Finding REALLY cheap Delta (elite) Mileage runs is not easy. I say (elite) because all the big US airlines, other than Alaska, give you frequent flyer points based on how much you spend. However, with Delta, you still earn full elite points based on distance and fare class paid (or even upgraded fare class).
Since the above is the case, and if you value status, Delta mileage runs can still provide value if it means it can help you reach the next elite level (this is a very personal choice). If you are simply going to fly for no other reason that collecting points then it has to be cheap. Really cheap or really a huge yield. For me I like paying under 4 CPM (cents per mile – for each elite point) in coach and under 8 CPM in 1st class. Not a hard rule but a guide for value in my eyes.
Finding 9+ seats with the above conditions can be almost impossible but this run I posted, and over a weekend no less, got reasonably close. Plus it is cheap to either fly or drive to Chicago to “position” i.e. fly to the start city and fly home (or drive for many).
A number of us met up at the Hofbräuhaus Chicago for dinner Friday night. Decent food and beer but holy cow that place is LOUD. I think for the next run I will find a better place so we can talk about points without yelling. 🙂
So Saturday morning everyone made their way to the O’Hare Sky Club. Most of us were already in 1st class the entire trip or at least C+ on a few legs (more on this in a bit).
I personally used a soon to expire regional upgrade for my outbound legs and, since it was a Saturday after all and I am a Diamond, chanced it for a free upgrade on the return.
Many got in, a few weeks after booking, on a cheap ~$100 upgrade offer for the entire trip that not only got in first class but also meant bonus MQMs or elite points, the entire point of the trip after all.The trip out to Seattle was just about perfect. We had gate to gate fast 2Ku Gogo wifi.
A decent breakfast Omelet. Great Delta service from the crew and then some time to enjoy the amazing Delta Sky Club in Seattle before our flight to Portland. That is where something fun happened.
You see Delta will, now and then for elites, drive you gate to gate or gate to the Sky Club and so on. A rep had just dropped off someone at the club and I asked if she had another pickup right away. She did not. I asked if she could give a quick airport tour to 3 top Delta elites (and million milers) who had never had the Porsche ride. She agreed and they got to see a view of the airport few ever get to see. Good times!
The 27 minute flight to PDX was quick and at that point most of us parted ways. I had to change my ticket to fly home the fastest way I could and due to the schedule change I got it free and even was able to route back to Chicago Midway to save me more time getting home (but did mean less miles – ah well). BTW I did not clear my upgrade at the 5 day mark with 6 open seats in 1st class. However, at ~3 day mark there were now 8 open seats and I did clear overnight.
As one little data point, if you are in MSP, the Escape lounge change from priority pass on only those who hold the non-Delta AMEX Platinum cards has made this club much less crowded. Plus, they do have much better quality drink and food choices than the Sky Club on the concourse below.
So how did we do since a run is all about the numbers (#ProTip: this is a simple tool to check Delta elite points). I paid $223.60 round trip (mostly with a voucher) and with my route was ORD-SEA-PDX-MSP-MDW resulting in 4151 MQMs at 5.4 CPM. Others went ORD-SEA-PDX-SEA-ORD for 4402 MQMs at 5.1 CPM. Those who got in on the free schedule change via ATL ended up with ORD-SEA-PDX-SEA-ATL-ORD for 5460 MQMs at 4.1 CPM. Even better those who did a cheap 1st class round trip buy-up for $100 paid ~$323.60 and got in via ATL ended up with 8190 MQMs at 4 CPM all in first class!
Bottom line this was a really fun quick weekend run. It was great to meet a number of old frequent flyer friends and some new ones as well (great to meet you Derrick, Yun, Tim and a few more as well).
You never know what is going to happen on a “fun run” and I am working on plans for something special next year out of Austin. It may include some BBQ stops, some frequent flyer instruction as well as a run at the end. Only in the planning stage so far but be sure to follow the blog for more info later on! – René
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