Rookie Wednesday: Delta “survival” tips for medallions & frequent flyers TOP10 for 2016!

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RenesPoints Rookie

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.


be sure to join teamboardlast on delta as an elite 2016

I know a bunch of Medallions don’t bother to read Rookie Wednesday posts (but you should). I share so much you, yes you million milers, don’t think about (again, but you should). So I even this week included medallions in the title so I hope you will look over not just this post but the rest of the Rookie Posts you missed out on (see link above)!

1) #TeamBoardLast. Delta, as always, is pushing HARD to get flights out on time. That matters way more than a Medallion getting an upgrade. So if you really really really want an upgrade you will push the GA or gate agent when they say 1st class has checked-in full and ask if 1st class has boarded full (hopefully they will not lie to you). If not boarded full then be the last medallion standing and you can score that last upgrade seat even if just a Silver Medallion. Yep, there is NO rule they must pull who “was” #1 on the upgrade list from their coach seat to 1st class. On time departure matters more to Delta than our loyalty.

2) Board pre-ZONE2. OK this sounds funny after point #1 but this applies to those who are not medallions. Delta, almost by default, will force you to check your bags if you are boarding ZONE2 or higher. This, beyond getting your fee paid back each year with deals, is a major reason to at least hold the Delta GOLD AMEX credit card when flying Delta for the ZONE1 perk.

3) DYKWITIA. Now I am not telling you to be a jerk, that is, one of “those” Do You Know Who I Think I Am kind of people. What I am saying is use this to get what you are due. If you are a million miler and Delta will not waive a fee or do something that you want, play this card to get help. Remember, Delta only cares about loyalty $$$. Well I care about me and will use this trump card if I must.

4) TSA PreCheck. If you don’t have it, I feel very sorry for you. The TSA, as we have seen all over the blogs, will now not always let you “opt out” of the nude-O-scope. This can be really bad for those who have an insulin pump that could be broken by the machine and TSA will not pay to fix it if they do break it. There are so many cards that offer to rebate back your $100 Global Entry fee (like the non-Delta Platinum AMEX card) that includes TSA PreCheck as well. Just do this if you have been putting it off – PLEASE!

5) HOOU coupons. Wait, I thought those went away. Well, not really. Redcoats often have them in their pockets. Gate Agents sometimes do and you could ask for one for offering to give up your seat even if they don’t need you i.e. you offered to help them now they can buy you a drink onboard. All the Sky Clubs have them so ask for one for your next flight or 3. Since many of us will opt-out of C+ insanity we will be in exit rows. A HOOU makes this C+ lite for us!

6) Get Wifi. The nice thing about flying Delta is you are going to have Gogo or at least SlowGo. We clearly all need to be constantly connected to the world outside, and there are so many ways to get access for very little cost out of pocket.

7) Delta Assist on Twitter. If you are not using Twitter and Delta Assist you are not prepared for 2016. You MUST do this. Delta is expanding this support team greatly and they can do amazing things that NO ONE ELSE seems to be able to do. Please, trust me, use this no matter who you are.

8) Get lounge access. With airports just slammed with leisure travelers, being able to get out of the maelstrom of “all that” and enjoy all the perks and customer service that comes along with it is worth it. I will always have some kind of access even when Delta does not give it to me free as a Diamond!

9) Be nice – Give Starbucks. I give away several hundred dollars in these $5 cards each year to Delta people. It makes their day and they deserve it. If I happen to get better service along the way this is just a side perk but not the reason I do it. I appreciate the hard work by Delta people and it is fun to just say “the next one is on me”!

10) Don’t accept NO! This may be the most important one for all of 2016. When talking Delta we are not talking Supreme Court rulings. We are talking Delta “rules”. Any of them can be broken if the Delta person is willing to stick out their neck to do it. If a Delta rep in 2016 tells me “do you want me to get in trouble over this” I will simply say you should be striving for five and be willing to document why this action helped you earn your profit sharing for 2016.

Folks, Delta is going to push every bit of loyalty out the boarding door next year, up to us to fight for what our loyalty dollars offer us. I will do what I must to enjoy my travel experience in 2016 – will you? – René


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  1. Great Post! I have a question for you. Once I was traveling with my son from DCA-ATL. I was #2 on the list, and there were no seats available. After everyone was settled in, the PA said will passenger_________ please come to the first class cabin. It WAS the #1 on the list, and he never came back… Do you know why?

  2. One upgrade seat left and I am #1on the list. DTW gate agent says she cannot upgrade until 30 min. prior to departure, which is 10 minutes after preboarding has started. They no longer do on-plane upgrades so if I board with other Diamonds, I will forfeit the upgrade. If I wait 10 minutes, overhead space fills.

    Have you heard of this new “customer second” policy?

  3. @Glenn – Yep GA power play. This is where you play DYKWITIA card as NO WAY they can not find space for 1 bag for a Diamond. Like in closed. Ask to call Captain if you need to. Or a Redcoat. Or the head purser up and ask. Delay flight if you have to. I will!

  4. Rene,

    Thanks for a year of great tips. I would nominate your tips on SDC and schedule changes as the most useful.

    May I suggest an update on maximizing the benefit of fare changes within the 24 HR window as a topic for 2016?

  5. I am just getting into the Delta game this year with a new job – made FO (Silver for any rookies reading this) this month, hoping for GM by Spring- and this list is wonderful! I didn’t know HOOU coupons even existed. As a FO Sky Club member, am I eligible to receive HOOUs on my way out of the SC? Thanks again for all your Delta Insights!

  6. @Lisa – It is a wink wink and ask and mention you did not clear UG and could they give you a drink coupon please 😉

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