A Proud Tradition: SkyMiles Again Named Second Best Frequent Flyer Program. Congratulations, Delta?

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A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 with the registration N808NW takes off from Amsterdam Airport (AMS) in the Netherlands on April 21, 2015. Delta is one of the three major American legacy carriers with its headquarters in Atlanta. (Photo: ©iStock.com/Boarding1Now)

U.S. News & World Report crowned Delta SkyMiles the first runner-up in the Best Airlines Rewards Programs survey — for the third consecutive year.

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Review: HayLou GT1 Bluetooth 5.0 Noise Canceling Bluetooth Ear Buds (I love these little puppies)!

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

There were some just shockingly sweet Amazon Prime Day offers that were posted here on the blog. One of them was a big discount (compared to the price) for a set of Bluetooth earbuds. I have never had a set but always wanted one to use in my car as well as for short hops.

These seemed to be a perfect choice as the reviews were solid and the price, well, was as mentioned crazy low.

There is a bunch to love about these. First off they really are small and light. The storage unit, while also small, has it’s own built-in battery so when you drop them in they can recharge without a power cord (assuming you charged them in the unit last time, that is).

While I am, now years later, simply still in love, love, love with my NoiseHush over the ear headphones, they are large. They do mess up my hair (I know I know, #FirstWorldProblems). So these tiny buds are a great choice to pop in my pocket along with my Bluetooth transmitter for short Delta hops. They paired quickly and easily to my unit and produce astonishingly good quality sound with deep base for such tiny buds!

Inside the box are two tiny bits of instructions as well as replacements for the rubber inside ear parts. I used the middle size already installed and they fit and feel fine. The mini-USB cord will go into the box of other cords I have as I use my own retractable cords for my charging needs.

Now on to function. As mentioned, when attached to my Bluetooth transmitter, I enjoy excellent sound to both buds. But when I go straight to my LG V20 phone it will pair to both — but I can only use one at a time. Not a slam on the buds but my phone does not seem to allow dual pairing at once, that is, I have to click and choose what bud to use one at a time. But calls are clear and sound is good. Same goes for music.

Like my phone, my Windows computer connected quickly and effortlessly to the buds. But, like my phone, it would only allow one at a time use. I do not plan to use them with my computer and this was just a test so that does not really bug me either (it is time to upgrade my old HP, I have to say).

Other things I like and don’t like about these: I like that they do turn off automatically when you put them back into their storage unit but I do not like that it takes a few minutes to turn off. If I want to switch to my NoiseHush headphones, I have to press and hold for about ten seconds on each bud for them to manually power down to release the Bluetooth lock from my Bluetooth transmitter. A minor gripe but wanted to share.

The only thing I really have yet to test is the long term battery life using them. The 2-3 hour intended use should work more than fine and they should recharge between flights in my pocket when I have connections. I look forward to seeing how well it goes.

What do you think? Do you own a set of earbuds? Do you like them? Are you going to give these HayLou GT1s a try as well? – Rene

Rookie Wednesday: When Is Delta One *Not Really* Delta One?

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RenesPoints Rookie

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.

A Delta One business class seat on a Delta Air Lines A330 aircraft.

You’re excited! Why? You’re flying a Delta domestic route on a plane outfitted with Delta One seats — and have a seat assignment up front! Continue reading

Coming This Fall: All LAX – JFK Delta Flights on 767s with Delta One Direct Aisle Access!

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A Delta Air Lines 767-300 (tail number N177DN) departs from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). (Photo: ©iStock.com/Angel Di Bilio)

A Delta Air Lines 767-300 (tail number N177DN) departs from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
(Photo: ©iStock.com/Angel Di Bilio)

Delta will discontinue using a potpourri of jets on the LAX-JFK line this fall (maybe answering Renés question from 2017 if this really is a competitive premium offering for the market anymore). Instead, 767-300s will be the route’s sole aircraft.

Australian Business Traveller’s Chris Chamberlain writes the change goes into effect Monday, November 4. Delta will — as of this post — then become the only airline exclusively offering widebodies between LAX and JFK that includes direct aisle access in business class. (Although, we know United and American can’t be far behind.)

How is This Different from Now?

Several Delta aircraft operate flights between JFK and LAX: 767-300s (review here), 767-400s, A330-300s (-200 review here), and 757-200s (review here).

Flying only 767-300s means some differences in Delta One and coach. (Keep in mind this not the 767-400, which is in the process of being upgraded.)

Delta One

Delta One already is offered on all flights between JFK and LAX.

But the move ensures all Delta One seats on the route have direct aisle access: 36 seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. The 757-200 version of Delta One offers lie-flat seats — but only 16 in a 2-2 configuration.

Delta One on the 757-200.

The 767 Delta One can be a tight squeeze (definitely a first world problem!) but that’s better than no aisle access, which is the case in the 757s (agree?).

Delta One: 767-300 style!

It’s a bummer that the A330’s Delta One — the best domestic Delta One product — won’t be available anymore on this route.

Upgrade Opportunities?

All widebodies means lots of Delta One seats — and, obviously, upgrades aplenty to Delta One. Right?

Yes, all Medallions are eligible for domestic Delta One upgrades. Per Delta: “With all Tiers of Medallion Status, you are eligible for Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades to First Class and Delta Comfort+® as well as day-of-departure Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades to the Delta One® experience on flights within the U.S. 50 – including flights to Hawaii.” (Bold mine)

Let’s no get too excited.

