Say Hello To Delta’s Newest Platinum Medallion Member!

Well, it finally happened. I’ve finally sorta kinda taken the first step to switching to the dark side. Last week I wrote about how I was considering a status challenge with Delta, after years of being loyal to American AAdvantage.

American has made cut after cut after cut after cut after cut after cut after cut to their loyalty program, to the point that the program no longer has a competitive advantage. When you take out the competitive advantage of the loyalty program you have to consider the airline on its own merits, and unfortunately for American, Delta is a significantly better airline operationally.

I’m not making a full switch to Delta (yet), though I’m testing the waters more than before. While Delta doesn’t offer a status match to their top tier Diamond status, they do offer a status challenge programwhich I wrote about in July.

As an Executive Platinum member I would be eligible for that challenge. I’d 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.

Partner airline travel qualifies towards the challenge nowadays. 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, which will earn me nearly 11,600 MQMs. That means I just need to earn an additional ~7,000 MQMs within 90 days to earn Platinum status through January 2019.


Xiamen Air’s 787 business class

So a week ago today I submitted my status challenge request, and this morning I logged into my SkyMiles account to see that I’m now a Platinum Medallion member.

There’s something really exciting to me about this. I’ve been in the same hamster wheel for so long, and while I’m probably just getting myself into a new hamster wheel, at least it’s a new program for me to learn.

I still haven’t fully decided about my long term plan here. What I know is that I’ll complete the challenge, and then next year I can decide how loyal I want to be do Delta. The good news is that credit card spend can get you a long way towards Delta status, so I won’t have to fly anywhere close to 75,000 miles to requalify for Platinum status. Or if I go for Diamond status, I won’t actually have to fly 125,000 miles. I’m still trying to decide where status with Delta fits into my overall miles & points strategy, especially given that I’m going to requalify for Executive Platinum status with American.

Ine thing I’m excited about with going for Delta status is that I can book discounted business class tickets on Garuda Indonesia, Vietnam Airlines, etc., in order to requalify for status, which will make for some new reviews.

For now I can take it slow.

Anyone else starting a Delta status challenge and testing the waters?

Comments

  1. What’s “Customer relations bonus miles” in the screenshot? Did they give you 3,750 miles for saying something nice?

  2. I did the same as you. Grass is greener at American. You think AAdvantage stinks ? Wait until you experience SkyPesos absolute horse crap of a program :
    1. Upgrade as Diamond – almost never. All routes very tough.
    2. Skymiles cost way more even in Biz class than CX first on American. 125K miles for one way partner awards to Asia sometimes 3. Lots of dumb rules. 72 hour no change award rules
    4. Last minute award availability on American has been great within the US. Route depending. DL is NEVE lhr EVER 25K or more one way coach awards last. Minute never 12.500. All revenue based
    5. First class on DL is More like premium economy. Bad food , less food, never served in courses like American. AA has much better First class

    Only positive
    Wifi
    Irregular Ops

  3. Oh please Ryan. Hyperbole much?

    A Plat will typically get upgrades around 50% OVERALL. Obviously some routes will be much lower and some much higher %.

    I have an upcoming trip to BKK on DL (the A350 from DTW-ICN first leg) and KE. Cost? 80k – not 125k.

    And I just booked a trip to South Florida in three weeks for 20k SkyPesos.

    If you’re the typical kettle consumer than you wont get value but if you’re a sharp miles hustler you can get very nice value out of SkyPesos.

  4. Awesome! I enrolled last month and just finished a trip on AeroMexico which will take me over the finish line and qualify my as a Platinum member until 2019.

    I too don’t think I will make a full change from AA/OneWorld but it’s good to have options and the the status.

    Good luck lucky!

  5. I did the same think just completed my PLT challenage so far upgrades have been 30%, the food isn’t any better the only think nicer is C+ gets you free booze for the whole flight. Not too sure if I’ll stay after next year.

  6. I’m in the same spot as you. Currently an AA EXP, after completing a UA 1K challenge in march (and have enough booked to requal for 2018), I decided to give the DL platinum challenge a go (and completed the miles needed last week)…through a match in for JetBlue Mosaic for good measure. Now the big question….who earns my business next year?

