A few hours from now I will land as a Delta Million Miler in DTW on a 747 jet!

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delta 747 from NRT RenesPoints blog

One, Sweet, Ride!

Man, has this taken a really long time. I have been flying Delta since I was a little kid since I spent some of my late elementary and early high school years in the suburbs just north of Atlanta. Then, for most of my adult life, I have flown Northwest as an SBN or South Bend flyer and now again Delta for many miles after the merger of the two airlines.

Delta 747s parked in DTW Detroit airport renespoints blog

Delta 747s parked in DTW

The result of this was years and years of BIS, or my backside in Delta and Skyteam airplanes, both turbo prop and jets flying everywhere I needed and wanted to go. For most folks who are not living every week on Delta this can take a long time as it did for me.

renes delta million miler totals

My totals when I took of from NRT

The shot above was my total MQMs or elite points when I started flying from Japan today / yesterday. Today, as you read this (unless something has gone sideways), I am in the air on a Delta 747, in Delta ONE, on the upper deck in the seat just above the Delta “widget” you see in the shot at the top of this post (neat right?)! 🙂

from flightaware tracking of delta air lines flight 276 from NRT to DTW

Thanks for help FlightAware

To be really specific, with help from FlightAware.com as you see above, last night I started my flight at 994,365 MQMs and this means that 743 miles out of Detroit, or about 200-ish miles north of Minneapolis (somewhere over Canada), I will cross the  1,000,000  mile mark of lifetime miles flown with Delta Air Lines. Yeah, kinda special and it only happens once in your life, that is, your first million miles flown!

This post really has me reflecting on all those miles and years. On how I got to where I am and what the “ride” was like. I have had amazing highs on Delta and enjoyed a number of outstanding redemptions for my years of loyalty to the airline. But I have also seen the current Delta MGT all but destroy any reason to continue my loyalty for yet another million miles. That really hurts and is also just irritating and frustrating because it does not need to be this way. SkyMiles could drive people to love Delta, not drive them away.

But I am jumping ahead. I am a true AVgeek at heart. I love flying. I started in college flying and planned to sit in “0A” for a living but that did not work out. I also come from a family of relatives who have spent lives, either civilian or military, in aviation. From flying to ground to maintenance, many generations of family who love aviation. I have that same bug. I love flying airplanes myself and love everything else sounding the industry as well.

email from delta about becoming a delta 1mm renespoints blog

Soon I will get this email from Delta!

When I started blogging, now almost 5 years ago under the name “Delta Points”, I was about as unabashed uber Delta fan boy as you can get. I defended against one and all how great, both flying Delta was, as well as the award program was. Those who were not on-board with how great SkyMiles were truly were just lazy or did not understand how to use the perks of the program. 5 years later much of that value has evaporated like a vapor trail in a dry clear sky.

Now I am not talking about the Delta people, I am talking about those in charge of loyalty. My greatest frustration is that Delta was on the cusp of just crushing all the other airlines (domestically). Operationally they figured it out. But at the same time, rather than listening to those in marketing, the bean counters guessed that decimating loyalty would be fine if they only completed every flight each and every day. Yeah, that is not “all” that matters to many like me.

delta million miler gift choice

What gift should I pick?

So where am I going now (other than up in the air). I will, when I land, have Silver Medallion status for “life”. Well, not life but as Delta folks now have “enhanced” the wording to say “annual” so that it can maybe be pulled if they want to without major repercussions. I get that Silver status still has some perks but year by year it is cut not just by Delta but by other Skyteam partners as well. Does that mean I should press on now for 2 million miles? That is a tall ask in the current environment. Plus, given the way the last 10 years have gone, I would think Delta MGT is going to by that point make Gold as lowly in value as Silver is now.

But at the current point I have Diamond status this year and next. It seems, for now, Delta will not change the current earnings program for a while so if I keep flying Delta for the rest of the year, and crediting to Delta, I will also have Diamond status for 2017 and 2018. Considering how hard upgrades are getting, due to uber cheap FCM sales, this is less of a prize but as I talked about in Monday’s post I need at least Platinum status to burn up my rather large stash of SkyMiles (hardly a ringing endorsement of the value of status in this day and age, I know I get that).

Should I look at what so many others are doing who have spent most of their life loyal to one airline or another and just go “free agent”, that is, just book 1st class on whatever airline will get me from A-B with the best product (or coach if a short trip)? Maybe, I just don’t know yet. And to me, that hurts. It should not be this way with Delta.

rene with head out the 747 escape hatch NRT airport RenesPoints blog - small

For now I will bask in my accomplishment of being a million miler. I will look at what gift I want to pick out as a “Thank You” from Delta for reaching this milestone of flying (a nice touch I must say). I will look forward to my new Diamond cow bells i.e. luggage tags with 1M on them. I will enjoy being thanked for being a million miler by the outstanding Delta people I see each time I fly. I know this will not improve my upgrade chances or anything like that but just the recognition from Delta folks will make me smile. – René



  1. There is no reason not to be a free agent. Take the best flight that suits your schedule. Consider the price/time tradeoff and move on. Elite programs offer so little value to people like me (150,000 miles a years spread out between AA, DL, B6 and – gasp – even a little UA) I cannot get to 100k in any one program unless I want to connect all the time which I cannot do. I find the free agent thing to work really well. And, I can periodically rant about all of the major air carriers when things go badly!