Delta no doubt implemented this change so they could sell more Delta One seats — not charitably bless Medallions with free upgrades.

Domestic Delta One is a great opportunity to use Regional Upgrade certificates. In fact, that will probably be the only way many Medallions will see complimentary upgrades.

I’ve flown between LAX and JFK about ten times as a Gold, Platinum, and Diamond — and never once been upgraded to Delta One. Even as 1) a Diamond 2) using a Regional Upgrade cert 3) on a Saturday, I was shut out on a 767-300.

Exit Rows

The 767-300’s only exit rows seats are in rows 20 & 21 — part of Comfort+.

Seat 21A (exit row) on a Delta 767-300.

Seat 21A (exit row) on a Delta 767-300.

Take note, Silver and Gold Medallions and those who try to purchase exit row seats: there are no preferred seat exit rows on these aircraft. Only C+. Only Platinum and Diamond Medallions may be upgraded to C+ shortly after ticketing. (Or, of course, people who actually buy C+ seats. Remember there are now two C+ fare classes.)

If you aren’t Platinum or Diamond and plan on flying between LAX and JFK, now is a great time to make the leap. You can earn some fast MQMs through a Delta American Express Platinum or Delta American Express Reserve card sign up bonus. Also, consider taking an Elite Mileage Run or two.

While not an exit row, I will dearly miss row 35 on the transcon 757-200s.

My mother-in-law and wife kicking back in a 757-200's row 35 during a flight from JFK to LAX.

My mother-in-law and wife kicking back in a 757-200’s row 35 during a flight from JFK to LAX.

Take advantage of them while you can on the LAX-JFK route — or whatever lines the planes move to next!

Going Wide

Plenty of people don’t like 767s but, personally, I always enjoy flying them. LAX to JFK (and vice versa) is probably the United States’ most prestigious route; it should be served by wide-body aircraft.

What do you think about the LAX-JFK going exclusively to the 767-300s? Please share your thoughts in the Comment section below! – Chris

 

 

 

Delta Pre-Ordering First Class Meals for Flights Still Not Completely Working as Planned!

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RenesPoints.com broke the news that Delta’s first class meal pre-order would happen soon (well, it took 3 years). This feature has clearly been a long work in progress.

Since February 2019, Delta has offered international and US domestic first class passengers the option to pre-order their meal up to 24 hours prior to their flight.

But a few kinks still exist. Here are some we know about — and ways to work around them.

The Pre-Order Email

Delta’s news folks tell us:

 

“Customers in eligible markets will receive an email from Delta three days prior to their flight, asking them to select their first choice meal. All that’s needed to participate is a valid email address, listed in the customer’s SkyMiles account or in their passenger record.”

The first time I received the option to pre-order my first class meal was this March 2019.

Screenshot of an email inviting a Delta passenger to pre-order a first class meal.

Keep an eye peeled for this email if you’re upgraded more than 24 hours before your flight!

My wife and I flew Delta One round trip from LAX to Tokyo, Haneda Global Upgrade certificates for a quick weekend getaway-mileage run. Three days before departure, I received an email inviting me to pre-select my meal. The only passenger invited to pre-order a meal was me.

Pork meatballs, steak, a seafood medley (don’t get too excited), and vegetarian pasta were offered. (I ordered the pork meatballs.) I assumed my wife received the same email from Delta.

She did not. (Yes, we checked the spam filter and several Gmail folders like “Social” and “Promotions.” Nothing.)

So we called the Platinum Medallion line to see if they could help.

The only selections the agent had were “pork, fish, and vegetarian.” The rep had no idea the pork selection involved meatballs.  I had more menu information — and options — than the PM rep offered. My wife ordered her meal and all was good. (Until she was served said meal on the plane. Can’t say I recommend it.)

Delta One pork meatballs are one of the first class meal options that may be available for pre-order on Delta Air Lines flights.

Delta One pork meatballs – I highly recommend it!

The same thing happened for our return flight. I received an email and my wife didn’t. Again, we had to call the PM line for help. (And when we arrived in Tokyo, I tweeted @Delta for help changing my order from fish to pork.)

@Delta Twitter assisting passenger with first class meal change.

A month later, we took an overnight mileage run-date night and were upgraded to first class on three of the four flights. Each of those three offered meals (including the short-ish SJC to SEA ride on a Delta Connection jet — more on that in a minute).

First class meal pre-order menu on Delta Air Lines' website.

Again, I received first class meal pre-order emails — and my wife didn’t.


Confirmation that a Delta first class passenger has successfully pre-ordered a first class meal.

When I called Delta to place my wife’s order, the PM rep said the email notification system seems “random” — and not everyone gets them.

@Delta Twitter rep assisting with and confirming first class pre-order.

Delta Connection Flights

Some Delta Connection flights offer first class meal service. But according to a Delta rep with whom I spoke, only Delta mainline flights are eligible for meal pre-ordering.

What If You Don’t Receive the First Class Meal Pre-Order Email?

You have a couple of options to pre-order your first class meal in case you don’t receive the email from Delta (talk about a first world problem!):

Remember: get your meal request in no later than 24 hours before your flight!