  7. This is my last year qualifying as Delta Plat and I’ll have status through Jan 2019. I’ve been a Delta elite since 07. I’m now doing Virgin America and Alaska FFPs. Mid tier this year and MVP 75K next.

    Funny thing is I’m looking forward to learning the ins and outs of a new program as well. Something different. I’m guessing you’ll enjoy Delta, and some redemptions are not half bad. Using RUCs and GUCs will drive you crazy. The certs are my bigest complaint with Skymiles by far.

    Definitely sign up with the Skybonus program next year and meet the minimum qualifications, it’s not to difficult and it has some benifits.

  8. So SkyMiles have finally devalued into SkyMierda?

    “Wait until you experience SkyPesos absolute horse crap of a program…”

  9. I’ve been DM since they added it to their program about six or eight years ago and have largely been satisfied with their service and operations. I have been doing this nonsense for more than forty years of domestic flying for business and have flown some of almost every airline’s domestic routes and still do keep up with an occasional flight on the other two legacies and Jet Blue.

    The flaws in the SkyMiles program are largely due to the annual (and sometimes more than annual) award inflations but you will find, as a DM with a good spend, that there are lots of waivers and favors floating around that the experienced Diamond Line agents will let you have. It is not uncommon for one of them to find a saver award seat for you when the usual channels do not show it and, at least domestically, you can mostly forget about change fees. A great feature for us is the same day confirmed procedures that honor last seat availability in first if we have any sort of FC ticket.

    So, see how it goes and do come back and give us a report of how you think things have gone for you.

  10. @Ryan – I agree with you 100%. AA’s program sucks but DLs is so much worse. Yeah, DL runs a better operation but I still won’t fly them. They’ve gotten way to big for their britches; their automation sucks and the hold time for one of their airport agents to get a hold of anyone in the company who can assist them on a ticket reissue is insane.

    No thanks. I’ll stick with AA.

  11. Why don’t you try switching to United? I think you should give them a chance, and they have a good mileage program.

  12. @ Ben — Awesome, we will finally have a blogger on Boarding Area that is an expert on Delta. Just try not to give away the best secrets. 😉

  13. @ Ben — One word of warning: upgrades ATL-TPA are very difficult on Delta, so expect to buy first or sit in the back some of the time on that route (one I assume that you will inevitably use to see your parents, as I do).

  14. @ Ben — Sorry for three posts in a row. ATL-MCO is an easy upgrade if don’t mind the drive. It is also much cheaper to buy F on that route vs ATL-TPA.

  15. Sorry to burst that bubble–AA is awesome. Delta was a sad joke. Their 1st class is akin to premium economy at the us domestic (crap) level.

  16. I was originally DL platinum; you get upgrades on most flights except those in/out of ATL (it seems that everyone going to/from ATL is diamond on DL). Moved from CVG or ORD, so last year only had enough DL travel (with credit card MM) to qualify for gold this year. Using AA much more (now platinum, which is equivalent to DL gold), and DL far surpasses AA in benefits, likelihood of getting an upgrade, and the customer service training that the average employee has. I’m gonna try to do more of my discretionary travel on DL to see if I can get back up to DL platinum for next year.

  17. Did the same thing – DL is 1 million times better than AA – with people who like their jobs, newer planes, edible food and a GREAT website.

    I’m sold.

  18. I am a lifetime platinum and switched to Delta 6 years ago. I have been a diamond for 5 years. Far superior airline. I rarely fly AA. American has better food; however, the rest of the service does not compare. I will stick with Delta!

  19. I am also doing the challenge. I find Delta domestic award availabilty at the lowest rates to be much better on Delta than American. It is unfortunate I don’t get out of the country more often to take advantage of some better reward opportunities. Also, if you book domestic coach award on American, you cannot get upgraded to F.

  20. Dear Lebonrobert:

    Sure, but this is a First World blog with an almost entirely First World readership. The problems it discusses, therefore, are going to be First World.

    Maybe you should consider moving to the First World? Then you could have First World problems, too. You might also get more out of the blog that way.

