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What’s it like to take a Delta (elite) Mileage Run? Yeah, kinda like this – and really fun too!

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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.

Finding REALLY cheap Delta (elite) Mileage runs is not easy. I say (elite) because all the big US airlines, other than Alaska, give you frequent flyer points based on how much you spend. However, with Delta, you still earn full elite points based on distance and fare class paid (or even upgraded fare class).

Since the above is the case, and if you value status, Delta mileage runs can still provide value if it means it can help you reach the next elite level (this is a very personal choice). If you are simply going to fly for no other reason that collecting points then it has to be cheap. Really cheap or really a huge yield. For me I like paying under 4 CPM (cents per mile – for each elite point) in coach and under 8 CPM in 1st class. Not a hard rule but a guide for value in my eyes.

Finding 9+ seats with the above conditions can be almost impossible but this run I posted, and over a weekend no less, got reasonably close. Plus it is cheap to either fly or drive to Chicago to “position” i.e. fly to the start city and fly home (or drive for many).

A number of us met up at the Hofbräuhaus Chicago for dinner Friday night. Decent food and beer but holy cow that place is LOUD. I think for the next run I will find a better place so we can talk about points without yelling. 🙂

So Saturday morning everyone made their way to the O’Hare Sky Club. Most of us were already in 1st class the entire trip or at least C+ on a few legs (more on this in a bit).

I personally used a soon to expire regional upgrade for my outbound legs and, since it was a Saturday after all and I am a Diamond, chanced it for a free upgrade on the return.

Many got in, a few weeks after booking, on a cheap ~$100 upgrade offer for the entire trip that not only got in first class but also meant bonus MQMs or elite points, the entire point of the trip after all.The trip out to Seattle was just about perfect. We had gate to gate fast 2Ku Gogo wifi.

A decent breakfast Omelet. Great Delta service from the crew and then some time to enjoy the amazing Delta Sky Club in Seattle before our flight to Portland. That is where something fun happened.

You see Delta will, now and then for elites, drive you gate to gate or gate to the Sky Club and so on. A rep had just dropped off someone at the club and I asked if she had another pickup right away. She did not. I asked if she could give a quick airport tour to 3 top Delta elites (and million milers) who had never had the Porsche ride. She agreed and they got to see a view of the airport few ever get to see. Good times!

The 27 minute flight to PDX was quick and at that point most of us parted ways. I had to change my ticket to fly home the fastest way I could and due to the schedule change I got it free and even was able to route back to Chicago Midway to save me more time getting home (but did mean less miles – ah well). BTW I did not clear my upgrade at the 5 day mark with 6 open seats in 1st class. However, at ~3 day mark there were now 8 open seats and I did clear overnight.

As one little data point, if you are in MSP, the Escape lounge change from priority pass on only those who hold the non-Delta AMEX Platinum cards has made this club much less crowded. Plus, they do have much better quality drink and food choices than the Sky Club on the concourse below.

So how did we do since a run is all about the numbers (#ProTip: this is a simple tool to check Delta elite points). I paid $223.60 round trip (mostly with a voucher) and with my route was ORD-SEA-PDX-MSP-MDW resulting in 4151 MQMs at 5.4 CPM. Others went ORD-SEA-PDX-SEA-ORD for 4402 MQMs at 5.1 CPM. Those who got in on the free schedule change via ATL ended up with ORD-SEA-PDX-SEA-ATL-ORD for 5460 MQMs at 4.1 CPM. Even better those who did a cheap 1st class round trip buy-up for $100 paid ~$323.60 and got in via ATL ended up with 8190 MQMs at 4 CPM all in first class!

Bottom line this was a really fun quick weekend run. It was great to meet a number of old frequent flyer friends and some new ones as well (great to meet you Derrick, Yun, Tim and a few more as well).

You never know what is going to happen on a “fun run” and I am working on plans for something special next year out of Austin. It may include some BBQ stops, some frequent flyer instruction as well as a run at the end. Only in the planning stage so far but be sure to follow the blog for more info later on! – 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.


  1. There’s nothing more fun than an elite mileage run! Each leg is another adventure.

  2. Derrick Tennant Reply

    THIS was even better than expected. Thanks friend! Can’t wait for the next one. AND, I already got my headphones : )


    ps don’t forget the Austin run will include a comedy/ magic show : )

  3. I understand elite runs. I just completed a Miami to Narita run in coach (yuk!) to finally fly on a 747, to earn 15,032 MQMs and to achieve Platinum status. I spent 26 hours in Japan before my return flight. Tough but I consider it a great adventure. ✈️

  4. Oh, I forgot to say my Miami-Narita flight cost me $550 (3.65 cpm). Sweet deal found on

  5. Thanks again for organizing this run. It was a blast. I am looking forward to joining you on a future run!

  6. I just finished your Manila mileage run with a coworker and it was amazing. I used my GUs and we both flew in FC and Delta ONE the whole way. Of course only the DTW-NRT segment was on the 747, but it felt special. They even announced it’s retirement onboard.

    We stayed at the Conrad and were upgraded to bayview multi-room suites, which were incredible. Two night total for that stay was 70k points. Total! That hotel just about anywhere else would have been 3x that amount.

    I highly recommend you all go to the historic Intramuros neighborhood and just walk around. I would start at Fort Santiago built in 1590. Well worth the visit. There are different cathedrals and Plazas to visit as well. There is a nice little curio shop on the street leaving Fort Santiago headed to the big cathedral on the left. Everything is half off the listed price and prices are very cheap. Got some neat little carvings for less than $15.

    Ubers are insanely cheap and plentiful. took around 5 of them, 2 being UberBlacks(not always available) and our total spend was $15.

    The people there are some of the nicest I’ve met on planet earth. I hope you all have a great time. @Rene let me know if you have any questions about Manila and I will try and answer.

    • @Adam – Sweet. My main one that I think someone else confirmed, is that you do NOT have to enter Manila if you have a tight turn??? That is I am just going to the lounge then overnight in airport so I can do that when I deplane in MNL? Thanks again Adam!

  7. @Rene
    That is correct. You could stay in the airport(there were signs going other directions for transfers vs landing and going through customs), but some lounges are outside security and some are inside. Either way, it took us 5 minutes(maybe 7) to get from the plane to the street. It was super quick. (It should be noted the terminals are very separated from one another. They are essentially different airports. There is not any way to transfer between terminals within security. Delta arrives and departs from Terminal 3 so if your lounge isn’t there, you are taking a trip outside the airport on a shuttle bus). Also, the longest line in the morning was to get into the actual airport(and that was a Monday morning-a busy time). Once in the airport all lines were very quick(with SkyPriority and only a carry-on). 15-20 minutes tops, including getting into the airport.

    Getting from the plane to exiting the airport was probably the quickest and smoothest customs experience I’ve had in like 20 countries, including the US and Global Entry. We kept looking around like there would be more checks or lines. From the plane we walked right up to(k, its a little walk…) the customs agent with my tiny declarations form, she stamped my passport, took my picture and done. It looks like there are other checks at baggage claim but there are not. Just walk out to the main arrivals section, get some Philippine pesos at one of the banks there if needed, and walk out and snag an uber. It’s easy enough I would have a late dinner in the city and come back and hang in one of the lounges if leaving in the morning. Many places to eat within 15 min of the airport or less. Saturday is a happening night and Sunday is a big family day out depending on when you arrive.

    Hope this helps. Have a great trip and good luck on the upgrades!

  8. Question – Is there such a mileage run to hit your MQD status? I want to do one of these mileage runs as my MQMs are fine, but trying to bump up the spend to hit the next elite status. Any ideas?

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