Point Me to the Miles

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Archive for the category “Delta”

Delta’s Possible & Unfortunate Changes

Delta is rumored to be considering making quite drastic and horrific changes to its mileage program, per this FlyerTalk post.  The changes would start within the next month or two, and take full effect by the end of the year.

The proposed roll-out would work as follows:

Announcement

The Loyalty Program is comprised of two projects that seek to increase revenue and customer loyalty along with
decreasing liability related to unused award miles. Coordinated communication to the general public regarding the
intentions of these changes is paramount to acceptance.Revenue Based Mileage Accrual (RBMA) project shifts the basis for awarding miles to a revenue based accrual approach
Release 0: Support the communication/announcement of upcoming SkyMiles program changes (targeted 1Q12).
Will no longer display distance flown miles for departures after new miles accrual effective date (targeted for 3Q12)
Release 0.5: Provide Mileage Calculator to calculate approximate revenue based mileage accrual based on travel
after launch ((targeted 2Q12)
Release 1: Convert SkyMiles System from flown miles to revenue based mileage accrual (3Q12)
Release 2: Reward SkyMiles members with miles for all non-air purchases (i.e. SkyClub, Seats) (currently On Hold)Fare Based Award Ticket Redemption (FBATR) project
Fast Track Release – Provides limited base functionality to align with the Polaris Chicago release timing

Phase I at Launch introduces Fare Based Award Redemption Model, Single Shopping Experience for Customer, New Award Inventory Controls, Cash + Miles Award Redemption Product, Award Redemption for OA, Modifications to the automated Award Refund, Redeposit, and Reissue and Exchange Process

Phase II – After Launch includes Bid for Price Award Redemption Product, Buy It Now Award Redemption Product, Volume Discount Award Redemption Product, Modifications to SkyMiles Branded Mileage Upgrade Products, and Modifications to SkyMiles System-Wide Upgrade Certificates.

My Thoughts

So essentially mileage earnings from flying would be a largely distance-based formula, to more of a revenue-based format.  And to some extent, Delta already has this in place with paid first and premium fares(specifically M, Q, H, and K fare codes) earning a 50% mileage bonus over regular fares.

Where I think this hits the hardest is you as a passenger, and by extension your elite status, become defined by the fare that you pay.  So flying around on cheap T and E fares would be much less advantageous for earning status, in addition to the lack of advanced seating on said fare bases, according to Ben.

Plus, this devalues the use of miles for aspirational travel.  The amount of mileage required for award redemptions would be based on the cost, and thus would be come an inapropriatee and (cheap) replacement for replacement for money.

Conclusion

Overall, I think these changes would reflect poorly on Delta, especially given the inability to redeem for international first class, award booking difficulty–both of which have given them the name “SkyPesos.”

Hat tip to The Points Guy.

Where does the Delta term “FO” Come From?

For those of you who may not know, Delta uses the designation “FO” to refer to their Silver Medallion Members, or those who fly 25,000-49,999 miles per year.  But have you ever wondered where the term comes from?  I mean there is absolutely no F or O in “Silver.”

While perusing FlyerTalk today, I came across this post, which seems to have the definitive a few posts down:

FO does indeed stand for “Flys Often” and was the designator for the original Medallion member (back before there were multiple Medallion levels). To this date, it remains the designator for Silver Medallion. The original qualification requirements for Medallion level were much the same as they are today for Silver Medallion.

Funny how an airline really used to value people who flew 25,000 miles a year on the carrier (and at that time there were no MQMs and each flight earned a minimum of 1000 miles), which was the qualification requirement for Medallion level. Now, fly 25,000 miles and you mean very little to the carrier.

I find it funny that one who flew 25k miles a year was thought to fly a ton.. O how the times are a changin…

 

 

 

 

O those good ol’ flying days….

A Tale of Two Delta Videos

Delta, my preferred Airline of choice recently came out with an interesting TV commercial.  Some complain, but I love the film-noir essence of relevance that the black and white aspect projects into their advertisements.

