Last week Delta Air Lines obliterated and destroyed any and all reasons to be a blindly loyal flyer of the airline. They not just told you “we don’t want you as a Medallion member” but also told us all to GET OUT OF OUR SKY CLUBS! We get the message, loud and clear, they don’t want us flying their airline anymore and we understand and we will do as they say and avoid Delta. I thank them for making this so loud and clear as it really makes it a simple choice to just say no!
Well before this loyalty disaster I had made the choice to dump Delta medallion status as it just has not been worth it anymore. Phone support is hit or miss even as a Diamond. The Delta IT, that has never been very good, is abysmal now having destroyed an elegant and functional app with one that everyone hates – oh and don’t even get me started on phantom results. Then we have Delta flight attendants, that used to be the best in the industry, sometimes hiding vs. providing great service or treating elites like gate lice. Lastly we have the once vaunted Delta reliability descending lower and lower week after week. But wait, really lastly we have SkyPennies program with abhorrent award levels vs. any other airline.
Ya know the choice to be done is not really that hard, right?
So it is time to go so how do you maximize your yield on all that you have spent decades of loyalty saving up? Let’s look at how to game Delta to the max on the way out the door point by points.
- MQMs. I know some Delta elites who have almost 1 million MQMs or enough, under the old system, to be Diamond for years and years. Under the assumption they are done with Delta it is foolish to convert them 20:1 to MQDs next year. Sure you could maybe, even without flying, earning your MQDs to be Diamond all of 2024 and 2025 but unless you can commit to keeping MQD spend over 35k in the years to follow – just don’t. 1 million MQMs is worth half a million SkyPennies and it is, IMO, silly to say no to a $5,000 gift in points from Delta (that do not expire until you do) that you can use to buy 1st class tickets when you find them at good award levels.
- Choice Benefits. Be smart about picking them as many of the rules have changed since years gone by. Also keep in mind you may already have earned and can redeem your 2024 Choice Benefits and use them. I, for example, have not just picked RUCs for my 2024 Platinum benefit but already applied them to booked flights. After all, if you are going to be flying another airline a bunch next year why not use up all your choice benefits ASAP!
- GUC and RUCs. Delta, in one of 1000 #KeepDecending moves, changed the rule that you have to fly the certs by the medallion year’s end. That said, and back to gaming the system, most ill trained Delta reps are not aware of this change and you may be able book flights beyond the cert expiration date and clear them (when space is open today). The point being is look at all your flight choices for 2024 and book seats and clear those upgrades and get max value from this elite perk!
- Delta Amex Cards. I desperately hope you did not emotionally cancel your Delta Platinum or Reserve personal or business cards last week. Why? When the annual fee bills you get a BOGO or buy one get one free flight certificate from Delta. Once that fee bills you have 30 days to cancel the card and get the fee back. Amex will tell you the cert will go away but for years and years that has not been the case and you do NOT have to pay for the BOGO flight with a Delta Amex card to use it (you can, in fact, pay with any Amex card and anyone’s Amex card – it just has to be an Amex card to spend the BOGO cert). That said if you have a number of Delta Amex cards there is no longer any incentive to hold more than one as Delta, a credit card award company that flies a lot of jets, has been dumb enough to incentivize us to NOT hold multiple Delta Amex cards anymore – go figure?! When it does come time to dump your Delta Amex card be sure to call and ask for a live rep rather than use the automated system to cancel so you can tell them you are dumping your card(s) because of the Delta medallion and club rule changes! Oh and it is worth holding at least one card, for now, while you spend your points down to get a 15% discount on the next point.
- SkyPennies. You may have a large pile of Delta points and that may be growing to very large totals after next year when you convert your last ever MQMs to SkyPennies. The biggest mistake you can make is to burn them all in one glorious Viking bonfire in one round trip to Europe in Delta One. Please no – just no. Do things like me and find 75,000 Business class ticket to Europe and use a few extra SkyPennies to fly Delta 1st class to start your trip via Mexico. There are other options but the simplified points is Delta points don’t die until you do so take your time extracting max value from your years of loyalty. Heck even buy tickets for family at ultra cheap rates flying them coach (oh you know you don’t love them THAT much) if you need to when ultra cheap flights go on SkyPennies sale.
- Sky Pubs. The monthership leadership no longer wants anyone in their massive ultra new and modern clubs unless you are rich. Well, I am not rich but if you really want unlimited visits there are ways to creatively earn the 75k spend to get in (yes, I know, their terms are VERY specific so that this can get you canned but if they do who really cares so game on – right?)! I guess if they have 2000 seats in their clubs and 200 are the only few who visit at what point can they keep bleeding the cost to keep the clubs open when no one visits anymore (in 2025)?
- Amex Platinum Card holders. To be clear we are not talking about the Delta Platinum card but the real Amex Platinum personal and business card holders. Since you were a loyal Delta flyer you likely have Delta as your preferred choice for the yearly $200 airline credit. You will want to, as of 1 JAN 2024, select the airline you will be flying more next year and moving forward. Why not put a reminder in your phone to alert you to this on the 1st.
For me I will be Platinum for 2024 but will not use it very much as I have only one Delta flight booked past February 1st of next year and will actively look to avoid flying Delta unless I find a cheep business class ticket vs. other options. – René
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