    I’d offer suggestions on blogs that discuss Third World problems, but I don’t read any of those blogs and so wouldn’t really be a reliable guide for you.

    Good luck to you, though!

  21. No hyperbole. Let’s stick to facts:
    Delta first class has less legroom. 35-36″ on many planes and very limited recline

    Delta has no player snacks on 7-900 mile flights.

    Delta doesn’t offer meals in many mid afternoon flights between 9-1350 miles

    Delta first class service is basic. Very basic. JFK-SEA all served in one course , bad food and ice cream in a plastic tub that melted by the time I finished dinner. No cocktilails with nuts before and no separate appetizer or salad. All plopped at once on a plastic tray. Alessi looked cooler than it ended up

    Economy – yes DL comfort may be a LITTLE better but I hate the process of how it’s ticketed in a different cabin. PITA

    Upgrades – someone up thread mentioned 50% for Platinum. I call BS unless they are all secondary markets on off- days. I’m way under 50% as a Diamond flying a mix of prime and non prime routes.

    Customer Service – Delta wins here but us a toss up because sometimes American is awesome and DL sucks and sometimes it’s the other way around

    SkyPesos- yes there are a few good redemptions. FEW. FAR, FEW and in between. This program sucks the big one and anyone who values a SkyMile even close to an Adnvantage mile is way off base. They only allow cheap mileage redemption in the US when the fare is cheap. This will come very soon to Intl as we are already seeing changes to partner awards

    Devaluations – secretive and rampant. You’ll never know when. You’ll just see stuff price and you’ll be like WTF!? They devalue faster and harder than everyone else and they love it. Can’t stop themselves

    Old Planes – refurbished nicely but seats packed in to the brim. With no bulkheads I feel like DL planes are very crowded.

    767s – too many That biz class product sucks
    777s – same as above
    A330s – good but not as good as Americans 77W/772/787

    Only good thing like I said above is Irregular Ops and Wifi American announced coming very soon the app will be fully functional with Irregualr ops and flight booking. It’s already slightly easier

    These are all facts. Not options. Except for how I feel about the food and customer service . Some people may like DL food better

  22. This year I am 52-58 for upgrades, but 22 rides on Satan’s Chariot. $2200 in bumps, a new ski case after mine gotten taken out. IRROPS great service I have never had to overnight in ATL except when I got a $1000 voucher when flying with Rene’

  23. I have been a delta Diamond for 3 years. I find myself upgraded 99% of the time to Comfort and 75% to 1st. I also think the Diamond line is awesome and most sky clubs are great. ( There is one in the east coast that I dislike but I won’t out them. ) Delta has it’s issues, but most of the time the team seems generally interested in keeping me happy so I want to give them my business.

  24. Gee Ben, I couldn’t be happier for you. Yet one more Platinum to compete with. But hey, I only have 65 segments on DL metal so far in 2017. So you with your 3 long haul flights on China Eastern-Northern-Southern are more than welcome to my rare upgrade. Also, please continue to share ALL of the targeted bonuses you receive so that I can continue to elevate my blood pressure when I invariably find out that I have received none of the offers. My favorite & most recent one is the Hilton offers you…and Ford got through your AMEX cards. I hold three AMEX cards, one since 1985, one Hilton Surpass and I, of course, was 0-3 on those offers. But hey, welcome aboard the rare Delta upgrade train to FC seats that are absurdly tight, the “shoot me if I have to look at one more snack basket in place of a freakin salad or sandwich and the “how could you possibly only offer a snack basket in FC on the nearly 3 hour flight from ATL-ABQ even if we departed at the “ungodly” hour of 7:40pm?

  25. Good decision, Ben. I’m a million miler on AA, but decided five years ago to switch to Delta without the generous challenge they offer now. I’ve been Diamond for five years with no regrets.

    Like you, I got too frustrated with the service. I care more about the attention and service I get from flight attendants, pilots and gate personnel than the food. (Though I still remember a superb cedar-plank salmon entree on a flight from LA to NY in Delta One class.) The quality of the food is dramatically better in SkyClubs than Admiral’s Clubs.

