For a long time I’ve been considering a switch to Delta for my domestic travel. I feel like I’m at the point where it might at least make sense to do a status challenge with them. Let me explain.
Delta is the best of the “big three,” in spite of SkyMiles
I have such conflicting feelings about Delta. When I actually fly with them, I can’t help but feel like the all around experience is better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not better across the board, in the sense that the onboard service isn’t always great. However, Delta overall does try harder. Their SkyClubs are much better than American Admirals Clubs and United Clubs, and in particular I was so impressed by the Delta SkyClub in Seattle, to the point that it almost made me want to switch to Delta.
I think Delta is fantastic operationally, while their arrogance, in particular in regards to their loyalty program, makes me not want to be loyal to them. But with American AAdvantage also having been devalued to no end, it’s not like there’s all that much of a difference anymore.
I’ll requalify for status with American, but am not loyal to them anymore
Some might say it’s a subtle distinction, but I don’t think so. In the past I was loyal to American. I recognized their flaws, but damnit, they were my flawed airline, and I was proud of them. Their loyalty program was sufficiently compelling to the point that I thought they were still the best option. We’ve seen cut after cut after cut after cut, and I don’t feel that way anymore. I have no sense of warmth towards the brand anymore, and if a random person asked me which airline to fly, I certainly wouldn’t recommend American, unless there was a specific reason.
Nonetheless I’ll be requalifying for Executive Platinum status with American this year. The reality is that I travel a fair bit domestically, and having status is useful. I’ve diversified my domestic flying more than ever before (this year I’ve flown Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United, Virgin America, etc.), but in the end I’ll requalify. So maybe it’s just that I’m stuck on the status hamster wheel. I get decent perks, and the switching costs are just too high, especially when I have systemwide upgrades to redeem, and have a couple of discounted premium cabin tickets on oneworld partner airlines booked. In other words, I naturally get so close to requalifying that I can’t justify not doing it.
Why I’m thinking of doing a Delta status challenge now
I won’t go into full details of the status challenge promotion again, but the idea is basically that as an American Executive Platinum I could get a Delta Platinum status challenge. I would get the status upfront (with some restrictions), and then I’d have to earn 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs within three months to maintain my status through January 2019.
What I hadn’t realized is that partner airline travel also qualifies towards the challenge, which seems to be a new policy as of late 2016.
I have an upcoming trip in Xiamen Air business class to Chengdu, so I’ll be flying from Los Angeles to Xiamen to Chengdu and back.
I’ll be flying a total of 15,854 “butt in seat” miles. “I” fares on Xiamen earn 75% Medallion Qualifying Miles with SkyMiles, meaning I’d earn 11,600 MQMs.
That’s actually not many for paid business class (it’s odd to earn fewer than 100% elite qualifying miles on a business class fare), but that would put me within 7,000 MQMs of completing the challenge, which is easy enough.
So the way I look at it, this would be an ideal time for me to complete a challenge based on the SkyTeam travel I already have booked. Another interesting thing is that Delta status challenges aren’t “once in a lifetime” (like many other program), but rather can be requested once every few years. However, the terms of these offers are always subject to change.
So while I realize Platinum isn’t top tier status with Delta, I also think it will give me a better sense of what the Delta travel experience is like. No, I won’t clear upgrades on a Monday morning from Atlanta to New York, but on the west coast I’ve cleared Delta upgrades through Starwood’s Crossover Rewards program (which put me at the very bottom of the upgrade list), so I figure being a Delta elite should give me even better odds.
Am I crazy for considering a Delta status challenge, or is now the time?