It certainly speaks to the untamed world of air travel that we find ourselves in.  A world in which the lines are long, TSA measures are ever-changing but never pleasant, and oil prices  only seem to be going up.  But through this ad they attempt to show a consistent, caring attitude towards each passenger, every time.  In essence, they portray that they care.

Juxtapose that with this video by one of my favorite comedians, Kenn Kington.  I came across his video as a link to Delta’s new commercial:

I have to sympathize a little bit with Kenn, and certainly got a kick out of the ode to the infamous safety video flight attendant, Deltalina.  But at the same time I don’t know the whole story.  We all treat people poorly at times.  Maybe the customer service rep had a bad day?  Even if she is a bad apple, every business is bound to have them.  Also,  I think it worth mentioning that he flew Delta for over 22 years with very few problems it would seem.

Altogether, I don’t think one bad experience justifies switching your loyalty.  If it happened repeatedly, sure.  But from my experience, and from those who vote in the Freddie awards, Delta is still a top-notch airline.

In general, I think they do a marvelous doing what one of the taglines says: “Predict the unpredictable, anticipate the unexpected, and never let the rules overrule common sense.”

Of course, I have always thought it odd that a major airline, which projects a consistent product in a world of change, when their name is derived from the Greek letter used to denote change!

Or did I just cross the “Line?”

Quick Hits: Delta SkyMiles Bonus & Free Avios

There are some great deals going on right now that I thought I would just touch on briefly.

As I alluded in my post Burn Your Miles Wisely, through March 31, Delta is offering a 75% bonus on purchased SkyMiles.

Delta 75% Bonus on Purchased Miles

While normally Delta SkyMiles can be purchased (up to 60,000 in a year) at a rate of  3.5 cents per miles, through this offer you are able to get them at a rate of 2 cents per mile.  This is great if you are looking to top off your account for an award ticket or looking to play the mileage upgrade game.  Tip of the hat to One Mile at a Time has a great post on this, which can be found here.

 

Also, per The Points Guy, you can receive 3,000 British Airways Avios points–FOR FREE by signing up for a free-trial of RealtyTrac.com.  Just make sure to cancel your membership within 7 days if you don’t want to be dinged with the $50 monthly fee.

RealtyTrac.com Sign-Up

There was some skepticism about whether or not signing-up for a free trial would work for earning the 3,000 Avios points.  Although I am still waiting for my “purchase to post,” TPG has verified that the points will at least post as pending!

DC for 4 Days: Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Pasco, WA (PSC)

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion                                                                                                                                                              _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

DL 4769/CRJ-900

Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Pasco, WA (PSC)

Depart:  9:40 PM          Arrive: 10:49 PM, PDT [3 Hours, 9 Minutes]

Seat: 3A (First)

When putting together my recent post on the World’s Best and Worst Airport Terminals, I tried to think of the best and worst that I personally had been in.  Usually, any airport experience is great for me due to my love of flying, but if I had to pick a least favorite I think I would have to pick the Minneapolis airport.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of great stuff in the airport, – a number of restaurants, a a couple of SkyClubs, and the nation’s largest mall is only a mile away.  But the airport layout can be a royal pain.  It is basically seven different concourses laid out in a huge square.  But what makes it so annoying is while there is a train system, it is not very efficient for crossing between two different concourses, say C and G.

MSP Layout

So getting from one side of the square to another may require walking all the way to the corner of the airport, turn and walk ALL the way down that concourse, then walk part of the way down the third.  So even with the advent of the existing train system, it is so spread out in such a random pattern it can still be irritating trying to navigate your way around.

All that to say I was very fortunate on this particular evening.  After landing in Minneapolis, I only had to walk a couple hundred feet to get from my connecting gate to my departing gate.

I had about half an hour to wait for my flight home to board, so I grabbed some coffee (Caribou Coffee–just can’t find it here in Washington state) then waited around for a bit in the gate area.

When boarding was finally called, only 7 of 9 seats in the 3 x 3 First Class cabin of the “regional” jet were taken. I was offered a pre-departure beverage right away, and went with a coffee and Baileys.  We took off on time-on, and I did some work on my laptop, but slept most of the flight.

