My Frequent Traveler University Presentation on Delta – Status, Upgrades, Awards

by on May 1, 2013 · 17 comments

in Delta, Elite Status

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In addition to my seminar on the best credit card deals, I gave a second talk at Frequent Traveler University this past weekend on why Delta is still an airline program of value entitled, “Making the Most of Delta – Status, Upgrades and Awards.”

The whole point is that there are still plenty of ways to pull some great values from your Delta miles and elite status despite some very big, recent, negative changes to the program.

It was a packed room at FTU this weekend!

It was a packed room at FTU this weekend!

The mood in the room was somber because of recent changes such as the new revenue-based Medallion qualification rules that require flyers either to spend $25,000 per calendar year on a co-branded Delta Amex credit card or spend a certain amount (between $2,500-$12,500) on the airline in order to qualify for elite status at the various tiers; and the airline’s new and more restrictive policy on Same Day Confirmed Changes and Same Day Standby.

In my opinion, there are probably still a lot more changes to come and I suspect the majority of them will be negative. However, as I mentioned in last week’s post debating the merits of going for Delta versus American elite status, there are still plenty of good reasons to remain loyal to Delta SkyMiles including the ability to rollover miles and lucrative Medallion bonuses. In the end, a lot of us are still on Delta’s loyalty hamster wheel, so we might as well maximize our status and the benefits.

My presentation was just a high-level overview of the SkyMiles program including the Medallion program and its new requirements and benefits; the best Delta credit card deals out there right now; Choice Benefits for elites who go above their tier qualification requirements; the basics of using Systemwide Upgrades and miles to upgrade; and what opportunities there still are to get some great redemption values as I just did for my upcoming trip to Spain and Italy.

Here’s my presentation slideshow:

Let me know your thoughts and comments, and feel free to ask anything below that you’d like me to cover in the future.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • itsaboutthejourney

    Great presentation. Looking forward to your analysis once FUBAR or whatever it’s called is announced.

  • hansmast

    Terrific, terrific presentation. I learned at least five new things and very nice things. Thanks!!

  • Josh

    Do you have a list of the best credit cards you presented?

  • thepointsguy

    Are you looking for just Delta cards? Otherwise there is a ranking of the top 10 current travel credit cards here –

  • Nick Ewen

    Just to clarify, I was under the impression that mileage upgrades were not added to the airport standby list, only SWU’s. Is that correct?

    Also, just to share my experience with the new SDC policy, ExpertFlyer is a MUST for anyone who flies Delta a lot. I had to change a flight last week that only had S availability for sale through, but EF indicated my fare class (T) was still available, so I was able to make the change. Not that we needed another reason to love ExpertFlyer, of course… :-)

  • idahost

    Seems like a presentation geared towards pushing Delta credit cards when you absolutely know these are the WORSE values in credit card spend, this is just so pathetic. I live in Florida and every time I see someone in line using a Delta AMEX card, I know he is a dumbass. If you did not get $$ from Delta on these referrals, would you still push these worthless cards, even you must have some scruples.

  • thepointsguy

    Yea that really wasn’t the point of the presentation at all. However, we did discuss how Delta makes it more lucrative than any other airline to have their co-brands.

  • idahost

    Would you push these cards without a referral credit, do you agree with me this would be the LAST credit card, you personally would ever use…just be upfront, when was the last time you used one of these cards for a daily purchase

  • thepointsguy

    I don’t even get referral credits on all of these cards- especially when people listen to me speak in person and can decide to apply wherever they’d like.

    Anywho, I just got the Delta Platinum Amex and the potentially 35,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles that I can get from it are extremely valuable to me. The companion passes can also save a ton.

    As for day to day earning, no way- I’d rather have chase or Amex points. But no chase card can give me MQMs, which is why many people have Delta cobranded cards

  • leonew6s

    I picked up the Delta Platinum Amex for the MQM’s. I also purchased MQM’s directly from Delta toward the end of last year, and it cost me hundreds. I wish I had paid closer to attention to TPG’s recommendations. How can you say these are not good value? I don’t see Brian pushing ONLY those cards, he is presenting the strengths of the co branded cards.

  • AKold

    Anyone who talks about Delta elite status without mentioning the credit cards is doing you a disservice.

  • MiamiMike2

    I am an AA platinum and applied for the Aerolineas Oro status match which is equivalent to SkyTeam Elite which is equivalent to Delta Silver. I know I can get the skyteam elite benefits like priority boarding and check-in but would I also get complementary upgrades on Delta.

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  • Michael

    Is there a Delta credit card that help your chances of getting an upgrade, or is that a myth?

  • cyndi

    Tried to book a reward flight today on Delta, which was for my son. When I searched as myself as travelling I got all kinds of flights for 25K, when I unchecked the I am travelling box the fares went to 32,500 miles. Any ideas how to get around that?

  • Ed

    Not sure if I’m too late to respond, but a way around the “I am traveling” box is to go through the process with the box checked, then HOLD the reservation without booking. This holds it for 48 or 72 hours (can’t recall which). Then call Delta’s phone number (I’m a Gold Medallion), play dumb and say you meant to book it for your son, and provide his information. I did this on a trip to France this past spring for our family. I wanted to get two award tix at 60K points each, but wanted those to be for our sons so I could get the MQMs. Of course, when I unchecked the “I am traveling” box, the tix jumped to 100K points each. On a hunch, I left the box checked, held the reservation, then called the medallion line to book the tix, change the travelers to my sons rather than my wife and I, and pay the award ticket fees (they were the normal award fees).

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