Minutes after publishing our post about Delta Air Lines extending elite status into 2023, we received a lot of questions from anxious travelers wondering what to do about their (booked and paid) for mileage runs to maximize their Delta elite status.
Specifically, we’re talking about Delta partner mileage runs yielding great MQD for a fraction of the price.
None of us knew until Tuesday afternoon that Delta would again take the stunning step to once again roll over everyone’s status and MQM into 2022.
Until then, there were a few strategies people employed for their 2022 and 2023 Delta status.
Some wanted to hit Diamond this year. Others (like René and me) planned to only reach the Silver status MQD threshold before year’s end — and thus roll over a bunch of MQM to 2022. Then we’d partner mileage run ourselves silly ASAP to earn Diamond or Platinum status through January 2024.
Welp, Tuesday’s announcement potentially changed the game plan.
However, there are a couple of ways to look at this:
- Alter Your Elite Strategy
- You can load up on MQM through the rest of 2021 and 2022.
- Then earn Silver or Gold status to start Medallion Year 2023.
- Roll over a ton of MQM.
- Next hit the partner mileage runs in early 2023. Whatever status you earn that year is good through January 2025. (Can you believe we’re already talking about 2025?!)
- Proceed as Planned
- Full steam ahead! Get your Diamond or Platinum or whatever status in early 2022.
- Enjoy it through January 2024. (Emphasis on “Enjoy it.” There are worse problems than being Delta Diamond, Platinum, or whatever a year ahead of schedule.)
- Hopefully, Delta won’t have to extend status again in 2022. But we all said the same thing last year, didn’t we? So who knows what’ll happen.
Besides, you may not have (much of) a choice.
Can I Cancel My Mileage Runs?
If you have a fully refundable reservation, then you can cancel your mileage run (if you wish). René has some full J-class flights he can cancel. But others in “I” class he can not. He is planning to fly them all.
But what if you don’t?
Miles Jackson from Juicy Miles and I messaged back and forth about this yesterday. He said (with my permission to reprint):
In the current climate of travel (and financial) insecurity, most airlines have ceased their ‘free waivers’ allowing voluntary cancellation of flights.
That means any cancellation is a ‘voluntary’ cancellation and not subject to any waivers or refunds. As a result, nearly all reservations canceled will — at best — only offer future travel credit. In most cases, that’s one year from the purchase date; not the travel date. (Bold mine)
Each person has to make up their own mind. But people who already paid for tickets are probably better off completing the trip and reaping the benefits of redeemable miles and elite earnings (regardless of the airline.) At worst, for Delta elites, you’re probably improving your upgrade priority for future travel.
Travelers are (on most airlines) required to wear face masks and there is a level of assurance as most everyone flying has to provide a negative COVID test to do so. As a result, in my opinion, it’s a safer activity when compared to many daily routines in the United States.
So in a bad-yet-good way, your answer may already be decided.
So What Should You Do?
Keep in mind that Delta will give upgrade priority to Medallions who this year earn (vs. roll over) their 2022 status. So if you prize upgrades and Choice Benefits, go for Diamond or Platinum this year.
If you don’t have any Delta partner mileage runs booked for next year, consider padding your MQM balance during 2022. (Mr. Jackson at Juicy Miles loves creating domestic United States MQM runs. Just FYI.)
Then go from there.
If you do have partner runs scheduled, you can always call and beg for a refund (consider HUCB: one rep may say no and another may say YES). Worst case scenario: the airline says no. Then you take a trip to wherever — probably in business class. And you’re closer to (or achieve) your Delta status goal.
Again, there are worse problems.
Don’t let all of this govern your travel decisions.
If a great deal to, say, Europe pops up and you want to go, then go! Do not let status stand in the way of a special trip you want to take.
Traveling is the whole point of all this.
What if a fantastic business class deal to Paris pops up — and it works for my wife’s schedule and mine (and our budget)? Believe me you, we’ll enjoy a date night mileage run. Status matters — but so does the rest of the journey.
Delta granted its Medallions another year of status. If you booked mileage runs and want to see if they can be refunded, go for it. But think before you call. Or, like René is planning, fly the trips — then enjoy them and the status’ perks either this year, next year, or the years to follow.
If anything, this past year has shown that turbulence can be nasty if you don’t buckle up.
So look at your travel goals, budget, and plans — and use your gut to make the best decision for you.
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