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Getting the most out of Delta’s MQM Rollover policy

November 26, 2012 39 comments

There’s only a month left until the end of year, which means that those with elite loyalty status with airlines and hotels are in a rush to reach the next tier … except some of us with Delta. Delta allows rollover MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles — the elite status counter) and in a lot of cases, it’s better to stay slightly short of an elite status tier and have a bulky rollover than it is to slightly meet that higher tier.

A brief overview of Delta’s elite tiers

Keep in mind that Silver Medallion (FO) is awarded at 25,000 MQMs, Gold (GM) at 50,000 MQMs, Platinum (PM) at 75,000 MQMs, and Diamond (DM) at 125,000 MQMs. Here’s a rundown of major benefits.

Silver is definitely better than no status, and you do not rollover any MQMs under 25,000. While many of the benefits of Silver can be reproduced with holding a Delta American Express, there are a few things you get that non-status members don’t, including:
– 25% bonus Skymiles when flying.
– 1 free bag (on top of 1 free bag with Amex).
– Priority check-in and security (if available to Silver Medallions at airport).
– A shot at upgrades.

Silver to Gold is a huge huge jump for everyone, in my opinion.
– 100% bonus Skymiles (instead of 25%).
– Free Same-Day Confirmed (SDC) Changes on domestic itineraries (down from $50).
– 2 free checked bags.
– Sky Priority – priority check-in, security, and access to Pre-Check without Global Entry.
– Skyteam Elite Plus, Skyteam’s higher of the 2 alliance-wide elite status, which mainly gives international lounge access.
– Free domestic economy comfort at booking. Silvers have to wait until check-in or pay a discounted price.

Gold to Platinum is a great jump for international flyers and for those who have lots of miles to burn in the next year.
– Free international economy comfort (only 50% off for Golds) on Delta and KLM.
– Free award cancellations and changes outside of 72 hours to departure.
– Platinum choice benefit, such as a $200 gift certificate, 20K miles, or SWUs (only usable on highest fares).

Platinum to Diamond is a huge jump for heavy domestic flyers.
– Diamond choice benefit (on top of Platinum choice benefit).
– 125% bonus Skymiles (instead of 100%).
– Free SkyClub membership (you can use the SkyClub when flying any airline).
– Best shot at domestic upgrades.

Taking advantage of Delta’s rollover policy

If you earned status in 2011, that status is good for the 2012 calendar year, and good until February 28, 2013.

If you earn status this year, that status is good for the 2013 calendar year, and is good until February 28, 2014.

I earned Gold Medallion last year, and that’s good until February 28, 2013. I will end the year at 49,976 MQMs, just barely short of Gold again. I will rollover 24,976 MQMs on January 1. However, if I fly 25,024 MQMs before February 28th, I will requalify for Gold before I lose this year’s Gold status.

The huge benefit to that is I will requalify for Gold in the 2013 calendar year, which means that it’s good for the 2014 calendar year and until February 28, 2015! That’s a full year than if I jump over 50K just 2 months prior. And I’ll have 10 months to rack up MQMs for Platinum status, my final goal.

At any other airline, it would be a good idea to get as high of an elite tier as possible before the end of the year, but not so at Delta. If you’re a mainly international flyer who is Platinum, getting Diamond has barely any marginal benefits for you. You get a 2nd choice benefit and 25% MORE Skymiles. However, you need another 75K MQMs in 2013 for Platinum and 125K for Diamond again. If you stop at 124K for Platinum, you only need 26K for Platinum again, which is useful if your travel is dropping off but you want the Platinum choice benefit and free award changes.

My current trips this year will take me over a threshold but I want rollover … what do I do?

There are two good options here … one is to credit to Air France/KLM Flying Blue, where you can credit any Skyteam flight. What makes AF/KLM miles valuable is that they are American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners, so you can always top off any miles you earn. They also allow one-way awards, so there are instances to use Flying Blue miles over Delta Skymiles.

Another option is to credit to Alaska Airlines if you have flights on Delta, Air France, or KLM, all of which are “free agent” partners with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Alaska is only partners with Starwood Preferred Guest, but they also have a Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa that offers a way to top off Alaska miles. Also, Alaska is partners with American Airlines and other OneWorld airlines like Cathay Pacific and British Airways, so you can earn/use miles on each of those airlines.

Keep in mind, if you switch out the mileage number before the flight, you won’t be able to enjoy your current Delta elite status benefits, so there is a tradeoff.

Recap

Delta has an interesting rollover elite status system, where it might benefit some people to stop just short of a higher elite status threshold in order to situate themselves in a better position for next year’s elite status run.

