A Reader / Blogger Adventure to SXM St. Maarten – Introduction and Mileage Run Point Totals

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Yes, they are THIS close to you! 😉

What a crazy idea – that is, see how many readers and bloggers would show up and check off a bucket list item to fly to the middle of the Caribbean to one of the most legendary AVgeek spots on the planet, Maho Beach at the very end of SXM or St. Maarten airport. Without spoiling the rest of this series of posts let me just say in a quick nutshell this is a place everyone should visit and spend a few days. It is flat out EPIC and all you would expect (if you are nuts about aviation, that is). It was also great, in addition to readers, to have bloggers like Laptoptravel, Angelina Travels & The Forward Cabin join me!


Great Circle Mapper – www.gcmap.com

But I am getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start with my planning and the costs and what happened. While the above is what I booked including my positioning flight down to Phoenix, thanks to any number of schedule changes and weather events (that almost kept me from going), I ended up flying this:


Great Circle Mapper – www.gcmap.com

The funny thing is, while the first run “looks” more impressive in criss-crossing airports around the country, the one I ended up flying yielded just a tiny bit more MQMs and was a better choice. Now the breakdown:

  • I paid, all in for both tickets, $772.87
  • Used regional upgrade certs to/from SXM
  • Earned 13, 654 MQMs at 5.7 CPM

Now before you gripe about the cost – that is, the somewhat high price to net the MQMs (my goal number is always around 4 CPM) I did get to fly a Delta One transcon twice and used Delta bump vouchers to pay for just about all of the trip. This means my real out of pocket costs were really almost nil and that does play into the choice of the higher price. Plus, it is always nice to combo a mileage run and fun run to start the year (stressing over points is never ever fun in December). If you are new to this, I don’t care at all about SkyMiles but do really care about my elite points that are distance based (has not changed despite what you may have been told). But I almost did not get there.


Love the view from 32k!

If you were not flying last week you missed the “joy” of Atlanta all but shutting down due to the massive crippling blizzard that hit (i.e. a few inches of snow / ice). You see, having lived in Atlanta as a child, I get that they not only have no clue how to drive in winter conditions, but also have no way to deal with winter other than wait for it to melt. And when our Delta mothership’s heart is in ATL when that goes wonky we are all in a world of hurt. That happened. I was booked via ATL but thought I would miss the weather. I did not, and was impacted but thanks to the outstanding Medallion line made it to Phoenix just a little later than planned. Some say booking 1st class is the way to go but when things go wrong, being a top elite with Delta matters no matter what you paid for the ticket!


Not SkyGrub 😉

After a nice visit to THE CLUB at PHX, and meeting up with just 1 of the 4 travelers who planned to join me for the run from Phoenix (the rest found other routes to get to SXM) TexasYankee and I headed off on the real fun itself. We ended up landing in LAX after a less than 1 hour flight from PHX.


Almost the last ones on!

But then we taxied for OVER 1 hour to the gate (I am starting to hate LAX). Our transcon upgrade finally cleared as we were “driving” around LAX trying to get to the gate and we almost missed our flight due to the traffic getting to our gate. Ridiculous.


Prepare to feel cramped!

Once onboard I went to sleep as soon as we were wheels up. I have flown this Delta One 757 a number of times and I have to say that I am less impressed each time I am on it -that is, for sleeping. And getting up. And for personal space. And for space period. And for the food and on and on. Let’s just say if Delta is going to offer this as an exclusive non-upgrade eligible (without RU certs) transcon product and be able to compete with Jet Blue MINT and others they need to move to better seats than this one for sleeping. The foot area is miniature and even with my less than 6 foot height I found it cramped and had to sleep on my side to make it work. Not good Delta.


A warm welcome from Fly Delta APP.

Overall though I am just stunned how well, despite the weather, that Delta was willing to work with so many of us to get us to SXM even “combining” tickets for some to make it all happen and allow crazy re-routes. Delta hits a home run on customer service when it counts and got all but one of us to the island!


Notice the sign – right – #AVgeek!

Next up is a review of the Priority Pass THE CLUB at PHX. While nowhere near Delta gates, and requiring a number of trips through security, it is a nice lounge if you have the time. More on that soon! – René



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  1. I actually like the 757 seats better than the 767 in delta one. I find them softer and generally more overall legroom. The a330 and 747 are both much better than both

  2. @Jack – I am 100% the other way ie 757 vs 767. I very much like the 767 and will look for those flights when doing transcon.

  3. Thanks for posting your itinerary. I had been waiting to ask you what it looked like after you had-had an opportunity to rest following your epic adventure. I followed your exploits on twitter while on a mileage run of my own.

  4. @JR – You are missing the point of collecting MQMs along the way! 😉

    Plus, in this situation, ATL was all but closed for a number of days due to the storm.

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