1. Send a direct message tweet to @delta. They seem to have complete menus, whereas the phone reps don’t.

Ask the @delta rep if s/he will please tell you your meal options. In fact, the Delta Twitter team helped Rene order his meal five days before a flight (a full two days before the pre-order email may or may not have arrived).

Screenshot of a Delta Twitter representative assists a customer with pre-ordering their first class meal five days prior to a trip.

2. Call Delta directly. If you’re a Medallion member, call your designated Medallion phone number. If not, ring their central reservation line at 800-221-1212. Remember, they probably won’t know menu details other than “beef, chicken, or fish?”

What If You Don’t Pre-Order Your First Class Meal?

If you don’t pre-order your meal for whatever reason, flight attendants will still take your order onboard just the same as they have for decades.

Give yourself the best shot at ordering what you want: remember FEBO (and hope the flight attendants adhere to it!).

Food for Thought

Ideally, first class passengers could pre-order meals on the “My Trips” section of Delta.com or the Fly Delta app. But if sending emails is an issue, I imagine adding that feature is a pipe dream.

What have been your experiences pre-ordering first class meals? Comment below! – Chris

 

What is the greatest “sin” Delta can commit? Is it flying with an empty 1st class seat?

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Sorry no UG for YOU!

Now before anyone goes off about this being all blown out of proportion and there are much bigger problems in the world – I get that. Even though there are many elites who fly Delta they are a small subset of those who fly the airline. For everyone who is not an elite, this post is going to sound a bit whiny and an eyeball roll worthy #FirstWorldProblem-ish (or another Sunday rant maybe).

So with disclaimer done let’s focus on what may be the greatest sin Delta could commit? It is:

Flying with an empty 1st class seat!

And it gets worse. This event was from ATL to DTW that is from one Delta hub to another Delta hub. Now this was midday on a Saturday but you can not tell that there was not one single:

  • Delta360 Diamond Medallion
  • Delta Diamond Medallion
  • Delta Platinum Medallion
  • Delta Gold Medallion
  • Delta Silver Medallion
  • SPG Crossover Platinum

Sitting in the 100% full section of Comfort+ (especially those in a middle seat “upgrade”) who would not have liked to move up to the seat that flew empty the entire flight from Atlanta to Detroit.

From what I could tell the seat was not broken in any way as there was no tape or warning it was out of service and there was a blanket and pillow waiting to be used.

I tried to pull up the Fly Delta App to see how deep the Medallion upgrade list was but since I had boarded and we were in the air it would no longer show me the list but again there had to be someone on the jet in C+ really upgrade worthy I would think!

And that gets me to the point of today’s post. Is not taking the time to do whatever it takes to put some loyal medallion into a 1st class seat even if it means another minute or two on the ground worthwhile?

From Delta news on Delta.com

During my flying the other week I walked up to a gate agent in Austin at the 40 minute mark (since Delta.com says the time was moved to process upgrades) and I was told no-no-no 30 minutes before departure – go wait for 10 more minutes and then ask again. Sigh – guess you did not get the memo from the CEO?

Part of the reason for this change from T-30 to T-40 was to try to reduce visits from SHENA or that is gate shenanigans. But even worse that those kinds of games is simply not upgrading someone due to whatever (we were not late or rushed so no idea why this happened).

I would have loved to ask the FA to move someone up but they tell you that is not something they can do, it is up to the gate agent and that is a hard ask for when you are up in the air!

You tell me – is this the worst “sin” Delta can commit or are there others that are much worse? Feel free to comment below. – René

 

 

Unique Delta travel tips I bet you don’t know about! Are there others you can share as well?

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turn off air vents before your meal

Air vents can be “evil”

When you travel, over the past years, literally hundreds of Delta & Skyteam flights, you pick up a few little tips that really matter and sorta become automatic. Many things can become frustrations to infrequent flyers so let me share some tips you may or may not have thought about and that may markedly improve your Delta travel experience.

Before I begin, let me point out that many of these could be considered #FirstWorldProblems but I am fine with that as many readers tend to ride in the “pointy end” of the jet anyway. And when they don’t, some of these still matter and can have a real impact. Let’s dive in:

Shut off your air vents! That would be before your meal arrives. Most times the meal that arrives at your seat is not all that hot and ice cold air vents blowing on your meal is going to cool it off very quickly. Waiting for a bread roll to be provided? Yeah, by the time it arrives your meal will be a cold meal for you to enjoy.

Pull out your single headphone plug. The next one is a tricky one that may or may not work depending on a bunch of factors. Clearly the simplest fix about what I am talking about is the situation where you have a dual plug audio on the flight but your headset is a single plug. But if you don’t have an adapter one option is to pull the plug out just a tiny little bit until you hear stereo sound. Hopefully, and under many conditions, it will stay and you can enjoy the IFE with your single plug.

Careful to plug in “too” far. This is a strange one but I have tested it a number of times and you may or may not have run into this one. Have you ever plugged in your – whatever electronic item in need of power – and the light in the plug goes from green to off? Or, plugged in your laptop and thought it was charging (it was at first) but then all of a sudden it is off? The solution, many times, just like the headphones above is to simply pull out the plug just a tiny bit and then it works just fine. Silly yes but often works!

