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A Bad Omen for Delta Partner MQD Runs?

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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.


To borrow an often-used line from the Star Wars saga, I have a bad feeling about this.

Reuters broke news late last week that Aeromexico — which recently filed for Chapter 11 — “defaulted on interest payments for two debt issuances.”

How much was the default? Three million Mexican pesos — or $135,000.

I’m no economist. But if Aeromexico couldn’t find that kind of scratch, something tells me the airline might be in bigger trouble than we thought.

Aeromexico 737 at Mexico City Airport

Losing Aeromexico would be terrible for the travel world in general. And Delta elite status pursuers would lose a valuable avenue to gain Medallion Qualification Dollars.

USA Today reminds us “Mexico’s government has refused to bail out large private companies, even those battered by the pandemic. Mexico’s other legacy airline, Mexicana, went into a Mexican bankruptcy proceeding in 2010 and never re-emerged.”

Ugh.

Delta Partner MQD Runs

When you book a reservation through a Delta partner, your MQD earnings are calculated by fare class and a percentage of distance flown. How much you pay for partner runs has nothing to do with how many MQD you make.

For example, this China Eastern business class run from New York to Sydney cost $3,141.65 — but yielded nearly $10,000 Delta MQD (and a ton of MQM and SkyMiles).

On the cheaper end of the spectrum, this Aeromexico trip from JFK to Quito cost under $600. But scored over $3200 MQD.

Or how about business class to Amsterdam for under $3000 — and pocketing about $6500 MQD?

AeroMexico 787 Business Class

I know people who book multiple runs back-to-back-to-back and knock out their status qualifications in well under a week.

These  MQD runs can make it cheaper and easier to reach higher Delta status levels (e.g. Diamond and Platinum) than flying solely on the mothership. (Plus, they’re in business class!)

Aeromexico is a great MQD run option. So is China Eastern.

But I’m worried these options may not be viable for a while — or maybe ever again in Aeromexico’s case.

(I know this will trigger some folks who will crow words to the effect of Earn your status ‘the real way,’ gamers! Well, these are the MQD- and MQM-earning methods established by Delta. Take it up with them.)

What Are Our Partner MQD Options?

Look, Aeromexico isn’t dead (yet). There’s still hope. AM, though, is great in terms of price and earnings.

I think China Eastern will be just fine. But MU is currently operating a very limited schedule. For example, they fly twice a week from all of North America. That will bounce back; though it’ll take a while. (Flying through China — especially to get some points, miles, and status dollars — won’t be high on my to-do list. For a long time.)

A tired, frustrated airline passenger sits in an airport.
(©iStock.com/Alina Rosanova)

There are other MQD options; though they’re certainly not as attractive as the Aeromexico and China Eastern “glory days,” if you will.

We’ve blogged some Virgin Atlantic runs to Johannesburg. Those are in premium economy — certainly better than standard coach — and earn 30% of distance flown. (The business class runs normally yield 40%). And every now and then, a nice Air France run pops up (like this one from JFK to Tahiti). But not having good business class MQD runs would be a big blow.

I bet the mileage run magicians at Juicy Miles can cook up some good ideas. But for now, let’s say a prayer to the mileage run gods that Aeromexico comes out of this OK.

— Chris

H/T: Larry K.

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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.


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6 Comments

  1. AM and MU flights are so important!
    I shudder to think the consequences if they go away.
    I have a JFK Mex GRU run first weekend in December – booked before the covid scourge and hope it will be safe to fly there if not, I hope will still have value for my ticket!
    Latham is gone now as an opportunity?
    What about Virgin?
    Major Pblm is US citizens are not being welcomed anymore
    Due to Covid-19
    🙁
    Do you think this has a political relationship?

  2. The last two times I’ve flown partner airlines (KLM) on a reasonably price Biz ticket, they gave me an “O” ticket – once from DL as my ticket broker and once from KLM. This “O” designation is usually for an award ticket. But the new DL guidelines also call this discounted Biz Class and you only get 20% of the distance flown for MQD. Of note, premium economy gets you 25% last time I looked. Each time I called DL and KLM trying to pay a few dollars extra to get an “I ” Biz Class ticket (40% of distance flown for MQD) and they told me only “O” was in the computer.

  3. These weren’t very good runs anyway. MEX is a horrible airport. Much better runs on KL and KE. Multiples of 2-3 are not too great. Should be shooting for multiples like 4-5.

  4. Chris you’re spot on about Aeromexico mileage runs. But one small correction: Five ORD-MEX-UIO turns in a row takes nine days to complete. Departing ORD in the afternoon you get you back to ORD 11:30 the following night. My five runs in a row started Jan 11 and ended Jan 20. Nine days. What a blast! I love the MEX Centurion. The UIO Sala VIP Internacional Lounge too. My 2021 Diamond status posted before the end of January. But COVID-19 came and my 2021 status now appears as Sky Miles Member. But thankfully I did get to keep my 2021 Choice Benefits.

  5. There was a great Aeromexico MR last year flying business class from Toronto to Amsterdam for $785. It netted almost 6,200 MQDs. Service of the 787s was pretty decent and only a five hour layover in the fantastic new KLM Crown Lounge 52! I’m betting AM will pull through, but who knows.

  6. BEWARE on China Eastern!!!! I have done that before. First let me say this… China Eastern is a nice airline when it comes to service and comfort. It is not great like many of the other well known international carriers like Sing Air, Korean Air, Cathy…etc. but it is definitely better than Delta. However, this is where their advantage ends.

    First, I am not a political person; but you have to understand and beware of the current political climate between the US and the Chinese government. Since China Eastern’s hub is in Shanghai, chances are you will need to change plane in China, which means you are a liable to be harass when you go through immigration. If your trips ends in Shanghai, then you will need to buy a $250USD visa or if you opt for the free (I think) 172 hours tourist visa, that is not guarantee that the Chinese government will grant it to you.

    Second, China Eastern’s customer service really sucks! They do have a call center in (I think) Los Angeles; but it does not operate 24×7. If everything goes well with your trip then there is nothing to worry about; but when there is an issue be prepare to spend hours on the phone. Oh, good luck if you book your ticket via Ultimate Reward (so you can cash-in 1.5X the value of your points) because China Eastern’s call center won’t even talk to you. I’ve done 3 mileage runs on China Eastern in the last 2 years — they all required customer service intervention before or during the trip because China Eastern made change to my itinerary. Last June, I was in Hong Kong and there was a typhoon hitting Hong Kong; so my China Eastern flights was cancelled. I could not get anyone from China Eastern to help me and when I talked to Ultimate Reward, they couldn’t get through either. There are plenty of other examples about how bad their customer service is; but I will just leave it up to the readers to try.

    On the other hand, Korean Air is excellent. End-to-end. From services, amenities, and inflight experience. I really loved it. I flew their A380 from JFK to ICN; and I was really please.

    RS

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