouble maintains my Platinum Status this year. But based on your info, at least I am going to get compensated! Thank you!

  3. Rene, I’m writing here because I understand you are the Delta expert. So here goes. Between my husbands business travels and our personal travels we have points and miles all over the place. Unfortunately, They are spread very thin. We are planning a trip for May 2016 to Amsterdam. Delta seems to have the most direct flights out of Atlanta. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough miles to fly business class. If we buy our economy tickets what is the best way to upgrade. I will need to transfer Am Exp points – I don’t want to move any until I’m sure Business Class seats are available
    Thanks for your help, Joyce

  4. @Rene – about to consider booking like this ($350 coach ticket, burn 30k miles, pay a bit out of pocket, but get MQMs)

    But Curious – on PWM for Coach – did this affect the Medallion upgrade process in any way? Were you “taken down a notch” or, as far as you could tell, in the same priority order?

  5. @Levi – Keep in mind PWM upgrades are ONLY for GM or higher.
    While Delta says you are lowest on the list, my experience was just like paid tickets it is all dependent on the other factors such as your medallion class, fare class etc etc.

  6. @Rene – thx – so as a GM, “by the book” I’d be bottom rung GM, but still above FO – but could be “normal” – YMMV etc etc 🙂

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