Shut your window shade! This one may seem like a “duhh” but it is so simple to miss. Say you have a night flight. I bet when you take off you likely leave the shade open. No problem right, as it is dark outside. However, depending on the direction of your travel, you may suddenly awake to brilliant sunlight waking you (and your fellow passengers) up way before you wanted to because you neglected to close the shade before you drifted off to la-la land!

Check you flight number before you choose seats. Do you know what FEBO is? Most who read the blog know but most don’t. FEBO stands for Front Even Back Odd. That is, if you are in business class, Delta most times will present food from the front of the aircraft on even flight numbers and from the back on odd flight numbers. This tends to be the case only on domestic flights but then again there are times that FAs just ignore this. Most times though, this tip can help you get your meal choice.

Printing a paper boarding pass can be like printing money! I have to admit I only do this on about 99% of my flights and regret it the 1% I forget. From bump improvements to so many other reasons having a real paper boarding pass can mean cash in your pocket. Just do this!

#TeamBoardLast. This one can help anyone from an SPG Crossover Rewards elite to a Delta Diamond. While Delta has adjusted the behind the scenes wording, the fact remains that as elites board they do give up their right to a real upgrade to 1st class. If you are the last man or woman standing and there is a seat open you should get it unless there is so much time left that the gate agent goes onboard to pull whoever was 1st on the list when boarding began. Know the latter is the exception NOT the rule.

Order a double. This one is a coach tip. If you are in C+ or if you are in coach and using a HOOU coupon, get two drinks when the FAs come by the first time. With so many folks crammed into coach the likelihood that they will come through a second time (other than to pickup up trash) is remote. If you want a refill do it at the outset – that is, do not expect a refill later on.

Learn when to split and not split a reservation. This one could be an entire post on its own but the quick answer is that, under the new paid ticket rules, keeping your +1 on your PNR is better but not always. On awards, however, it is almost always wise to split for more upgrades. Study up on this if you want to enjoy the best perks.

Consider a SDC or SDS. While same day change or same day standby are free for GM+ elites, others can take advantage of this from time to time. Say the chance to change is only a few bucks more but they want to charge a change fee. Offer the rep to pay for the fare class change and have them waive the change fee. Delta is all about the money and a chance to extract more from you vs. none may win out. Or, keep in mind, with 1st class any open seat is all that is needed to change (but you may still have to work on the non elite fee, fyi).

Lastly, never underestimate the power of the mighty Delta schedule change. Believe it or not I have had 3 minute changes allow massive changes. Thanks to SNAPP, Delta reps, who in the past had a brain and would just say no, now push the buttons and often the IT says YES to our requests. You have to love it.

So there you are. Many of these may seem basic and simple but they can help you so much when you travel with Delta. I pay attention to all of them and you should too! – René

 

The Unintended Consequences of the new Delta +1 Medallion Upgrade Process

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
tweet-about-upgrade-list-with-1s-included-delta-renespoints-blog

Tweet from @TravelingForBrews to @RenesPoints

Personally I am beyond thrilled that Delta has improved the medallion program by including your +1 on the same reservation as you for upgrades (if they are at least a SkyMiles member). I can tell you as someone who normally flies over 100 segments each and every year the 2 or 3 times a year my wife joins me it will be nice to have a shot at an upgrade for both of us and it will likely be on a weekend, even more improving my shot as a Diamond.

This change had to happen for Delta. From my days in SkyPanel I can share that folks from any elite level were just livid about not being able to bring their +1 into C+ as it was before (I know, not shocking news, everyone felt this way). So Delta had to make C+ upgrades work for +1s to keep mass defections from happening to other airlines. Adding the 1st class upgrades may have been to improve things or it may have been just due to the technology and the way Delta treats upgrades including C+. Either way, I like it (you don’t have to, it’s OK).

delta-air-lines-digital-hoou-elite-coupon-renespoints-travel-blog

Got HOOU?

But none of this interesting info is my focus for today. Notice the HOOU above? Have you spent any of your digital HOOUs yet? No? Me either. As a Diamond I tend to just about always upgrade and if I want C+ it is there for the taking. My guess is for you Platinums it is the same, but your upgrades are not quite as good as years past. Anyway, the point is I bet most of us have to give our HOOUs away to get them used up.

With the new +1 upgrades there will be even less reason to have these. Sure, I know, this is sounding a lot like #FirstWorldProblems but a perk of a program that is all but useless or goes unused does not provide value as it once did.

What I would like to see would fix “2 birds with one stone” if you will. Delta has an issue with midday food and food on flights that are long-ish that is say 700-900 miles or during the few hours a day that meals are just not offered unless it is a much longer flight, that is, over 1400 miles. So I suggest this simple fix to the HOOU issue.

Add a “Flight Fuel” food choice

It really is that simple. Now before you, and Delta, starts swooning over the cost I have more ideas. Right now Gold, Platinum, and Diamond medallions get a number of these and we can print them and have anyone use them. Many just give them away. If they have become more valuable make them so only the medallion named can use them and thus the perk is for that elite (or they can clearly spend them for someone with them).

Now I know all I have to do is pull out my Delta AMEX card and save 20% and just buy something but that is not the point. Delta should be offering meals on many flights they don’t and the HOOU to food choice fix would put the choice back on the elite and if they still gripe about food on some flights Delta can answer back with the HOOU option.

