3 flexperks cards

I just booked my FlexPerks positioning flight out to LAX for my Swedish mileage run (one of two this year). It is amazingly simple to “earn” your way to a very inexpensive reward ticket with FlexPerks personal or business cards. The new card bonus is nice on top of that as well (that you can get multiple times even if you already hold the card btw). But when it comes to spending your FlexPerks points, there are little things to be aware of to get the best perks.

The first one I have already blogged about and that is working with phone reps to get the highest fare class seat to get as close as you can to the each price level for points that is say $400 per ticket. This way, for upgrades, you are in the highest fare “bucket” possible to hopefully jump ahead of some other medallions.

use flexperks points to buy a delta ticket earn mqm rdm mdq

Anther way is finding flights; if you are maybe working on paying for either a mileage run or a positioning run – understand the search engine. There are times Delta.com will show routes that the Travelocity search engine FlexPerks uses will not. Once you find what you want on Delta.com and it does show at the price you want, you can search point to point with FlexPerks. The result, much like Delta with an award ticket, the two legs that both show 20,000 point availability, when you combine them, will net out at 20,000 as a total.

rene flexperks statement

Lastly, be sure, the day you fly, to buy on Delta.com a $50 e-Gift card with your FlexPerks card and then after the trip call US Bank to get your $25 credit back for “airline allowance” for incidentals the day of travel. Unless you want to buy something else on-board like food & drinks for $25 that is.

90 days to pay yourself back for award travel

The only other thing to always think about is to only consider FlexPerks for a ticket at least $300-400 to get MAX value for your points. If you are only looking at say a $200-ish ticket it is much smarter to just pay with your Arrival points. Also, if you are short Arrival points at the time of purchase it does not matter as you have up to 90 days to earn enough to “pay your self back” for the ticket you got. A sweet Arrival perk.

Either way, either method, you are earning Skymiles, MQMs, MQDs, Skybonus & CrossoverRewards (if you have them). It is all about MAX value so think each step along the way! – René

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lots of swag delta points blog swag saturday giveaway

Time to get back to our good ol’ weekly giveaway. This week I am giving away a bunch of travel stuff I think you will like. All of these things I use from an auto/airplane power inverter plus a 10,000mAh power brick (& a tiny spare 2600mAh one just in case). So what do I want from you for a chance to win?

First, back to the rules that are HERE if you have never ever seen them read them please. Now to what you need to do to qualify to win.

dl points rookie

After 75 weeks of  “Rookie Wednesday“  posts I want to help with ideas you would like to see covered. If you answer one of the topics I have already covered, you cannot win so please come up with something I have not talked about yet for a shot at the great travel swag up for grabs this week. That’s it – have fun! – René

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airfrance jet

Most long time readers know I am not a fan of coach. For short trips, fine, but for longer than 3 hours I want to be in the comfy seats with “cool refreshing drinks” brought to me by smiling and attentive FAs. This is one of the reasons when I do book mileage runs I tend to stick domestic as much as I can; as a Delta Diamond Medallion my upgrades tend to run about 90%.

However, the NAI price assault on flights to Scandinavia has caused the MR’er in me to go a bit nuts this year. One of them I fixed by using upgrade certs so no coach there (other than a short hop from Amsterdam up to Sweden). The next one, however, that I had to jump on will be quality time in coach. Not just this, but time on Air France and KLM coach. Ruh-Roh!

af us on twitter

Unless you fly these Skyteam partners you may not be aware of some slightly bothersome issues that can come up (if you detect a hint of sarcasm you are reading this correctly). You see, sometimes, you can pick seats on DELTA.dumb and think you have the seat you want only to have it not happen in reality when you go to fly. The fix has been to setup an account on KLM.com or AirFrance.com and pick seats that way. But even that does not always work.

You see as a Delta elite+ i.e. Platinum Medallion or higher you should be able to get better seats free. On KLM the economy comfort is much like Delta’s and free for us. On AF you can get exit row etc. but not their upgraded economy comfort that is almost a business “lite” seat and service.

tweets with airfrance for seats

For 8+ hours across the Atlantic ocean I did not want a bad seat. Delta did what they could at booking but were limited. I thought about calling KLM & AirFrance but that can go bad. Enter the power of Twitter. As you can see by the above tweets I got just the seat I wanted, but it did take a few extra tweets to show my seat confirmed. I then logged on to KLM & AF web sites and do see the seats confirmed and printed those pages as well. So far so good I am in exit row on an AF 747 and on the KLM 777 on the return in EC with NO seat in front of me for unlimited leg room. This works if it all works that is!

