Mileage Run

An Alaska Delta Elite Mileage Run: Planning, positioning, hotels and costs

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


13066mqm delta elite mileage run

I have a bunch of trips booked with Delta over the next few months, but only one last mileage run this year (not booking any more for now). I do have one booked in February 2016 but it is a combo vacation fun run so even if Delta does something really utterly stupid like puts an end to rollover MQMs I am good to go. Please know I have no information about any nasty changes like that, but this current SkyMiles team has shown cuts are much more important than loyalty.

The trip to Alaska was one I always wanted to do and a place I have always wanted to visit. Actually this was a second trip up but the first one was more of a vacation than a run so I thought I would review this one that was just for the points and what is possible.

I also thought I would start with a review of the full numbers first since so many are right now looking at all their elite numbers and trying to figure out just what they are going to do before year end. Maybe this will give you some things to think about.

When it comes to Elite Mileage Runs I always start with the run itself. What is the “CPM” or the cost / cents per mile for it and can I afford to position to the start city for a reasonable price. Also, will the two trips once averaged out still provide value to me. As long as the run starts in the USA I can always jump on the run, that is buy it, and have until midnight the next day to cancel free of charge with Delta if I can not make the rest of the bits work. Here is how this one worked for me.

The run itself cost a low $262, that I paid for with a bump voucher (I got a bunch this year), and it earned me 8,108 MQMs at 3.2 CPM (had I used my own money)  plus a   patheticly   ridiculously   nauseatingly   embarrassing low 2,020 SkyMiles “rebate” back as a Diamond Medallion (keep in mind I really don’t care about the rebate in SkyMiles, it is all about the elite MQMs).

flex perks card full size

I don’t live in LA so I had to get there. Normally I would fly out of somewhere that I can spend a low 20,000 FlexPerks points to position, but it is the end of the year so I spoiled myself and spent 30,000 points allowing me to go up to a $600 ticket out of my home town SBN. So, I earned 4,958 MQMs positioning as well as 5,181 SkyMiles. Now we should all know it only costs me $94 per 20k FlexPerks points so my out of pocket real cost was just $141 or 2.8 CPM to fly out and back from South Bend, Indiana to Los Angeles.

Thus my math and totals for flying was a sweet 13,066 MQMs at 1.1 CPM out of pocket. Add back the 7,201 SkyMiles value at least 1 cent each and I get a $72 refund thus $141-72=$69 all-in personal costs. That works for me since, again, only MQMs matter to me for my elite status. Not free but very close.

But what about the rest of my costs? I had both my wife’s and my own Chase IHG card free night certs I needed to use anyway but let’s include the credit card fee as a cost for these two nights at $49 each. That really is a bit high as I get other nice perks that I value by holding the card(s) like 10% points back and Platinum status. Either way let’s count the $98 for the two nights as a cost. Plus let’s tack on $24 for my parking fees in SBN and $6 gas so up to $197 for air / ground / lodging total!

lots of delta air lines 1st class meals breakfast lunch and dinners

You may be thinking what about food, but there really was very little cost here. I lived on Sky Club munchies and all 1st class flights that included meals (had to use a few RU’s but worth it). Plus, as you will see in the hotel reviews, club rooms meals and an amazing suite upgrade along the way. Oh and I did get a nice dinner treat from TexasYankee at Ruth’s Chris that would have cost a bunch had I paid for it! 🙂

steak RuthsChris steakhouse lax

Bottom line was that I had a really “fun run”. I had a mind blowing Delta event on the way home that to this day makes my head spin. I picked up, at a very reasonable cost out of pocket, the MQMs I wanted to end the year basically rolling over Diamond Medallion status in MQMs (that is, I will have it again once I spend $25,000 on my Delta AMEX card in January 2016).

But was it all worth it? Tag along for the ride and see what you think! – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

5 Comments

  1. I recognize this is a severely rookie question, but you mention all of the MQMs you got for positioning. Doesn’t that mean you have to “nest” flights, and if so, isn’t that against the rules? I face this dilemma every time I want to MR out of my home airport, ROC.

    • @Dave – Never been a problem for me ever. In fact, I want to do it this way as if there is an issue it is simpler to fix other Delta flights then ones on another airline. Plus, you are making two complete trips that do not circumvent a fare on the other route like a hidden city ticket.

  2. Timely piece. I’m currently sitting in LAX awaiting flights to MSP-ANC for my ANC mileage runs. First time for a multi-day run. Have scored a few medallion upgrades so far. Looking forward to 21+K MQMS when it’s all over. Enjoy flying but my family think I’m crazy …however I’ll have earned diamond for next year. Thanks for the nudge to try mileage running.

  3. I did the LAX-MSP-ANC RT run a few weeks ago. I live in LA, so the price and schedule made this a very convenient run for me. I wanted to spend as little time as possible away from home, so I only spent 1 hour in ANC and flew back to MSP overnight on the very same equipment that took me there. It certainly was amusing getting back on the plane and having the flight attendants all say “Welcome back” to me knowing exactly what I was doing.

  4. Howard Blevins Reply

    Hi Rene – Doing this run Dec. 7-10 with a 45 min turn in ANC (UGGG!). RU’s have cleared on the return redeyes from ANC-MSP-LAX but not outbound from LAX-MSP-ANC. Had a $200 voucher I used on positioning from HSV-ATL-LAX so all in for 3.3 cpm on 13,000 MQMs, and 1.5 cpm for total SkyRubles! Free Sheraton promo night not using points and this is a very cost-effective MR. Thanks for the great work as always!

Write A Comment

BoardingArea