I have been blogging for almost 10 years now and have been chasing some sort of Northwest / Delta elite status for even longer. The first time I ever achieved any status was Silver Medallion on segments as I was back and forth to visit family in the Myrtle Beach area often and did the triple connect from South Bend to Cincinnati to Atlanta each way. While this may sound painful, the flights were constantly oversold and there was hardly a trip that did not end up in one of the 6 segments paying out a sweet bump voucher (sometimes even two in a row)!
Anyway, I was quickly hooked as Silver status way back then mattered and resulted in a few 1st class upgrades and great service from NWA / Delta folks as well as Skyteam partners. The next year I made it to Gold Medallion with my first ever mileage run to end the year. The following year it was Platinum Medallion and I worked hard for a number of years to keep that and it was relatively simple with creative spending and the Delta Amex Reserve card waiver with at least $25,000 in spend each year (often done in one purchase paying – or over paying – my taxes).
I have now been Diamond Medallion for a number of years. I have accomplished the jump from Platinum to Diamond Medallion by tossing in a few SkyTeam partner runs that yield HUGE points and MQD credit for very little cost on top of all my normal yearly flying and Amex card spend.
That was all pre-COVID.
What now? So much has changed that this year has my brain spinning in ways it never ever has. I think most bloggers now feel airlines status is just not worth it anymore. In any “normal” year I would strongly disagree. Even flying only once a month, Gold Medallion or higher can significantly improve your Delta and SkyTeam experience.
What about in a non-normal year?
Yeah, we need to talk about this a bit starting with the good news that Delta has eliminated SkyMiles award ticket redeposit fees. That, for as long as I can remember, was a massive reason and value proposition to go for at least Platinum Medallion status for flexibly. Now that part of the elite equation is off the table.
This year is just frustrating!
Now I get there are much larger issues facing all of us just now, but this post is all about status so keep that in mind please. I am only weeks away from having not set foot on a jet for ONE YEAR! I can hardly make my mind comprehend this. I have no plans to fly until at least two weeks after my second vaccination and the way it is looking right now that may not be until sometime late in the summer or even into fall!
OK but what about 2021? After all, since January 1st, all flights are counting toward next year’s status. Also what about Delta Amex card(s)? Here is my plan.
At some point this year I will upgrade my downgraded Delta Amex card. I am ONLY doing the upgrade, vs. getting a new card, because I have already had the new card bonus for ALL of the Delta Amex Cards (both personal and business) over the past few years and thus don’t qualify for another one under the once in a “lifetime” rules. I will likely upgrade to only the Platinum card and knock out the $25,000+ in spending to be at least Platinum Medallion for 2022 with my current bank of MQMs. What about flying?
This one I am playing by ear. It really depends on how fast I can safely get back to regular travel before I consider pushing for Diamond again for 2022. Now I fully expect 2022 to be mostly back to normal travel and even with all the changes, being Diamond would be nice but will it be worth pushing it in Q4 this year to get there?
Maybe. Here is why.
The idea of ending the year with a flurry of travel, including a few mileage runs, could really be fun and a way to catch up on so much that has been missed. If I go for this plan it also impacts at least one of my Diamond Choice Benefits selections I have to make before the end of this month i.e. I may want to grab a Global Upgrade for one of my fall trips. Locking that in now vs. say just taking more SkyMiles that don’t expire until I do seems the more rational choice but a lot less fun than the hope of a great trip to end the year in Delta One!
But maybe I should just wait – OK do tell.
Clearly I am going to take care of the card upgrade / spend as outlined above but as to mega flying maybe there is a smarter – but more tiring – choice. A few years ago my wife went from no status to Diamond in just under 6 months. That was a LOT of travel to start the year but the result was the better part of two years of Diamond Status. And this can be done really fast if you push it. One of my dear friends to start 2020 qualified for Diamond in a matter of weeks with a number of SkyTeam partner mileage runs.
So, wait, I have read this whole post and you are not telling me your plan after all?
OK, fair enough, here is what I am going to do.
I am going to plan to crush it as soon as I can this year, that is, hopefully getting going in Q3 and finishing with a flurry in Q4. I am so longing for travel that why not load up and rock it when I can do so again! This will mean I should have, once again, a decent amount of MQMs to rollover come January 1st of 2022 to give me choices for 2023.
I will toss in one tiny disclaimer. The above is my plan but it clearly depends on availability of vaccination. If, for some sad reason, I can not get that done until say November 1st (shudder) then I will shift to my latter idea of hammering it in January of 2022.
Unless Delta once again decides to again rollover status for another year but I really hope there is not a NEED for that to happen yet again!
What are your plans for Delta Amex cards for this year as well as Delta elite status for this / next year? – René
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