Other bits. I also, since I want to earn Delta points not Flying Blue points, made sure on both the KLM and AF site that my Delta Skymiles number is in their reservation system for the itinerary as well as on Delta.com. Why? When I check-in for the return trip Delta will send me to KLM to check-in. This is when things can go wrong and you don’t get the credit you want. Better to check now and print confirmations of what you want! – René

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skybonus april-1

skybonus april-2

There are two new Skybonus deals that popped up in my account today. Like all things Skybonus you have to make sure you register for any promotions BEFORE you fly. It also seems some of the latest are targeted, but it is worth checking.

delta-com fll to bgo

The next one is just stunning. Thanks to NAI there are some major fare wars to Scandinavia like the one above for just $492. The latest one gives some staggering MQMs and Skymiles and is even possible on a weekend mileage run. Sweet day for flight deals! – René

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new Skymiles survey 1

Once again I get a survey of what I think about Delta and Skymiles2015. Let me think of how many ways I can express my feelings about the decimation of Skymiles after my last survey about the program. Hummm… I will just today pass along the slides without comment.

new Skymiles survey 2

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new Skymiles survey 16

I will tell you, much like the last survey, there was a slide just before the final one where I could fill in my personal thoughts. I again got SO carried away letting our mothership know what I thought that I forgot to take a screen shot of the blank fill in the page, page. Very sorry! So how would you have answered these questions? – René

PS – There is a VERY good CPM (cost per mile) mileage run from Phoenix to St Maarten aka Maho Beach.  If you have never been, you need to go one day! Also, if you do need a place to stay the Radison Blu is a good choice on Club Carlson points! (EDIT: RB has been sold)

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pay yourself back for fee arrival card 2

Unfortunately the 4x Arrival shopping portal bonus for buying gift cards is over again (for now) and if you did not have a Barclays Arrival card you could not enjoy the 4x anyway. But what if you were smart enough to get a card? You may not care for the $89 annual fee, but you can at least pay yourself back for it with points.

pay yourself back for fee arrival card

All you do is go to pay yourself back for travel (after the fee has billed) and choose redeem now. Then you can pick the drop down box and burn 8,900 points to cover the fee in full.

pay yourself back for fee arrival card 3

Now the best part of doing this is that you are going to get, just the same as all travel redemptions, 10% points back and as you can see from mine I got 890 points back worth almost $9 and thus lowering my fee to $80 for this year. Still more than I want to pay but worth it for all the perks this card gives! – René

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Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta 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.

sky magazine airport layoutsFrom Sky Magazine

Delta tells us that the minimum connection time to be “legal” (such a fun term) for a domestic connection you must have more than 30 minutes from arrival to your next departure. But is this realistic?

The answer is sometimes yes but other times no way! There are a bunch of factors that go into that last statement. One of the biggest is a little secret; Delta pads their scheduled times ;-) . For example take a look this route from ATL to DTW (Atlanta to Detroit):

delta-com atl to dtw

We see that Delta has the scheduled 2 hours from gate to gate. But what is the history of this flight? Let’s see what FlightAware tells us the real times are:

flight aware delta 748

So we notice there is some fudge factor going on, not always, but most days. This does help Delta in reporting on-time performance and helps us make our connections.

But we should still work inside the rules and we can use the rules to our advantage. Delta wants to charge you to sneeze at your itinerary. But, if you know the mighty schedule change rule, you can change free and many times have a lot of flexibility with your travel plans. Not just this, but if you do book a very tight connection you could maybe play rep roulette or ask for a supervisor or the reissue desk until you get one you can work with to do a change free.

Let’s break down my personal thoughts on what will and will not work at the different Delta hubs and see where you can use this to help you.

