Travel Related

Rookie Wednesday: All the “stuff” even Delta elites get wrong (and should know better)!

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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.

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.

It’s funny when you think about it but at least once a month this weekly series that by the title name implies is for those who do not fly all that much on Delta is targeted to readers who are always on Delta jets. You see even “pros” get so many bits wrong about Delta.

So this week let’s look a number of them and also for me to have a single post that will knock out a bunch of them. Also, and you don’t have to admit it, how many you did or did not know about.

MQMs from Delta AMEX Reserve cards sent into the following year. You would not believe how many readers tell me they wanted to wait until after the 1st of the year to have their MQMs they earned count on the following year. The slight problem with this is you can’t do this. They will retro count on the year before as they post in the year you EARNED them.

MQMs based on the cost of the ticket. Now I have to cut elites a tiny bit of slack here because when you do get into the top fare classes you can earn a 50 or 100% bump in MQMs but that bonus and the MQMs are still based on the distance you fly NOT the cost of the ticket. For example, if there is a “mistake fare” or something that ends up yielding a super cheap 1st class fare the cost means nothing – just how far you fly and the fare code for the bump up in earnings.

Diamonds missing out on Platinum Choice Benefit selection. I am shocked on this one how many Diamond do not understand that each year, once they hit Diamond, they get to pick BOTH a Platinum Choice Benefit as well as the now 3 Diamond Benefits each and every year!

Choice Benefit 2x when you hit Platinum or Diamond Medallion. Equally shocking to me is folks who think they will be able to double dip Choice Benefits. To be clear you get one choice for the medallion year you EARN. For example, if you now in 2017 earn your Platinum Status you are picking your 2018 Choice Benefit. You do not get one this year and another one next year – period!

Same Day Change rules (SDC). Again I guess I can cut readers a bit of slack on this one but not Delta agents that constantly get this (these) wrong. Here is the deal, if you are in PAID 1st class or PAID W class you can change if ANY open seat is available in 1st or in C+. If you are in coach the exact same fare class (or lower) has to be open. We all should know evil E BASIC fares are not SDC elligible. Clearly there are some other bits to SDC but know these basics at least!

What is FEBO and why did they run out meal choices in 1st class. FEBO is official policy at Delta but not always followed (but should be). FEBO is Front Even Back Odd and that means you have to pay attention to your flight number. If you have an even number flight the meal orders should start at the front of the 1st class cabin – if odd from the back of the cabin. This is why some just always sit in the middle of the cabin to make it simple!

I had to pay for my Delta ticket to get the bag fee waived. No you didn’t. As long as your Delta AMEX SkyMiles card (Gold, Platinum or Reserve personal or business) are showing up in your “My Delta” you are set for the bag fee waiver – what card or product you use to pay for you ticket does not matter. You may want to pay with your Delta AMEX card but you do not have to.

I have the (whatever) Delta AMEX so I can not get the bonus for (whatever) other card. Let me, again, make this as simple as possible. Each of the 3 big Delta AMEX cards are unique products and you can get the bonus for EACH card (all 6 of them) once in your lifetime. Holding one has zero impact on your ability to get the new card bonus for the others. If you have not had the other cards apply for a new card THEN decide if you want to cancel your old card or not!

One more on cards that is, how do I gift someone my Platinum Delta AMEX card MQMs to someone else. You cant’! They go to the card holder’s SkyMiles account. Only the personal and business Delta AMEX Reserve card allows you to send MQMs to anyone you want to (but even with this card not the new card bonus MQMs only the spend bonus MQMs)!

As a Delta Medallion I get free TSA Pre Check. No, you don’t. For the longest time many elites have, on a random or semi-regular basis, got Pre Check on their boarding passes (and some may still get it now and then) but officially that practice has ended. If you want to enjoy the perk of always getting Pre Check you have to pay. My suggestion is get Global Entry that is good for 5 years and costs $100 and includes Pre Check. Even better pay for that fee with a premium travel card like the non-Delta AMEX Platinum card and enjoy the $100 credit back.

These are the most common questions I seem to get all the time. Elites should know them all but often do not. What about you – did you get them all right? Since I don’t want anyone to feel bad why not vote in my poll below! – René


Did you get all 10 of these elite rookie questions right?

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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.

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.


  1. Rene, if i buy a V fare and if Expert Flyer is showing 0 avail for V but an E availability, can I SDC to it?

    • @Bob – I do not use Expert Flyer so can not help you. If you buy any (published) fare other than E BASIC you have the chance to SDC.

  2. @Rene,

    thanks for the quick reply, I was following up on your comment:

    “exact same fare class (or lower) has to be open”

    forget ExpertFlyer, if is still selling E but not V, can I SDC from V?

