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An Alaska Delta Elite Mileage Run: Final thoughts & was it worth taking?

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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.


mass of people boarding delta flight LAX airport
Gate “mess” at LAX

This Monday I will position out to Dallas for my last Delta Elite Mileage Run for the year. Actually, I only have one more trip booked after this in December so my flying for 2015 is just about done and I will end the year just shy of 90 segments, well down from last year, and my Delta MQD spend was about half what I spent the year before. This year I burned SkyMiles and next year will be more of the same. Delta just has not earned my loyalty dollars with all the changes to the elite and frequent flyer program over the past year or two.

But that begs the question, was this run worth it and why even take a mileage run nowadays when the only real perk is elite points (since you basically earn no SkyMiles for cheap tickets).

From a simple cost equation, like I talked about in the first post in this series, $69 bucks all-in is not a lot of money for the amount of MQMs I pulled in to help to maintain my elite status with Delta. Delta, in a shocking bit of frequent flyer psychology wisdom, gets the fact that folks will keep spending and flying on Delta with rollover MQMs. I can PROMISE you there are a number of folks who fly AA and others who, once they reach the MAX earning elite points, start spending big bucks on Delta and other airlines as there is no point in continuing to earn elite points on those airlines. A mileage runner also benefits from this same perk.

XpresSpa LAX RenesPoints blog
Another visit to XpresSpa – OK!

The run itself was fun and that is part of why I take a “fun run”. I just like to fly. If I spend more than a month on the ground I get itchy to get up in the air. It must be like those who love to live at sea. Someone who loves the sea hates to be on dry land for too long – same thing for me but up in the air. For me, a full time travel blogger, this is my work. I can work, when SlowGo or Gogo is working, even on a Delta jet. For as little as $8/24hrs of access, even painfully slow Gogo wifi works for me.

Delta 1st class meal cheeseburger lunch
Delta really makes a decent 32k burger!

There is always the amazing view out the window from a jet. I never ever get sick of just staring out the window from 32k. For this trip, having never been to Alaska, the views of this spectacular and beautiful planet we live on were over the top amazing. I cannot wait to visit this great state again and take my time and see so much more. Just love it.

On top of all of this I got to spend some time with Texas Yankee, a great point enthusiast. Folks, taking a run with someone who has many years of experience of earning and burning points and sharing ideas of how to maximize their use is never a bad thing. All it takes is one little idea to spark a new line of thinking that can have a huge impact on your frequent flyer balance (in a good way, most times).

Delta 1st class meal cold steak lunch
I got to eat a cold steak dinner in my lap ☺

Lastly, I had just the most amazing experience I have ever had in airline customer service that will never ever leave me as long as I live. That one moment alone was worth this run and has deeply impacted me. Clearly, stuff like this does not happen every run, but something interesting just about always does happen to make the run worth while beyond the point of the run, that is, the MQMs or elite points you gain.

So what about 2016? Well, I have only one milagerun booked next year so far. I do have a number of trips booked next year on Delta for work and for personal trips. I am burning some vouchers and many points. The issue here is we do not yet know what other cuts Delta will make next year and to the Medallion program. I would love to see some improvements, but I think that is unlikely and more pain is what I expect (would love love love to be wrong, btw). If things do not change with Delta, and American does make the changes many have speculated about, then sure, keeping elite status with Delta is a clear winner despite the horrid frequent flyer program.

I would urge you, if you are short of some elite level, to seriously look over this series of posts about “should you go for” whatever Delta elite level. There still is time to book and take a run should you need it at a cost that is reasonable. Who knows, you may even have some fun along the way too! – 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.

4 Comments

  1. Rene, Your reviews, news and tips on all things Delta and Delta adjacent, have been most helpful over the past couple of years when I first started following you. Today, I reach my last spend dollar of the 4 opportunities on my 2 Delta Reserve cards to get me to 60,000 MQMs. While I like to think of myself as pretty smart and knowledgable about the mileage and points game, I fully admit that I get a great push from all of you bloggers, and you in particular. Getting my 2nd Reserve card for business was one of them. As it was my Platinum Business card from AMEX to get the free GOGO inflight passes. (Although that tip may have coincided with another blogger :))
    60,000 MQM’s this year from my AMEX spend has pushed me will into my elite status for next year. That offer/opportunity alone has kept me loyal with Delta. No other airline card affiliation offers such a compelling reason to spend on them. However, almost as great is the service on the phone, in the air, quality of food, on time performance, much improved lounges ( I love the new LAX refurbishment) and GU’s. They cement the deal. Thank you for always offering the obvious to us, but more importantly, the minutiae. The devil is in the details, and when the details make our lives richer, more exciting and so much fun, I have to say thank you for them as well. Keep on bloggin!!!

    • @Scott – Thanks so much for ALL your kind words and support of the blog. I agree with all you said!

  2. This is why I love flying on Alaska Airlines and have given up on Delta. I can still do a cheap mileage run and actually get full miles (+ Gold MVP 125% bonus miles) in addition to EQM’s. And the miles are FAR more valuable than Skypesos.

  3. Rene, great post as always. I can relate to the urge to get back up in the air. For me, 32k feet is a peaceful experience and much needed downtime. I am currently a PM and 5k short to make Platinum again for next year. I will be doing the MR next week from JFK to DFW to lock in PM. Maybe I will see you in the front end of the plane, if my upgrade clears.

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