  2. Well, GFY. But what exactly you expect from that Silver status for life? Well, it is better than no status but nothing to be happy about.

  3. Congratulations to you, René!

    You just reminded me: I still never selected my gift since I crossed that threshold several years ago. I hope that it will still be honored…

  4. @Brian – I would think they would. I will let you know if their is an expiration of “must claim by” date on my MM mail.

  5. Congratulations! Traveling for business now, I value mid tier and upper tier more because of the waived rebooking fees if I choose to change flights to accomodate late meetings/training sessions. I travel on United mostly since my company uses them anyways. No biggie for me.

  6. I think you hit it right on the nose with your last line

    “I will enjoy being thanked for being a million miler by the outstanding Delta people I see each time I fly. I know this will not improve my upgrade chances or anything like that but just the recognition from Delta folks will make me smile.”

    I’ve always said that being a million miler is a bucket list item, but if I end up being a 2MM, I did something wrong with my life.

  7. Congratulations!
    Interesting that Million Milers are always included when the FA gives the Thanks blurb on flights; however, that is about the only recognition one gets any more. It would not take much for Delta to improve the Program but as time goes by and the ranks continue to grow guess there is no need.

  8. Rene
    Congratulations — I made the million + when my NW and DL miles were combined. I’m a Diamond at 1,830,000 miles and if I keep working at it will likely hit 2 MM next spring. And for ST E+ is a useful benefit for international lounge access. Wish it were this year that I get to 2MM, but….
    Although things aren’t as good as they used to be, with some careful planning I can snag low level awards, treatment during IRROPS is exceptional, I get thanked by name more than any other business I deal with. And my colleagues who are have similar status with AA and US aren’t any more satisfied with how they are treated.

  9. Delta could make lifetime Silver Elite much more valuable by starting everyone with that status with 25,000 MQMs each year. Otherwise, not much benefit for a lifetime of loyalty on Delta. Congratulations, Rene. Oh, don’t forget to claim your Tiffany jewelry for your wife.

  10. Welcome to the club! 2MM here — now a free agent given the reasons you state. Used to pay up to fly NW or DL. No more.

  11. Congratulations Renee! I arrived at 2MM+ a few years back, all out of your backyard at FWA. This was only because DL was the only carrier there that did not connect through ORD. Years and years through ATL and CVG.

  12. Congratulations! You may be dismayed to learn that while you will be gifted lifetime Silver Medallion status, the mileage counter each year starts at zero miles not 25,000 (not including rollover miles). Also, check today’s 5/12 WSJ article on best airlines for flier rewards. No doubt it will move many Delta fliers to Southwest!

  13. I have 2.92 MM and don’t ever remember being recognized by a crew member or a gate agent for being a million miler. Instead of recognition, I wish Lifetime Platinum came at 3MM vs. 4MM

  14. Im so excited to see your million mile post, ive been waiting!!! You live the dream! I enjoyed every word of this last blog even though some of it makes me sad at what we have lost and will loose. I owned a service company for 30 years before retiring and you are spot on. If the Bean counters are allowed to run the business they will ruin it, accountants and financials are basic but they dont spin the dream!!! I have nearly 600k in miles and at 60 i doubt i can rack up to get where you are at but i love reading about your adventures and advice. And another hats off to adam and john at juicy miles, ive used their help three times this year and will be diamond before my next trip thanks to you and them both!! Enjoy the upper deck, it is the best seat ive ever had and i will sorely miss th big bird!!!

  15. Way to go Rene! You made that millionth mile in style on a 747 upper deck.

    I made 2 million miles on delta, but see no way I will ever get to 3 million much less 4 million with them as I have switched to AA which allows using miles for international first class and EXP status grants access to international first class lounges even when not flying first class.

    The perks of top status still matter to me. The way ff programs are going, that may not be true much longer. Then it will be time to test free agency.

  16. Congratulations to you, my friend, on FINALLY reaching this milestone. It is quite an achievement to spend a million flown miles with your butt in a Delta seat. I remember conversations at Chicago Seminars on your anticipation of hitting the one million mark; seems like a long time coming. Just an FYI, I also reached my milestone over Canadian air space 🙂

  17. Congratulations! … and welcome to the club. You did it in a fantastic way in a 747. I would be curious if they get your name right in the email and letter they send you. I got mine last month, they goofed on mine. It said Dear “Last Name” calling me by my last name instead of the my first name. Either that, or they forgot the Mr. as in Dear Mr. “Last Name.”

    And there was no announcement on the plane. A retired FA tells me that she loved making those Million Miler announcements onboard. No more, I guess. I was surprised to receive new luggage tags with both Million Miler and Diamond Medallion on the tags. Nice.

    I chose the 40K.

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