What do you think? Am I being greedy here or is a return to what a HOOU once offered a good idea for 2017? – René

If you had a chance to ask Delta CEO Ed Bastian for one program change – what would it be?

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
rene-de-lambert-from-renespoints-blog-and-ed-bastian-ceo-delta-air-lines

One on one with Delta’s CEO – Photo credit: thegate.boardingarea.com

Tuesday night I was invited to attend the private launch party for the very impressive new Delta Sky Club in the B concourse at ATL Atlanta airport. It really is a very nice open space to enjoy while waiting for your flight and I think I will find myself spending much time there.

Present at the event were all the “who’s who” from Delta including the CEO, Ed Bastian. I had not met Mr. Bastian yet so it was a treat and a chance, as a Delta frequent flyer, to ask the head of the airline I fly so much to please fix something for me/us.

Now your head may be spinning thinking of all the things I could ask him to fix for us. What would be the one thing you would ask? Would it be “fix SkyMiles”? Not going to happen and too broad and the head of SkyMiles was there anyway. What about give us more upgrades like before? Not going to happen either as the Delta president, Glen Hauenstein was there and he clearly likes selling upgrade not giving them to elites who have earned the perk. No I wanted to address one single thing that I really thought he could look at and change.

To be more specific, when I say Shena I mean gate agent shenanigans when it comes to elite upgrades about YBYL or you board you lose or #TeamBoardLast as I call it as there is right now no in print official policy. That is, an agent can, at their discretion, come on board and pull who was #1 (or 2 or 3 if more open seats) from their coach seat up to 1st class. But they don’t have to and this takes time to do and to move. The better way, IMO and often the reality, is that the last elites standing at the gate just before the door is closed get that open 1st class seat that was not filled by someone who did not make the flight (but was checked-in).

I asked Mr. Bastian to make it official one way or the other. To put it in print. I said we don’t mind following the rules – as long as we know the rules and the rules are published. Ambiguity makes us crazy. To me, having a Delta employee sitting in 1st class (domestically) when I have paid for a ticket and earned my status and the upgrade perk is a real slap in the face. However, if the rule is YBYL and it is published then I cannot complain because I chose to board the flight and give up my upgrade perk. Period.

Now you may say what about overhead space. Yes, yes, yes we have had this argument over and over but to me I am simply willing to risk it for a 1st class upgrade on a flight longer than say 2 hours. Under 2 I may just board. Let’s just live with the fact that it is a personal choice and if we had a firm rule we would know.

Mr. Bastian listened (I mean really listened – I was impressed) and said he understood the frustration and would have a team look at the options. I hope he does. This is fixable and would improve the medallion program.

champagne-at-delta-sky-club-b-party

Don’t spend SkyMiles for this 😉

The next person I talked to was the head of SkyMiles, Sandeep Dube (the photo above is not him just a fun shot from the party). I had meet him when he first started at Delta at the Freddie Awards a few years back. So if you had one on one time with the head of SkyMiles what would you ask him? I know there are endless choices, right. But here is the thing – Delta is doing so many of the depressing negative changes they did before he arrived as well as after he arrived like endless unannounced devaluations. I would love to ask for 1 year to book at the lower level before they go into effect, but unless the government mandates this to all airlines I doubt it will happen. Same goes for so many other options. So what did I press Mr. Dube about?

I have hammered this over and over for years that it is still to me one of the most crushing negative changes to SkyMiles ever. If you do not understand this you do not get how SkyMiles can work.

First off, the ability to stopover on a trip can be amazing. Spend two or three days in London or Paris on your way to somewhere else? Amazing right? I have treasured memories of just such short stops along the way for no extra charge in SkyMiles. And why should there be! I am not flying extra flights – just stopping along the way. Right now Delta allows a stop internationally up to 23 hours and 59 minutes (or less). Does it cost Delta more if I stopover 23 hours or 3 hours or 3 days? No. This is just a stupid rule and reduces the value of SkyMiles.

Next, a stopover can be the “glue” that makes SkyMiles work. Maybe an award can only be found if you are willing to spend a day or two somewhere along the way. You know, I am happy to spend a day or two in Amsterdam or Rome to get to where I want to be. Talk about your #FirstWorldProblems to deal with. Yes please! Sandeep said he would look into it and I hope it can happen.

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Shameless selfie – I know!

Next I got to chat with Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson. She is as nice in person as you see on video. She has a very good book on wine btw and she knows her trade. I mentioned to her the quality of the domestic wines are really bad. She knows all about this, folks. She did not say it but I have a feeling this is out of her control and cheap domestic wine is a cost centered choice. Her focus is the international flavors clearly. I asked in that regard if she could consider some red wines that have been aged in bourbon barrels as that is truly a unique and pleasant flavor (try some if you have not yet – you will like it).

So there you are. What do you think of my questions. What questions would you have asked these folks. Do you think anything I mentioned will change? What other changes do you expect from Delta over the next year either in SkyMiles or the Medallion program? – René

Can you bring 5 pounds of BBQ & ICE through TSA PreCheck? Yep! No problem (mostly).

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
hardeightbbq DFW texas renespoints

Have you been to HardEight BBQ yet?

For some strange reason, on the mileage run side of the blog, I keep finding good deals to fly to Dallas (oh yeah, it could be because of the Centurion DFW). But the other fun reason is a chance to visit HardEightBBQ in Coppell, Texas just outside the DFW airport.

