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.
I had a great reader question this week in the “Ask Rene” section of the blog. Reader R. Holmes asked me:
“I fly approx 8x/year, mostly routes to places like TN, ID, TX…I do much better when I fly first/business class. I am starting at square one, so could you give me a plan to make this happen?”
What a perfect rookie topic and especially so with all the new 2015 changes to the SkyMiles program and what to consider and just how far to go (and is it worth the effort).
So first things first and touching on “R”‘s question to begin with. I have blogged before that if you are flying less that 6 trips a year, that is every other month, you are not a frequent flyer but just a leisure flyer that travels a bit more than most.
In the case of the 6 or less trips a year traveler, IMO, you should not be reaching out for status by flying (more on that in a bit). You are truly better off just getting the Delta Platinum AMEX card as it gives you so many perks it is almost like medallion “lite” status. Plus, with that card, after year two, you get a BOGOF (E22) in coach ticket and as a less than 6 trips a year traveler this is a real value in your position.
Then we are at the 6+ a year traveler. This is where we start getting more serious. Now is 8x a year worth status? It well can be. But how does one start from scratch? The question really is what it is worth to you. If the price is worth it then there are choices to make.
The first thing to consider is status without flying and the cost to attain it. For example, by getting a personal and a business Delta AMEX Reserve card and spending just $1.00 on each you are gaining 20,000 MQMs. However, without MQD spend that does little for you. Getting just one of the two cards and speeding $30,000 gets you the 10,000 new card bonus and 15,000 bonus MQMs and makes you MQD exempt. The result, without flying, is Silver Medallion status.
Now for a weekly flyer Silver Medallion status is not all that great. You are talking few upgrades and only Comfort Plus seats at the 24 hour mark for free. But if you are flying only once a month or so this can be an amazing perk and value well worth the effort.
The next step is maybe worth climbing to Gold. Here is where spending $60,000 on a single Delta Reserve card, gaining you 30,000 MQMs, plus the 10,000 from getting the card, requires only 10,000 more MQMs in flying to reach Gold Medallion status. Well worth the effort for the perks if you fly 7-12 times a year.
So what about mileage runs to get started? That is an option too but you should consider the goal. Do you fly enough per year to make spending a few days mileage running and adding MQMs worth it for your travel plans.
The difference between Gold and Platinum status with Delta is dramatic. Depending on where you fly you are talking much greater upgrade percentage as well as gaining Choice Benefits. Well worth considering.
One last bit to think about is that Delta Medallion status is not what it once was and worth your attention. Delta is selling more upgrades and giving away status to many. Restricting upgrades to even choice coach seats for Silver and Gold medallions. They have cut upgrades for Platinums on transcon routes. Finding business class seats is harder than ever before and many times requires, if considering partners, 2 or 3 time the price to get the award that was so much cheaper before. So seriously consider if whatever level you strive for is worth it to you for the perks you now receive. Also, if you don’t fly that much, maybe consider just buying discounted 1st class tickets as the best choice!
Questions on any of this? Ask away! – René
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