Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog 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 featured topic.
Rookie posts are all about breaking down, as simple as possible, a topic that confuses many. If you 100% get today’s math then please do not be hard on those who do not. I have had even very experienced flyers get confused on this topic so “rookie-ing” this is needed. Let’s jump in under the assumption you WANT to credit the flights to Delta!
First off, no matter how much Delta and other media has told you, the price of the ticket does not really matter when it comes to earning miles. Yes, when you are buying a Delta or Delta code share flight ticket it matters when it comes to SkyMiles and MQD (elite qualifying dollars) but after that it matters NOTHING and especially so when it comes to partners. Now that this critical point is out of the way, points two and three.
When it comes to earning with partners it matters how far you are flying and the fare class AT THE TIME YOU FLY. Again, what you paid matters not, just the distance and the fare class. Hold on to this as we move forward.
The next important part is just finding the charts on Delta.com so you can do that math and even have an idea of how much you are going to earn. Let’s sleuth out where those are hidden on Delta.com.
In the above two slides from Delta.com we see where to go and where to click when it comes to partner flights (again, that are NOT code share booked flight). Then when you expand the down arrow for the partner there is a very important box to click.
I really wish Delta had made this box a drop down arrow like the others that are clear but instead they just have a box with text. But when you click that box, and wait a few seconds (or more), notice that a new box pops up (make sure you have pop-up blockers OFF on Delta.com btw).
AH HA! “There you are almost hidden partner earning charts – I have been looking for you forever!” Yeah, I get that a lot when someone finds this the first time! 🙂
Now we are getting somewhere, and with all the above info we can do some math. Sometimes Delta does a very good job at estimating partner earnings but I like to do it on my own. Again, the data points we need, when looking at a ticket, are the distance flown and the fare class FLOWN (that latter part is important due to a Delta rule change that it is NOT the fare class at purchase with the partner). You can use THIS or THIS very helpful tool to find out how far you are going to fly from airport to airport. The tools are both extremely accurate and close to perfect (but not 100%). Lastly, keep in mind some flights may have a stop but are one flight number (two flights) and may credit differently. This is rare but it happens.
Now let’s use my recently AreoMexico runs as an example to understand the math from the charts on Delta.com. My flights were:
- Chicago O’Hare to Mexico City (ORD-MEX)
- Mexico City to Lima Peru (MEX-LIM)
- Lima Peru to Mexico City (LIM-MEX)
- Mexico City to Chicago O’Hare (MEX-ORD)
Now looking at my boarding pass above (that I focused on in another post here) I have pointed out the important factors we have already talked about. So how do the numbers work for this flight in an “I” class fare and me as a Delta Diamond Medallion? Let’s look at the posted numbers (again how much I paid matters not – I could have paid just ONE DOLLAR base fare):
- SkyMiles is 100% of the base miles (distance) plus class of service bonus and elite bonus (1.2x base as Diamond in my case)
- MQMs or elite miles is 200% of distance
- MQDs or elite dollar credit (again, not paid) is 40% of distance in an “I” class flown fare
So this is really not as hard as one would think – you just have to have all the numbers to be able to compare any flight with any partner you are considering. There can be times you want to buy a partner flight on the partner website and there can be times flying Delta will yield a much better result for whatever points you are looking for.
Is it really that simple? Yes. Don’t make this hard. Don’t over think this or confuse this with any kind of other spin.
Before the comments go crazy I will touch on a few exceptions and issues that can come up. I have seen all over the web folks griping they did not get credit and Delta said whatever flight was disallowed or booking at some OTA expressly excluded them from earning (it even says so on Delta.com). Well, maybe but my guess is most times the person was lazy and did NOT follow my directions to make sure you have a hard paper boarding pass with your SkyMiles number printed on it and the fare class (and ticket number) clearly printed on it. With that, getting credit from Delta is most times automatic and if a problem develops can be a real asset to help you. Beyond that yes there can be discounter fares that do not earn on the normal charts above but they are also the exception – not the rule.
There you are. Any other questions on this topic? Fire away! – René
PS – All of this still too much? Just have my friend ADAM help you book MAX earning flights! 😉