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (1)

WAAAYYY to much S&H cost fees

I really like their brisket but shipping a “block” home is a bit on the expensive side. So that begs the question, can you simply bring one home with you? Yep, but it takes some effort and planning.

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (2)

I would, as soon as you place your meal order, ask them to get an uncut brisket and start to ice it down and wrap it up for you for transport.

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (3)

Thank you TexasYankee for this sweet bag!

The next thing you need is a insulated bag and preferably one that is as water proof as possible.

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (6)

Oh and the bag has to be large enough to hold a full large 3-5lb. chunk of BBQ goodness. But there is more you need as well.

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (4)

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (5)

If you were wise enough to visit the Centurion, the hand towels in the bathroom are amazingly absorbent and a few of them will work wonders to keep the bottom of your bag dry-ish. Oh and you will need 2 or 3 large gallon size zip lock bags that you can fill with ice.

security dfw

So will there be any issue bringing this through airport security? Nope, none at all as long as you drain any melted water out of your zip lock bags before you go through. Ice, believe it or not, is completely fine to bring though. The TSA folks did open the bag and then looked at me with a very jealous stare.

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (7)

Fly with HardEightBBQ from Texas with ICE TSA OK RenesPoints blog (8)

With a well insulated bag you should have no problem keeping it cold all the way home. The folks in the Centurion we even nice enough to top off my ice for me after a rather long visit.

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The end result was no shipping and handling cost and a nice souvenir from my visit to Dallas. Well, it was a nice souvenir, but now it is gone! Time for another visit I guess (anyone want to join me?)! #FirstWorldProblems – René

 

Delta 1st Class Cold Salmon Lunch – A Healthy and Solid Choice.

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
Salmon lunch cold Delta Air Lines 1st class review RenesPoints blog

Have you had the cold Salmon lunch?

Today, as I continue to give you an overview of a bunch of the Delta domestic first class meal choices for lunch and dinner, we take a look at an interesting cold fish choice.

I like fish. I love tuna. I like salmon if prepared right. Being of Swedish ancestry I have no problem with all kinds of cold seafood. Cold fish can be quite nice but it surprised me this dish was served cold by Delta as it could have been quite good warm as well.

Either way I chose this because the only hot choice was the “furniture polish flavored” lemon chicken that I just cannot stand, but Delta seems to put on almost every jet I fly. I know, #FirstWorldProblems.

Let’s breakdown this salmon choice. The amount of fish was plentiful and it was prepared and cooked nicely. It needed a bit of salt and pepper but those are always provided. The rice with herbs and what seemed like some kind of feta type cheese was excellent and paired well with the fish. Also the asparagus, peppers and yellow cherry tomatoes were all crisp and fresh. Again this all really worked well together as a cold almost salad type dish. A sliced of lemon was provided but that, again, is not my taste on food.

Rather than bread I was presented with La Panzanella crackers. These work and sometimes the bread choice from Delta can be rock hard. Plus, it can take until you are half done for them to come around anyway. I like the La Panzanella option.

Lastly we have a Dancing Deer caramel pecan brownie. Not my personal favorite choice but it’s hard to go wrong with the quality of Dancing Deer.

Hames Creek Winemakers Red California 2012 wine Delta Air Lines 1st class RenesPoints blog

This was just NASTY Delta. You can do so much better!

Then we have the wine. Oh my – how nasty. Anytime you have a blend that is just called “RED” you can expect it to be sub-par. I have no idea just how cheap this wine is but another Hames Creek Cabernet I found for as little as $6 online. I have had “Two Buck Chuck” wines that were better than this swill. Delta, why have you gone from somewhat decent domestic Red choices to this junk? You can do better. A #KeepDescending choice.

So there you are. This was a light, fresh and tasty lunch choice on the healthy side of life (just avoid the wine)! – René

My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta 747 Delta One Business Class review from Japan NRT Narita Airport

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

My Delta Million Miler flight – The planning & start of the run to Japan
My Delta Million Miler flight – TSA at Chicago O’Hare ORD Airport
My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta 777 Delta One Business class review to Japan NRT Narita Airport
My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta Gogo International Satellite Speed Review
My Delta Million Miler flight – 2016 Delta One TUMI Amenity Kit Black and Gray Review
My Delta Million Miler flight – Narita NRT Airport outside observation Deck
My Delta Million Miler flight – IASS Priority Pass Lounge Review NRT Narita Airport
My Delta Million Miler flight – Korean Air Lounge Review NRT Narita Airport
My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta Sky Club NRT Narita Airport near Gate 21
My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta Sky Club NRT Narita Airport near Gate 15
My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta 747 Delta One Business Class review from Japan NRT Narita Airport
My Delta Million Miler flight – Delta Million Miler Gift Choices & My Selection
My Delta Million Miler flight – Final thoughts of reaching one million miles with Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (1)

Click any photo for full screen slideshow

Boy does time fly by (not just up in the air). Let me apologize for taking SOOOO long to get back to finish up my MM flights from May. I have a few excuses why it took so long but let’s just dive right in again.

This had always been my plan but I really had no idea how I was going to get it done, that is, to be onboard a Delta 747 in Delta One when I broke that number and thanks to the Delta sale, and my Global Upgrade certs clearing I got it done. Was it all I expected? You could say that.