Some people might benefit more from 2 years of mid-tier status than from 1 year of upper-tier and 1 year of lower-tier. Rollover helps maximize those benefits over the long term.

Alaska and Air France/KLM offer substitute mileage programs in which to bank extra miles.

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Categories: Delta, Elite Status, Skyteam

Delta Showing Korean Air Award Space Online!

October 14, 2012 5 comments

This is huge news! Korean Air is a member of Skyteam and one of Delta’s premier partners in Asia. It’s been really difficult to search for award space on them since Delta didn’t show it online, nor did they show up on most online systems like ExpertFlyer (on the other hand, Air France, KLM, and China Southern show up on ExpertFlyer, while Virgin Australia shows up on Delta.com).

I’m seeing A LOT of business class space online to Asia. Just check out these screenshots!

LAX to Seoul on KE A330 (via Tokyo-Narita).

JFK to Seoul on a mix of Delta and Korean Air (getting the new Delta 747 Business Class + getting the Korean A380)

It even works for destinations beyond South Korea. For example, I want to take my mom to Angkor Wat in Cambodia sometime next year, and it’s well setup for Delta miles with service on Korean, China Southern, China Eastern, and Vietnam Airlines. A simple “LAX-REP” (Siem Reap Airport) search shows me this:

Combine with ExpertFlyer for China Southern availability, and all of a sudden, this is a rather easy award to book with Delta miles!

Delta’s routing rules also allow you to fly Korean to the South Pacific, so long as Korean publishes a fare. Check out Los Angeles to Sydney:

An additional way to book Australia online!

However, you’ll notice that, in typical Delta.dumb fashion, this is an impossible connection, since it arrives Seoul on Nov. 1 at 7:45pm (despite it saying Nov. 2) and departs Seoul on Nov. 1 at 7:15pm … which means you should stick to multi-city searches and plugging in each segment at a time. Unfortunately, the multi-city search doesn’t work as well on Delta’s site …

Korean Air’s destinations in the USA are

  • ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • ORD – O’Hare International Airport
  • DFW – Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
  • HNL – Honolulu International Airport
  • LAS – McCarran International Airport
  • LAX – Los Angeles International Airport
  • JFK – John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • SFO – San Francisco International Airport
  • SEA – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • IAD – Washington Dulles International Airport

Korean also has some blackout dates per this FlyerTalk thread:

TRAVEL IS NOT PERMITTED
* 07DEC 12 THROUGH 06JAN 13
* 07FEB 13 THROUGH 12FEB 13
* 01MAR 13 THROUGH 03MAR 13
* 17MAY 13 THROUGH 30JUN 13
* 19JUL 13 THROUGH 25AUG 13
* 14SEP 13 THROUGH 23SEP 13
* ON 03OCT 13
* 05OCT 13 THROUGH 06OCT 13
* 07DEC 13 THROUGH 31DEC 13

I could post screenshots upon screenshots of availability, but I’ve seen availability from all of these cities using Delta’s online search!

If you are searching for economy class space, it will show up as “KE.X” (X is the booking class for economy class awards).

If you are searching for business class space, it will show up as “KE.O” (O is the booking class for business class awards).

First class is not bookable with Delta Skymiles. The A380 serves both LAX (KE flight 17/18) and JFK (KE flight 81/82).

Lastly, don’t forget that Korean Air serves a very interesting fifth-freedom route in LAX-GRU (Sao Paulo, Brazil) on KE 61 (LAX-GRU) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday, and KE 62 (GRU-LAX) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Los Angeles to Brazil direct for 100K miles roundtrip in business! World Cup 2014, anyone?

Keep in mind that the Brazilian government is also very anti-YQ, so no fuel surcharges departing Brazil either. I’m in the process of trying to find some fun open-jaws to include this flight on but the Delta website is pretty glitchy.

Or if you need to get between Vienna and Zurich on Skyteam for some reason (stopover on a Europe award?):

Fifth Freedoms are AWESOME

To me, this really increases the value of Delta miles. It’s an actual enhancement! Okay, let’s forget the no cancellations within 72-hours rule, or the lack of low-level domestic feeder availability for now …

I can’t say that I’ve gone and booked one of these awards, since I still only have Gold Medallion status and need to wait until Platinum Medallion status to make free award changes. But I was able to hold an award through Delta’s website.

Redeeming Miles for India (Skyteam)

March 30, 2012 2 comments

Continuing this mini-series on getting back to the Motherland, I bring you Part 3: Using the Skyteam Alliance to get to India. If you have a load of Delta Skymiles, well … have a seat and pour yourself a (strong) drink: Read more…

Categories: Air France, Delta, India, Skyteam