I always find traveling between my home airport of Pasco and Minneapolis ironic. Despite the small, quaint size (4 gates) of PSC and the use of a regional jet, it is usually my longest flight of any leg when flying at domestic, at just over 3 hours.

Finally, weary and jet-lagged I arrived back home.  Drearily I walked though the brightly lit, yet empty airport and had to wait seemingly forever for my luggage.  And my bags were Priority tagged, whatever that means in this case.

DC for 4 Days: Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (ATL) to Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

DL 4769/Airbus A320

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) to Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)

Depart:  7:15 PM          Arrive: 9:03 PM, CST [2 Hours, 48 Minutes]

Seat: 2B (First)

Following my incredible meal at One Flew South, I headed over to the steak sauce gate-A1 to catch my connecting flight.  Soon after I arrived boarding began, and the 4-row, 4-across first class cabin had a full load.

The gentlemen next to me was very social, and we had very nice conversation over the course of the flight.

My seatmate had experienced quite an interesting day of travel.  Because he had booked his trip using Priceline, his outbound leg was on Delta, and his return leg was supposed to be on United.

He missed his departing flight on United, and ended up playing round robin with the United and Delta counters.  Finally, a Delta agent “decided” that since he was originally ticketed on Delta, they could re-book him.  Lo and behold, as Silver Medallion he must have been extremely delighted to find out that he had also received an upgrade!

About half an hour after we took off, dinner was served.  It was more of a “snack” than dinner, which was fine by me considering the big meal I had in Atlanta.  Even if I am not real hungry, I always seem to have a very hard time refusing free food on airplanes.

On the menu was a turkey sandwich, accompanied by potato chips, a bowl of fruit and a brownie.  Not the greatest of food, but it tasted fine and was able to tide me over for the rest of the evening.

As we continued to talk, my seatmate became inquisitive about miles and points in general.  He asked me how I received my upgrade (in this case miles) the process one goes about to receive an upgrade, and about how I had to learned to do it.

He seemed very impressed by my “knowledge,” commended me on me research, and  wanted to learn how he could find out more.  At this point in time, I was just becoming a points junkie so I recommended a couple of the sites that I read on a daily basis.

Anyway, we had a very pleasant conservation talking about all things travel and airlines, and I was happy to be able to pass what little advice I have to someone else.

The flight was fairly smooth, and seemed to pass by fairly quickly, due to the great conversation.

We landed in Minneapolis and I went on my merry way with one more flight to go…

DC for 4 Days: Washington Reagan (DCA) to Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (ATL)/One Flew South

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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DL2039/Boeing (Douglas) MD-90
Washington Reagan National (DCA) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL)
Depart:  2:59 PM          Arrive: 4:53 PM, EST [1 Hours, 32 Minutes]
Seat: 3C (First)

Following check-out from the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City I took the metro the airport.  While checking in at the counter nearest to the Metro entrance, (perhaps my problem not to use the First Class check-in) the ticket agent informed me that my bag was over 50 pounds.  I informed him that as I would be flying in First Class the weight limit would be 70 pounds, and he responded “Oh, I see you know your rights!”

I proceeded through security and almost made a royal mistake.  I headed over to the gate for my flight, and noticed that the flight had been delayed.   So I waited around for a little bit and noticed that yes, I was looking at a departure to Atlanta, but it was for a later flight!  Fortunately, I realized before my actual flight finished boarding that the flight numbers did not at all match up and found my way to the other gate.

Those of you who have been to Reagan National, at least in the Delta terminal, know how easy this is to do.  In a small area you have 5-10 different gates at the end of the terminal, so it is easy to confuse them.

I boarded the plane, then was offered a pre-departure beverage.  Boarding on the MD-90 didn’t take too terribly long, then we were down the runway and up into the air.

We were only up in the air for around 30 or 35 minutes, before descending into the Atlanta area.

Most people absolutely dread flying through Atlanta, but I love it to death.  Perhaps part of that is I grew up in Tennessee so hearing those charming southern accents reminds me of home.  Also, it was a place I found myself traveling through a fair amount when I was younger, usually on my way to visit relatives in Oklahoma, so it reminds me of the “good ol’ days!”  And finally, I love the great food.  Yes, I said the airport food, but there really are some great options at the Atlanta airport.