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I want to be in 0A seat! 😉

I was allowed to board early and said hello to the flight crew and, thanks to a Delta captain I know, the first officer had a surprise for me. He told me where to stand and to stick my head out the escape hatch of the jet and he would go outside and take a photo of it. I was giddy and followed his orders and even the reserve captain said he wanted a shot of himself doing the same thing when I was done.

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Did you know there was a “sun roof”? 😉

You have to agree it is a really fun photo (there is even a quick video here if you think it was photo shopped in any way). After this I set about getting some seat shots before everyone came on-board but it was a little rushed I hate to say. Again, I was just a tiny bit jazzed at this point.

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Oh look – C+

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (10)

Just for fun I ran back to coach and took a shot of the C+ row. Nice leg room but I would think this close to the lav you could get a bunch of folks congregating in your space. I kinda like the window seat though especially if I was going to sleep. Lets move up front.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (8)

The seating is 1-2-1 like all Delta international birds (other than the 757’s with 2-2). This herring bone design is just sweet and gives you a bunch of space and privacy as well. It pains me they are going away soon, that is, the 747s with these Delta One seats.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (6)

Perfect for two

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (7)

The real stars, if you are traveling as a couple, are the middle seats. You have a nice mix of space and yet are close enough to share. Again, just an impressive design. Next we head upstairs to my (and TexasYankee’s) seats on the upper deck in a 1-1 configuration.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (2)

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (3)

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (4)

My seat was 77A or the first one in the top photo so I had some extra storage in front of me but only during flight (clearly). With only 14 seats up top and two flight attendants (most of the time) you can guess how great the almost always great Delta service was.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (17)

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (18)

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (19)

I also love how simple and elegant the seat controls are on this jet. They are all right in front of you and simple to use and power is right nearby both standard and USB. Also the tray table is simple to use and out of the way when you don’t need it.

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The only minor complaint, and it seems to be one that is just about universal on all Delta One jets is the lack of storage space. Delta seems to think the only thing you ever need is the overhead storage and has built all the seats with this in mind. Confusing to me.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (12)

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (13)

The view, since you are WAY up in the air even on the ground was sweet. The only downside is you really have to stretch to get to the window with so much space in these seats. Yeah, real first world problems.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (14)

Got rice?

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (15)

I look forward to spending time in Japan rather than mostly just flying over it, but this trip was all about the miles not the visit. That can come another day and looking at the amazing landscape below I can’t wait to return.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (22)

Time for the meal choice. Now I know what you are thinking. Surely (don’t call me Shirley, call me René) he went for the Japanese choice out of NRT. No, I didn’t and I know I should have but there was a reason for this (but if I had to do it over again I would have gone for that). So to start off we had some cold beef. It was nice and I really like cold beef so that worked.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (23)

The salad course was less exciting and the soup was, well, I had a little. Let’s move on.

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (24)

The steak and rice was over done a bit and not as good as from the states (I know, I can hear you screaming at the screen that is why you choose the Japanese menu, stupid).

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Dessert course I normally go for cheese plate but this time did the Sunday. You see I was beat and wanted to sleep ASAP. I ate what I thought would be quick so I could turn in, sleep a few hours, to make sure I was wide awake when I really crossed the 1 million mile mark (see I told you I had a reason for this meal choice).

Delta Air Line 747 Delta One business class seat flight review NRT Japan to DTW Detroit RenesPoints blog (26)

And I was wide awake at the moment it happened. And I have to tell you it was memorable as Mr. TexasYankee himself had set it up to be a memorable event with help from the head purser and two FAs. I was speechless and must have blushed for an hour. Thank you all for the kindness.

So many times in life you build stuff up to be something in your mind and then when the event happens it is something less. This time it was something more than I ever could have imagined. I will now always be a million miler with Delta and, even though that does not help me get more upgrades or such, it is fun to have Delta folks recognize me as such.

What a perfect day! – René

Delta, Why Do You Skimp on 1st Class Snack Baskets? It Makes Me Feel Like a Coach Flyer!

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
first class snack basket delta when meal is served and short flights

Are you happy with just “this” in 1st class?

Since most of us eat every day and have three meals a day, talking about food, and food when traveling, is on topic to me. Delta sure cares about food and has a ton of rules and regulation of when you get food (domestically).

This includes a somewhat wacky system that if you depart during a certain block of hours you get no food even if, due to distance, you will get food other times. Oh and one last one, after 8 PM you don’t get “dinner” but until 9 PM you get a meal if the distance is long enough. Talk about confusing? All these rules make SkyMiles hidden award charts almost look simple by comparison.

But on to today’s topic that bugs me about the many “kinds” of snack baskets there are now.

During that “dead time” of meals on long flights in 1st class you get an “enhanced” snack basket if you will with more than just peanuts, pretzels and Biscoff cookies. You also get a special snack basked on flights longer that 900 miles in Comfort Plus or C+ as well call it (and we call the rest of coach C- btw).

However, if you have not noticed, on flights where Delta does feed you a meal in 1st class the snack basket is different. Delta apparently has decided this is an area where they can get cheap and save a few bucks. The result is on those flights, even if many hours long, you only get a basket of – you guessed it – peanuts, pretzels and Biscoff cookies. Welcome to coach snacks. Sigh.