    I sincerely feel like Delta appreciates my loyalty. While hating airlines is popular, I’m happy to tell others that Delta is MY airline.

  26. Don’t know If you should switch to Delta though reviews in business class on Vietnam Airlines and Garuda Indonesia would be great

  27. @Buddy M He flew UA recently, so i believe this is not the case. He probably didn’t consider it because UA currently has the worst Intl business class among US carriers. For me, however, United is the best option… MP is the best FF program and the domestic service is good.

  28. Also just did a status challenge and booked enough flights to qualify through 2019! Excited to switch, primarily because of American award availability and inability to use SWU on pretty much any flight these days.

    I really like the ability to cancel and redeposit award tickets on two alliances for these following few months.

  29. I thought one of the requirements of the challenge was that you couldn’t be a Medallion member. I read that as you couldn’t have a SkyMiles account, is that not correct?

  30. Platinum Member here for the past 4 years, silver or gold for the previous 12. I get first class upgrades ~50% of the time. 100% of the time in Comfort Plus. I don’t fly Delta for the miles. I use the miles for my family. I fly them because I really like their product and service compared to Untited and American. Lucky, I hope you get some new insight to share with us, be it good, bad or indifferent.

  31. Decided to play the status game starting this year. Had to choose between AA and DL (friends don’t let friends fly UA!…plus the slow roll out of full Polaris). I like AA’s quality international partners and their foreign lounges but the OW alliance really seems disadvantaged in Europe and China, places I fly often. DL also gets bonus points for their more reliable operations and customer service during IRROPS. In fact, it was how DL took care of a weather related 17 hour delay in Narita last year that finally sold me to consolidate to DL.

    So I’m earning DL status this year the hard way. Should be hitting Diamond in about a month then it’s all rollover MQM. Learned a lot in the meantime from Renee and hoping you’ll share “secrets” here too. Can’t wait to get GUC’s and see how far I can push them!

  32. I fly to PVG a lot in economy, from LAX, three major airlines have the direct route. I have to say, on the food option in economy, DL is better than UA than AA……….

  33. Good choice Lucky !! I’ve done them all. I’m platinum now but will be diamond by years end ! Doing a China eastern business class New York to Singapore for a littleorenthan 2,000 coming up that will put me over ! Welcome

  34. I always find it interesting when an airline makes changes and it drives their loyal customers to another airline or by unbundling everything to the point that we don’t care. Just don’t understand the logic. It should be possible for airlines to make plenty of money with loyal frequent flyers.

    Next time a recession or really bad economy appears I think many of these airlines are going to regret the race to the bottom of loyalty

  35. @ Matheus

    I think I remember he’s banned from the FFP, not from flying with them. UA used to be – maybe still is? – his favourite airline. Though after Dr Dao, God knows why anyone would give them even a penny in business. They’re not getting my money.

    Polaris? Oh, very nice, if you can see past the blood pouring down your face after they’ve set their security goons on you.

  36. I’ll now make my second consecutive Diamond status on Delta after flying two million miles on United. I’m very pleased with the change – except that the reward program is very poor. Now after a short flight on Virgin, I have decided to give them a try. I have five flights booked with them this year and may make a major transition next year. I pay for discounted first class. Thus, I don’t think that status with an airline is so important. And with the poor value for miles, I am of the mind to be less loyal and fly the best and most convenient flight. So all airlines should take note – with miles inflation you lose loyalty from people like me. I only hope that Alaska does not bring the quality of first class on Virgin down. I’m switching there for that quality experience.

  37. I was a long time Alaska flier (live in Seattle). In 2013, was one of the folks targeted by Delta. I took the challenge and haven’t looked back. I’ve been Diamond ever since. Delta Platinum is about the same, based on my experience, as an Alaska MVP Gold 75K. Whereas Diamond is a definite step above that.

    I upgrade to first on my SEA routes about 80% of the time, except SEA-ATL. I upgrade to C+ 100% of the time. I actually would rather be in a 757 in C+ or first than a 737 or 320. The cabin is nicely refurbed and the C+/F seats are forward of the boarding door, so you don’t have 200 passengers walking through the first cabin and whacking you with their backpacks.

