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This has been a unique week. Has it been fun? Yes. Was it work? Yes. What it hard work? No. Would I do it again? (Well since I have a few more of these runs booked) Yes! Would I book this again next year? Maybe!
How is that for an intro? I know DeltaPoints readers are at all levels of travel experience so I will try to keep this simple but some of this will come across as, “what? why? how?”. I also will toss in some personal psychological musings now and then that hit me during the run.
Let’s start with some of the technical stuff first as I have had many questions on that. This one was an add-on after the $137 killer deal that I booked the other runs with. It was still a good price but I totally get the argument that compared to getting the AMEX Reserve card this was a waste of time since it also gets you 10,000 MQM’s with your first dollar spent (to be fair I plan to do that too so I still needed/wanted this).
I booked PIT-ATL-LAX-ATL-PIT but thanks to the mighty schedule change rule, and calling and asking for a change to SBN, was told, NO, but pick any airport in Ohio (I loved that response btw). So, I picked the closest one, Cleveland. I did two days back to back. The total cost for the AIR part was $338.40 so my net for the 10,000 MQM’s was 3.39 CPM. My gas/toll/parking price added almost $100 to the bill but I also netted 12,504 RDM’s so that has value too of at least $125 (I value my Skymiles at 2-3 cents each for Sweden trips in business class). I also will net some nice Skybonus points on top of all this. My next runs were cheaper and I used a $400 ETV so my real cost will be MUCH lower for those. While we are talking about cost, I parked at the Marriott CLE and you can just park anywhere in their lot, walk in, tell them you want to park-n-fly, and it costs just $5/day. I did tip the driver $2 so all-in $6/day cost! They give you a business card and you call the moment you land and they are then waiting to pick you up. Great service!
I have been struggling how to cover all the points and not make this post ridiculously long. Today I will cover the journey and tomorrow some things I thought I knew, but now have confirmed by my experience and also confirmed with my Delta corporate contact regarding Delta’s selling of upgrades etc.
This may come as shock to many of you but I dropped down to Silver status at the end of March, not February, this year (I will give a free amenity coupon to the first one to correctly guess how this happened). My wife is Platinum now and I always want one of us to have that level of status each year. So, next year is my turn. In 1 month I will move from Silver to Gold to Platinum with flights and my next 15,000 AMEX Reserve dump of MQM’s. Thus, my upgrades were just about what I expected. I scored 2 of 8. One of them was in the 1 day upgrade window (the last leg of the trip – thank you Delta) one was battlefield upgrade. I was “told” over the PA I would get one more but it was an “oopsee” so the rep gave me my own row of economy comfort to make up for it and the FA’s were also very nice to me after they found out what happened. I was totally fine with it and really it was funny. I did not expect any on the ATL-LAX or LAX-ATL and on one of the segments I was 80th of 84 with 1 seat open for battlefield upgrade. My guess is I was basically 4 ahead of all the other T-class FO’s with no AMEX Reserve card!
On to my seats. For anyone who thinks FO is worthless I laugh in your face. Here is why. IMO, if you want leg room (WAY MORE THAN 1st class on this aircraft), then I had the best seat on the 767-300 domestic product hands down. I mean look a the photo above and below here.
As a Silver I picked row 26 each trip. 25 AB & FG is not bad bulkhead legroom but 26 AB & FG are the best as full recline (slider seat) and both a seat back tray table AND an armrest one. IFE, GoGo WiFi, USB power in the seats, near lav – just wow! I would pick these over EC seats if you want legroom. The only negative is they are a bit hard on the tushy! SeatGuru says the middle bulkhead is good too. I would say NO and not just for the reason below.
I spent a lot of time in Skyclubs. I went straight for the new F concourse Skyclub for my showers as it is all new and nice.
One big gripe was that I could not find a hair dryer in the room. In LAX they have them on the wall just like hotels but not in the F. What is up with that Delta?
It was fun, after 1.5 days of running, to look up and see all these people, each and every one of them on a phone, tablet, PC and the like. I saw only ONE person reading a real, paper magazine. Times have changed.
One day I went to Chili’s on the upper level of concourse A, right next to the Skyclub that no one seems to know about, and had a killer lunch of the appetizer sampler menu and a priceless view of the airport. Each bite was better than the next and I cannot wait to have it again.
But I will stick to water and have my beer in the Skyclub as over $8.00 for a beer? C’mon Chili’s give me a break!
I also mentioned money well spent. Since I got such a good deal, and my back was a bit sore from so much time in coach, I splurged on a table massage at the XpresSpa just below the Chili’s and Skyclub in “A”. It was amazing and took away all the pain. I will always plan for 3-4 hour layovers for this 45/min treatment when running from now on and really should add that into my CPM but maybe that is just silly as I would have one at home anyway even when not flying. I digress – sorry!
I also wanted to talk bumps for just a second. Delta does not have a “give up your seat” that can be put in for the total trip. You must ask at the gate and sometimes if you use the kiosk at check-in or throughout the airport you will get the bid for giving up your seat (that just means offer $400 and you will be on the list maybe). Both my LAX flights were VERY oversold. I was promised I would be needed – 100% – by the agent on trip one but at the last second put on the plane. Result was my laptop was no where near my seat (I have a complaint in to Delta about this). The second time, I again offered and came to the gate 1 hr before flight. The lady in front of me (grrrrrrr) had a party of 4 and they all got $400 each. (grrrrrr). I know I have publicly said I will only take cash from now on, and I stand by that, except for when running as a rebook to “Y” will just about guarantee an upgrade for me and that alone is worth the bump! So if you want to bump, be sure to get to the gate EARLY and be first in line!
There was also a reason for this trip other than just points and miles as I did meet a friend in LAX but will keep that private until a later date. I promise to tell you about that one day, just not now. How do I feel after a total of 6hrs driving and 24 hrs flying? Tired. Exhausted? No. Was it fun? You bet. The funny thing to me was I had planned to get a TON of work done in Skyclubs and on the 5 hr transcon segments. Even the CLE-ATL was 1+hr long. The reality was it went by so fast that I got almost nothing done I wanted. I only had time for one film and most of the time in the Skyclub I relaxed and did a few e-mails and such.
So what do you think. Would you try one of these 2 day runs? Be nice in your comments but am I crazy? Leave any kind of comment – ON THE BLOG – for a chance to win 1 of 4 Delta Points luggage tags and a Delta amenity coupons (I will use random.org tomorrow some time)! – René