Now I get this is #FirstWorldProblems, over the top worthy bits of Delta travel to complain about. I am also sure someone in accounting said if they got a meal they don’t need an “enhanced” snack basket as well, but that is missing the point. Delta is doing all it can to brand itself as special and above the rest. To yell to the world that they are worth it even if other airlines are cheaper for the same route with similar product. All that Delta does makes it better. Well, ending a 1st class experience with coach snacks is not the way to do this.

All Delta needs to do is ask any 50 FA’s who have worked 1st class to the reaction by passengers when they pass this basket. I know the answer as I have asked. Folks are disappointed and the result is normally something like this:

“Let me go back and get the C+ snack basket and bring it up if there is anything left over” – Something an FA would say

And this is what happens again and again because, as I talked about the other day, those in charge of the C+ section only ever come by ONCE to offer snacks or drink refills. Good for those in 1st who want more but bad for those in C+ who expect more because they maybe even paid more than C-.

So you tell me. Is this much to do about nothing or is it an area where going cheap lessens the Delta experience. You tell me and vote in the poll below! – René

Is just a Peanut, Pretzel and Biscoff cookies snack basket OK in 1st class?

View Results

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Dallas to San Francisco 1st class $479 & 9200MQMs at 5.2CPM one day Delta elite Mileage Run

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
ita dfw to sfo

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delta-com one day in sfo lowest 1st class

delta-com dfw to sfo good times

Please understand the irony of this post after this mornings post is not lost on me. However, never let a few tons of CO2 get in the way of just a smashigly sweet 1st class run. But also know this will not last at this very low price (almost a good price for coach, let alone 1st class)!

As you can see from the above you can do this and save a few bucks and depart later out of DFW enjoying a longer time, or position flight, at the Centurion in DFW. Or, depending on when you come in town, spend some extra time in the Centurion in SFO as well. Gosh it is great to have these kinds of #FirstWorldProblems to consider all the while picking up a boatload of MQMs in a quick trip.

Anyway here are the numbers in 1st class:

Cost: $479

9,200 MQMs at an amazing 5.2 CPM in 1st

Bookable on Delta.com via Kayak.com link HERE

 I have included the Google Flights or Kayak links and for those of you new to this, 1st log in to your Delta.com SkyMiles account and THEN you click the above links and it will, after you choose flights, send them over to Delta.com. Very simple! – René

 

Rookie Wednesday: If Mom says NO, go ask Dad! Almost anything is possible with Delta.

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

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.

seat error at checkin with delta air lines on delta-com

Find a way to work around your issue!

I always enjoy talking to Delta360 members when I fly. They are a unique select bunch of Delta flyers that spend more with the airline in a year than I may spend in my lifetime. They truly are people Delta loves the most. It is also funny to talk to them about what they don’t like about Delta and the things they do like. Some could care less about SkyMiles while others are really upset over the changes. Others, their biggest complaint is simply this: They don’t like fees or as some people call them “junk fees” for just about anything like a change or cancellation or you name it. Now here is the thing, Delta, if they ask, will always waive the fee for a Delta360 member – all they have to do is ask. But it bugs them that they even have to. Truly #FirstWorldProblems.

But that takes us right in to this week’s rookie topic, that is, if you are willing to ask, or even ask the right person, just about anything is possible with Delta. Don’t like a quoted fee? HUCB, that is, hang up call back and ask the next rep. Get the same answer from the next rep, wait a bit and HUCB again or even ask for a supervisor. Don’t like that answer, call the Asian call centers. The point is just by being tenacious and calling again and again (or even calling Asia – E9) you will, most times, get a different answer every time and will most times get someone to waive a fee if you push hard enough.

Then there are other ways of getting things done that you are told cannot be done. There are online choices like Delta Assist (DA) that can do amazing things. Take the screen shot of the error I got above trying to check in for a flight. I had no seat assignment and it was “blocked and under airport control”. Have you even been told that one? I got DA to lock in the seat. Then there are Sky Club reps. I have had Delta Red Coats tell me no, cannot do this or that no way no how and then waltz into a Sky Club and had a most helpful and kind rep fix what I needed in a matter of minutes (are we starting to understand the point of if mom says no, ask dad yet)!

Sometimes it takes creativity and effort. This is also why I almost always get to the airport early and especially so if something is not perfect in my reservation / trip. Now this is not a real world example that has happened to me but I could see it happening. Say you and a friend are traveling on the same flights but they want to charge your friend a bag fee even though you have the Delta AMEX card <-LINK. Officially that perk is only for those on the same PNR or record. But here is the thing, there are SOOOOOOO many things that can cause a record to be split. And once it is, it is impossible to put it back into one (yeah, this one really IS impossible – think “humpty dumpty”). But, what if you walk out of line and tell them you want to consider this. Then, you out of ear shot call Delta and get someone to cross reference or LINK the two reservations and to “note the record” that the two are joined as one. Then, go back to the desk, plead the case again and mention that they “check the record” as the two are for the same itinerary and linked and you should not have to pay the fee (again, if mom says no, ask dad). You could expand this idea to a great many things.

Delta made, and continues to make, mind boggling income from fees and “junk fees” each year. I think that is just great. That is as long as it is not from me or a RenesPoints reader. So understand no, can’t or not possible is most times just an obstacle to be worked around. You just have to find the right person or the right way to get it done! – René