They happen to have one of my all time (cheap) favorites, Krystal.  I think what makes Krystal special for me is you cannot get their petite, square hamburgers outside of the southeast, and again it reminds me of my childhood.  So I headed over to the A concourse and grabbed a couple of the mini burgers, as an appetizer….

Krystal's!

My Krystal served as a small appetizer for something else on the finer side of the gastronomic spectrum, a train ride away in the E terminal.

One Flew South is a highly-acclaimed, yet somehow serene gem of the Atlanta airport.  Like Granatos in the Salt Lake City, it was brought into the airport having been already made a local establishment.

Their theme is Japanese-Southern gourmet cuisine.  Aas odd as that may sound, their food is simply incredible.  Hands down it is the most delectable restaurant I have ever been to, and it delivers every time with exquisite delights and exceptional service.

One Flew South

For my main course, I went with the Pan Roasted Ribeye, which consisted of “Grilled romaine, rutabaga, tomatoes, pearl onions, rye croutons, balsamic red wine sauce.”  And it was every bit as good as the picture makes it look:

Pan Roasted Ribeye

My waiter convinced me to try their Bread Pudding with Hazelnut Crunch, which was sensational:

"OFS" Bread Pudding

My stomach full and wallet empty, I sauntered over to the gate for my flight to Minneapolis…

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Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

DC for 4 Days: Delta Airlines First Class Detroit (DTW) to Washington Reagan National (DCA)

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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DL1042/Boeing (Douglas) MD-88

Detroit, MI (DTW)-Washington Reagan National Airport

Depart:  2:59 PM          Arrive: 4:31 PM, EST [1 Hours, 32 Minutes]

Seat: 3C (First)

Upon landing in Detroit, I hurried off of the plane as I only had about 25 minutes to catch my flight to DC.  I started heading down the never-ending McNamara terminal.  With the distance between gates that I needed to go, it seemed like I was well on my way to walking to Washington, DC.

Following my frantic frolic through the airport, I was a little bit relieved to find out that departure had been delayed by the late arrival of our aircraft.

I waited at the gate area, and became educated on the sorts of (strange) things people try to smuggle into this country:

Buyer Beware - Your souvenir may go on display in the Detroit Airport

While waiting I started talking to a lady, and experienced a little bit of the “young elite” treatment” as Ben from One Mile At A Time calls it, despite being in my usual business casual attire for flying.  We talked for a few minutes, and before boarding was called I had noticed that she was seated in First Class.  When First Class boarding was called she said “nice talking to you” as if she did not expect to see me again.  My point is, considering I am still ID’d alot, she probably didn’t expect me to be in First Class.  Much to our surprise, she was seated next to me on the flight.

I was promptly offered a beverage and enjoyed a Corona—not the greatest, but still refreshing after my gallop through DTW.  Being a on a smaller aircraft than my previous flight, boarding went fairly quick and we were up off the air in no time.

Once we got up in the air, I enjoyed my Granatos sandwich that I had picked up in Salt Lake as a snack, considering this one-hour flight only had “refreshments.”

About 20 minutes after finishing my sandwich, we began our descent into the Washington DC Area, and arrived on the gate about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

On final note witnessed something upon my arrival that I observed throughout the course of the weekend there.  I saw more police officers than I have ever seen in my entire life, and no I am not on the run! 🙂

Police officer greeting families

P!mp My Cruiser

As I found it, was the start of National Police Week in DC, honoring officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  Dozens of police officers were standing around to greet and escort arriving families at the airport.  It was rather interesting to compare the various arrays of police uniforms and vehicles while I was there.

DC for 4 Days: Delta Airlines First Class Salt Lake City (SLC) to Detroit DTW (DTW)

Introduction, PSC-SLC, SLC-DTW, DTW-DCA, Ritz Carlton Pentagon City Review, Exploring Washington, DC-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; DCA-ATL, ATL-MSP, MSP-PSC, Conclusion

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DL 2223

SLC-DTW

Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)-Detroit, MI (DTW)/Aircraft: BOEING 757-200

Depart:  8:50 AM          Arrive: 2:28 PM, EST [3 Hours, 38 Minutes]

Seat: 4C (First)

When I arrived at the gate, it was First Class boarding only so I got on to the plane (a 757-200) right away despite a full First Class cabin.  On a Regional Jet or even a 737-800 boarding is from the very front of the plane, which means that all passengers walk through the First Class cabin of the aircraft, whether or not they are seated there.