  • ATL – Atlanta. 30 Minute connection? FAIL. Not only is this most times not going to work, but reps know this especially if you, say, are coming into A34 and are going out of C55. Why? Because you are going to have to get to the center point, take the stairs down, then train it a few stops and then the reverse. Can you be at the gate 20 minutes before departure? Not likely. I want to have 45+ minutes in ATL.
  • CVG – Cincinnati. 30 Minutes connection? PASS. Due to downsize a tight connection is not what it once was in CVG. 40+ would be better, but you certainly can make a 30.
  • DTW – Detroit. 30 Minutes connection? PASS. Not to say you can relax, but on a flat out run you can make say a C gate to an A gate but even here 40+ minutes is a better idea.
  • EWR – NYC Newark. 30 Minutes connection? FAIL. Again, like ATL, depending on where you come in and where you are going out it is going to be hard to make it. Possible, but hard. 40+ is a much better mark.
  • LGA – NYC LaGuardia. 30 Minutes connection? PASS. As long as you are staying all Delta C & D you can make it. Connecting to/from A maybe not and 40+ would be better.
  • JFK – NYC Kennedy. 30 Minutes connection? FAIL*. Why the star? If you are in T4, even A to B, with a “brisk” walk you can make it. Same if T2 in and out. But if you have to take the connector you are going to miss your flight. 60+ is really needed to do this.
  • MSP – Minneapolis. 30 Minutes connection? PASS*. A big star again. If you are mainline and move it you can make most say C to G. The big issue is say you are in on a regional A15 and then out of G3. Let me tell ya, you are not going to make it.
  • SLC – Salt Lake. 30 Minutes connection? PASS. Now if you are into the end of A and out of end of D you are going to have to move it but you can make it. 35 would be a better number.
  • SEA – Seattle. 30 Minutes connection? PASS. But like SLC, if you are into an A and out of N a bit more would make the stress level lower.

That hits the current “official” Delta hubs (there are clearly other big airports, but not called Delta hubs). How can we use this to help us? No one wants to pay for a ticket change fee. If you are at say 33 minutes in ATL, we can see, unless the gate is next door, you will likely miss-connect. If you explain to the Delta phone rep you would really rather NOT miss-connect and can you not please change to some other route or flights you will, even if it takes a call or two, get someone who understands this and change you for free.

How much can you push this? It depends on the rep and your medallion level and how reasonable your request is. Always keep in mind reps who don’t want to help will say we cannot change because we don’t know where your gate will be (i.e. in ATL you may just go A34 to A30). They may say you have to wait. You then say, sure, thanks, click, hang up, call back, start over! – René

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delta airlines delta points blog top tips

Today is a day for random Delta musings that are little tips that really help my Delta travels. Some of these you may know or some may be new to you. Either way, perhaps they can make your Delta adventure a little bit better from start to finish! Let’s get started and dive right in.

Tip #1. First when it comes to booking; I have two schools of thought when I go to book a flight and it depends on what I want. If regional jets are included expect a ton of schedule changes. This can help or hurt you. I sometimes intentionally book tight 31 min connections and it can take just days to get a change to the flights I would rather have. Other times I always look at the MAX allowed (too much can count as a stopover) to be able to relax in a Skyclub, get a massage or grab a bite to eat. Also, when it comes to Delta and points, I know how to find low level seats. Other airlines, not so much; then I turn my attention to Adam and say HELP find me what I need!

crj200-delta-points-blog-needs-paint

Tip #2. This one kinda ties in to Tip #1 but not really so I broke it out. Picking my Delta airport. What is most important, schedule or cost. For me, the convenience of my home town SBN is nice but there are drawbacks. ONLY CRJ200′s is a big one. No Skyclub or any kind of lounge. Cost to fly is almost always higher than either Chicago airport. Even my other regional cities are often cheaper with Delta like AZO, FWA or GRR. So consider airports w/in 1-3 hours from home if cost matters OR if trying to spend say a BOGOF from your Delta AMEX Platinum or Reserve card (not my link).

Tip #3. Parking. I always look for discount parking. Some of them will have online coupons. Find such a place you like? Before you just printing the coupon, check places like TopCashBack or Ebates or BeFrugal to see if your favorite shopping portal has some deal or percent off you can stack with the parking coupon for an even better value.

Tip #4. Luggage. Delta may not enforce the “Size Check” much (or at all) for carry-ons but they do enforce the 1+ personal item rule firmly (most times) that is, if you have 3 bags they will tell you to consolidate. Also, even though there are times a medallion can have 70 lbs I always try to stick with 50 lbs per bag MAX as a rule of thumb as Delta just beats the snot out of bags that are over 50 I have found (and the same goes for the rest of Skyteam)! Clearly having any Delta AMEX card (not my link) helps on cost if you are not a medallion. Or, if on a FlexPerks award you can pay with ANY of your FlexPerks cards and get $25 back per trip (not each way only once)! So you cannot if you say have both a personal and a business FlexPerks card get $25 twice (officially).