    My choice benefits are always SkyClub exec membership and GUCs. Use the GUCs for my wife and I to fly to Europe once a year in D1. My family and work colleagues often travel with me, so the SkyClub exec membership comes in handy. This year I’m going to take the SkyClub pass, which amounts to the same thing. You pair it with your Amex Plat or Delta Reserve CC and you have your own access plus two guests (and children traveling with you). So, this year I’ll do GUCs, SkyClub Pass, and 25K miles (I think).

    The Diamond line service is stellar. People that I work with that are Platinum say that the Platinum line is really good. Never on hold more than 2 minutes, knowledgeable, friendly agents.

    The SkyClubs are all really quite nice. And some are simply outstanding, especially the new SkyClub in Seattle. The F Term Club in ATL is pretty cool, with open air seating. The food and beverages in the Clubs are good, although I get grumpy that I have to pay for the good scotch ;-).

    I’ve had planes held for me more than once. I have this tendency to book tight layovers, like 35-40 minutes, in stupid airports …. SLC and DTW come to mind. In both those airports, several times, when my inbound flight was late and I had just minutes to make it from one end of the airport to the other, the gate agent has held the door for me.

    On occasion, especially at JFK, I get 360 level service. You know, guy meets me at the door of the plane, takes me down the jetway stairs to a Mercedes SUV and drives me to my next gate or the SkyClub. And then someone in the SkyClub makes sure you get to your connection on time. Too bad I don’t spend enough to get invited to 360.

    The one big downside to SkyMiles and Delta is the award redemptions. Sort of. I can book a lot of airlines in SkyTeam using SkyMiles that I wouldn’t fly otherwise. Like Virgin Atlantic’s SEA->LON route. But 140K miles for D1 RT SEA->AMS is painful.

    On the other had, if you have a Delta Reserve or Platinum credit card, you can do pay with miles. It’s like buying your flight with Amex MR points. Except you do it right on Delta’s website. You are basically paying 5000 miles for $50 worth of fare price. But it’s a paid ticket, not a ticket on miles. For main cabin and comfort plus, this is great.

    I am going to fly SEA->LAX->PVG R/T in comfort plus in November for 80K miles using pay with miles. So, I get all the MQMs and MQDs. Since it’s a “Chinese food run” with a couple of friends, didn’t feel like spending the cash. 🙂

    All in all, Delta > American > United …. if Alaska ever flies their own metal to Europe, I would switch back. Until then …. Delta all the way, thanks.

  38. I am following Lucky pretty soon.

    I already have Alaska 75K but have lots of AeroMexico runs to do and yet to be booked so Delta it is (but I will keep my Alaska 75K as well). I really do not like Delta’s International award redemption rates but Intra-Asia have some good deals. I recently redeemed a One Way Tokyo to Taiwan to China on China Airlines / China Eastern for 40K one-way in Business class. It was a no brainer as I was looking at over $1k for that particular day.

  39. I just completed it from United, and so far I couldn’t be happier. I mainly did it to take more advantage of AMEX Platinum.

    In reference to the upgrades discussion, I’m 100% for upgrades so far for the one economy ticket I’ve booked of three to make the challenge, which was IAD-ATL-NRT-SIN-NRT-ATL-IAD for the F1 race this weekend.

    In reference to food, I’ve enjoyed it quite well for airplane food, especially the food on Delta One transcontinental service that I paid for the first trip after being approved for challenge. The food in economy has been pretty good on this trip too.

    I really love getting complimentary alcohol on international flights, and I definitely enjoy the SkyDecks at the SkyClubs that have them.

  40. @David Stevenson does that China Eastern flight have lay flat in biz class? Cause I keep looking at the really good redemptions with China Eastern, but it appears that biz class is angled flat, so I have held off on that.

  41. AAdvantage’s cuts are certainly a pain, but I havent seen anything that makes me want to switch – rather the devil you know and all that. I’ll be interested to hear how you think its worked out for you.

  42. Good move Lucky. AA has gotten so bad you’ll notice the difference immediately, it’s just a shame you didn’t get to experience Delta One service on the upper deck of the 744!

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