On flights with a 757-200 however, boarding is from just behind First Class, which keeps the two cabins separate during boarding.  While I enjoy the added privacy upon boarding, I love people watching as they enter an aircraft and this is something I miss when flying on a 757.  Besides all the other perks of sitting at the front of the plane, I love being able to sit and watch people as they walk by me–it’s like a parade of travelers and luggage.  I’m not sure how true it is, but I think you can tell a lot about a person and how their life is going simply by observing them as they walk towards their seats and are nearly forced to be patient while fellow passengers get settled in.

Delta 757-200 First Class, Courtesy of seatmaestro.com

Maybe it was that I smack dab in the middle of a 24-person First Class cabin and wasn’t actively watching people board, that the plane holds 300 passengers, or just me, but it seemed like 5 minutes before the purser offered me a pre-departure beverage.  While this may seem unbearable to some, I didn’t really mind since boarding continued for another 15 minutes afterward.  I went with a coffee with Baileys, which inspired a gentleman in the row behind me to do the same.  I love being a trendsetter!

I ended up having a refill (call me a Kettle Medallion) and by then we were ready for takeoff.  A little bit after we had leveled off in the air, the purser and two other flight attendants set to work taking drink orders again, then brought around hot towels. (I have never figured out it it acceptable to also wipe my face with it or not, but I do it anyway)

Soon after I was offered my choice of cereal, cereal, or…..nothing.  I was hoping for an omelet since I know that some Delta flights serve them, but I shouldn’t be picky since I would be eating a meal at 30,000 feet for crying out loud!

The cereal and milk came along with a bowl of fruit, yogurt, and a rather delicious croissant.

Breakfast!

Following breakfast, I watched a little bit of The Traveler with Johnny Depp on the AVOD (Audio/Video On Demand) which is fitting for a vacation trip, but with a rather strange ending.  I hadn’t slept much the night before, so I ended up playing some light music and resting.

The only other noteworthy part of the trip is a comment another passenger made to me.  After I had gotten up to use the lavatory a few times (too much coffee) he told me that he was trying to rest and asked that I not hold on to the back of his seat when getting up.  I have probably done this dozens of times to steady myself as I get up from my seat without realizing.  I apologized profusely both then and at the end of the flight, as I realized it was an invasion of personal space.  Ever since this experience, I have worked hard at catching myself if I am about to grab the back of someone’s seat while standing up on an airplane or bus.

Are there any sub-conscious behaviors you have to prevent yourself from doing while flying?

To be continued…..

Still Time to Earn Delta SkyMiles via FedEx

Often shipping packages can prove to be a hassle.  But now with FedEx, it can be rewarding, and maybe a little bit more enjoyable.

This deal has been for a while, per this post back in November by Mommy Points.  I bring this up now for a couple of reasons.  While I have known about this for some time, I myself just got in on this today.  Also, there is still time to get in on this promotion.  While the initial promotion ends January 18, you can still earn one mile per dollar spent with FedEx thereafter.

Miles are earned for shipping with with FedEx Express, FedEx Home Delivery, or a combination of both.  Until January 18, 2012 progressively higher rewards can be earned.

  • 2nd shipment earns 250 miles
  • 4th shipment earns 500 miles
  • 6th shipment earns 1,000 miles
  • 10th shipment earns 1,250 mile
  • 12th shipment earns 1,500 miles

To go directly to the overview page to sign up for this, you can click here where you will be asked to enter your SkyMiles number.

If you are trying to top off your mileage account for an award this can be a great way to get there, especially if you have multiple packages to ship.  500 miles and here and there may not seem like much, but as I wrote about earlier, every mile helps when you are trying to obtain an mileage upgrade or award ticket.

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