delta points talking delta phone app for seats

Tip #5. At the airport. Your choice of to lounge or not to lounge and what lounge does make a difference. All of us have lots of gadgets and if you find a spot with no power you can burn much of your juice before you ever get on the plane. Then, depending on cabin and plane type, you may not have in-seat power. I like having a battery brick of some kind (one of the reasons I give so many away on SWAG Saturdays btw) and make sure it is fully charged the night before flight (should that not have been my 1st tip?)! Oh, one more thing, as you can see from my tweet above, learn to love your Fly Delta app while waiting. Check it often for gate changes, seats changes due to equipment swaps and possible upgrades. BTW, a reader coined a term we medallions do pre-flight; the act of constantly checking our status on the upgrades list and refreshing it again and again is called = “tapgrade”. :-)

Tip #6. In flight. So what can you do once in the air? You should already have picked your favorite seat and then as tip 5 showed protected it. You should have printed a HOOU if you had one already even if in 1st class as I buy a Travel Treats snack box to take home if I scored my upgrade (love those for later). You should have also thought about GoGo before you are up in the air as there are often (just not right now) discount codes you can use. Even without paying for GoGo you can use much of Delta.com or the App so do check arrival gate, connecting flights or even check in for the rest of your trip if need be say on a mileage run. Other than that, do always remember if things go wrong in-flight that the FAs can use their hand units to make Skymiles or credit vouchers to make up for onboard issues!

Tip #7. Issues and IROPS (that is irregular operations). When thing go wrong, start looking for options. Perhaps you looked at alternate routes pre-trip but if not be on your game. Never ever just trust a rep has the best choices for you. If you don’t like what you are hearing, ask again or ask another rep in person or on the phone. Find a Redcoat or work with reps in the Skyclubs. Even if you get a change; you can most times change it AGAIN if you find something better for free. Be in the driver’s seat is my point.

Tip #8. Getting what you should. Keep your old boarding passes. If in your phone, take a screen shot just in case. Then, make sure you get all the RDMs, MQMs, MQDs including class of service bonus you should be getting. Delta.dumb often gets this wrong and our Delta points do matter to us as Delta flyers right?

That is about it. I do all these as second nature but perhaps some of these are new to you or ones you don’t think about (but you should). Any other great Delta related tips you just “do” we should know about? Please share them on the blog in the comments below in the post – René

PS – Be sure to get your 6.6% back while you can!

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DeltaMileageRun-com home page

I just had to pop this one up on BOTH blogs as it is such a good deal for someone looking for summer travel to Europe and a chance to pick up a TON of points in the process. To be able to fly for under/around $2000 all in business class is just sweet!

You can route this all sorts of ways either via JFK to get to ride the nice new BE-light service from LAX or up to SFO (San Francisco) and try out Air France or even route so you can ride the A380. So many ways and at a great price for a business class ticket!- René

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nai routes

In the past month I have booked two tickets from LAX to Sweden thanks to pricing pressure from NAI or Norwegian Air International. The prices were so good, compared to other days, I even positioned out on one round using my regional upgrades to get there and then my global upgrades to get to Sweden.

delta-com may prices from lax to sweden

The next one I picked up just the other day and I will be embracing my “inner coach” and either use my already booked 25k Skymiles ticket to get to LAX to start or I can for free as a Diamond Medallion re-deposit the points if I find a reasonably priced ticket burning FlexPerks points and earn points on the positioning part of the trip as well.

#approveNAI

Clearly Delta, it’s pilots and others are lobbying hard against NAI and it is easy to see why. Now I have no interest in getting into a political discussion of any kind, but I am more focused on us the flyers. I just find it interesting how this is the reality of air travel today and what is next.

Delta has decimated our Skymiles program starting next year and we have no choice. Don’t tell me we can fly another airline as American has shown how trustworthy they are this past week with their frequent flyer program and United, well, doubling the cost to fly a partner? I don’t need to say anymore do I.

Now I get Delta wants to protect its strong earnings for shareholders and for years the running joke has been what Sir Richard Branson said: “If you want to be a Millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline”.

Our monthership’s ardent opposition from competition from another airport near ATL, to support of stopping Emirates Airlines from flying between Milan and JFK, they want to protect the turf they have carved out. To me it is fair they make SOME money at long last. But how much of it has to come on the backs of frequent flyers?

I do hope the rest of the year we can get some good news for a change as the only “race to the bottom” I see is what all the airlines are doing to their frequent flyer programs. Maybe a little competition from NAI and others will bring a little sanity to the airline game and get the bad taste we have from all the “enhancements” we have endured in recent months and years. Am I off base here everyone? – René

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