    Many thanks

    • @Bob – Interesting and I see your question. My gut says no and here is why. An E fare has restrictions all other fares do not have and why I doubt they would allow that and since V is the lowest non-E fare a V would have to be open. However, you may be able to argue that with a rep that a free change should be possible since a cheaper fare is open i.e. get them to change your V to a new V – see where I am going with this?

  3. Rene, can someone SDC from a First Class flight (ex: LAX-ATL-MIA to LAX-JFK-MIA) to a Delta One Trans-con connection if both routings are valid and a seat is available in DL One on the trans-con flight? Thanks for your help!

    • @Gary – The key is the route has to be valid. You will get reps that push back and say you can not change from a 1st class to a D1 route but you can. Again, as long as a valid routing HUCB till you get someone to do it for you.

      • Great! I want to make this change since an upgrade cleared using a RUC. Thanks for the quick reply!!

        • @Gary – Well a WARING there. a RU cert clearing does not auto-jump over when you SDC. If there is a schedule change then yes you can press for a RU to stick on the change.

  4. René, as a DM I didn’t know that if a gate agent changes your ticket class to Y because of an IROP (or bumportunity) you get 1.5 times the MQMs just as if you had purchased a Y class ticket. Sweet.

    • @Wayne – That is not how it is supposed to work anymore. In the old days YES that is what happened but not today. It should default back to original fare class. Why you got the bonus was someone did not just change you but reissued the ticket as a new Y class ticket. Enjoy when this happens now and then

  5. Not all CSA/FA’s understand SDC. I have used HUCA, (hang up call again) until you get an agent that is not worried about “fare class” availability.

  6. My best SDC request success comes from the DDesk when talking to women with “experienced” voices. They just know what they’re doing!!. If I get a male voice answering Im looking for reasons to HUCB to avoid wasting my time only to hear NO that can’t be done. Last week it happened to me twice on the same trip – out and again back. Man couldn’t/wouldn’t help women got it done! Has anyone else had similar W vs M results?

  7. Not covered but I’m going to ask anyway. Explain the +1 benefit. I’ve gotten three different answers from three different agents today and I don’t know who to believe. Oh, wait, yes, I do. Believe Rene! Thanks.

  8. Is the bag fee waived for an authorized user of the delta Amex card when that person is not flying with the original person?

  9. Re: FEBO, out of SEA on the West Coast flights like LAX and SAN, DL lately has a great salmon filet with pasta dish that is always under-catered, last few flights only had 4, and the other choice usually a shrimp or chicken salad. My last weekend SEA-SAN flight attendant insisted she had to take orders by status priority and she took it to the extreme that she took my order (DM) and would not take my wife’s order (PM) even though on same ticket, until she had gone to the other DM’s and then back to her as a PM. Fortunately there was still a salmon left for her or I would have gotten stuck with her salad.

    • @Stefan – I love FAs who think they are doing good but going off the company policy. I still long for the day 1st can pre-order like AA does. I still have no updates when that will happen as promised over a year ago from a company rep.

  10. If I challenged for Platinum and chose to gift silver medallion status, would that be for the duration of the 2018 year for them as well? or just up until feb 2018

    • @Nam D – Once you FINISH the challenge you will be able to gift someone Silver until 1FEB19 as your PM Choice Benefit.

  11. thanks for the quick reply. in regards to award tickets, for platinum members, they just waive the ticketing fee if it’s within 72, but you can’t cancel and have miles redeposited during that timeframe. am I understanding that policy correctly? their one asterisk says the following:

    *Note: Award Tickets and mileage upgrades must be canceled at least 72 hours prior to originating flight departure time to redeposit the miles.
    *Award Tickets must be reissued at least 72 hours prior to scheduled departure time. Miles for Award Travel are nonrefundable for flights canceled or changed within 72 hours of the original flight departure time. Please note that Award Tickets booked within 72 hours of departure are nonrefundable and cannot be redeposited or changed.

    just trying to understand nuances between UA and AA. I think UA will let you ticket, cancel, and redeposit at any tier withn 24 hours and AA it ends up being $150 for the first then 50 for each additional?

    sorry, the pains of having to diversify status, even at upper tiers

    • @Nam Duong – You do not get your points back if you cancel and award under 72 hours before flight. The only exception is if you book and award inside the 72 hour window you still have ~24 hours to cancel under that rule.

  12. i have to treat everything like a “bereavement fare”, even though bereavement fares weren’t around the first time I had to find out when 2008 at 18 years old. im pretty sure they let me standby for free, which is probably the kindest thing since im pretty sure that costs extra as well, even then

  13. I guess i know why AA EXP like UA’s new rule award rule change coming November. DL might have the fairest policy actually. From personal experience, UA’s Platinum line still has a decent wait and some things you can’t cancel online.

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