Even though SkyMiles 2015 doesn’t start until January 1, Delta flyers know that dollars spent already matter when it comes to your elite status next year. Now, in addition to miles flown, dollars spent are figured into your elite Medallion status qualification for next year.

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Delta flyers are also aware that if you spend at least $25,000 on your SkyMiles Amex, you get a waiver of the MQD requirement. While I haven’t hit that number on my Delta Amex yet, I will. So if the MQD waiver is there, why should anyone care about MQDs? A matter of principle. Delta makes the rules here, and the least they can do is ensure MQDs get credited when earned. I was going through my flights for the year recently and found this.

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I did not receive MQDs from a fairly expensive short-haul flight on the second leg of a roundtrip flight. I wrote Delta and pointed out the missing MQDs. To Delta’s credit, I received a response the same day.

We are aware that MQDs are not posting correctly for some tickets issued
in our system.  Often these MQDs are associated with flights which
experienced some sort of delay or cancellation.  Please understand, our
SkyMiles Leadership team has been working diligently with our IT team to
repair the problem.  We have forwarded the ticket information for these
flights and ask that you allow 8 to 10 weeks for the requested flights
to be corrected.  We regret any frustration or inconvenience this has
caused and thank you for your patience.

Thank you for your support as a Platinum Medallion member and for
trusting your business to us.  Be assured, we will make every attempt to
serve you well; we are focused on the future and look forward to our
continued business relationship.”

So, Delta is aware of the problem, and they are working to fix it. That’s good. The email points out that the SkyMiles leadership team is working with IT to fix it, and they’ve identified an issue when flights experience some sort of delay or cancellation. That did not happen on this particular flight, but I did same day confirm onto a later flight than I originally booked. Could be a useful data point in watching your MQD balance.

In the end, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but if you are a Medallion elite that does not carry any of Delta’s Amex products (and I know there are some), it matters. Mind your MQDs, especially if there is a delay, cancellation, or other change to your original booking.

-MJ, September 5, 2014

 

It’s not often that I am disappointed with Delta Air Lines. They run, without question IMHO, the best airline operation in the USA. They deliver a reliable and desirable product. The airline is in a word, solid. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the company, its managers, and its employees. That hasn’t changed, but things like this annoy me:

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I’m referring to Delta’s decision to prohibit ExpertFlyer from displaying any information related to Delta. I use ExpertFlyer weekly to inform my travel decisions, and I think Delta’s decision is regrettable at best. In truth, I suspect those of us that use ExpertFlyer frequently represent a fraction of Delta’s customer base, and a not much greater percentage of their Medallion customer base. I’d love to be wrong about that, but I’m likely not. Has life as I know it come to an end? No. Do I think Delta “hates customers?” No. Am I disappointed in Delta for making this decision? Yes, I am. Do I think Delta cares what I think? No, and maybe that’s the most disappointing thing of all.

-MJ, September 1, 2014

 

I’m traveling today, and I was right at the point where I needed to decide, lunch at Fridays or just snacks in the club. Knowing that Delta has recently upgraded its food options in the Sky Club, I elected to just head straight for the Sky Club. The T Sky Club in Atlanta has always been a favorite of mine. It still has the old-school Crown Room feel and furnishings (not that there’s anything wrong with the more modern Sky Club decor), is quiet (usually), and happened to be next to my departure gate. While this wasn’t my first visit since the new food rolled out, it was the first one where I had the time and inclination to sample.

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One of my favorite bartenders recommended the chicken salad last week, so seeing that it was available today, I went for it. The bartender was correct – the cranberry chicken salad was quite tasty! I rolled with that, cheese spread, veggies, and the Italian Wedding Soup. Turns out, it was a pretty good lunch, all for the price of admission that is included with my Amex Platinum Card!

A few observations – I was in the club the morning after the new food options were rolled out. There was a manager in the club training staff on the new food. I’ve been in the Sky Club 4 times since, and each time, someone on the staff has asked me what I thought. I’ve been honest – it’s improved, and I appreciate it. It isn’t foreign airline lounge class, but it’s certainly tops for complimentary lounge food for the big legacy US airlines, I think. Have you tried the new food? What did you think?

-MJ, August 27, 2014

Just before boarding my 2:30PM flight from Atlanta to DCA today, the agent announced that they would be trying out a new boarding process. He was reading from a sheet of paper, so I take it this is something Delta is seriously considering. In short, boarding would go like this based on what I heard:

1) People who need extra time.

2) Families with children/strollers

3) First Class

4) Diamond

5) Sky Priority

6) Groups 1 through 4

While I’m not entirely sure how different this was from the way it’s always been in theory, they seemed to make a point of it, and really enforce the boarding order. I can’t say boarding went any better than usual as I was in first class, and boarded when I was told like I always do. As I passed the boarding pass scanner, I was handed a card with an email address to let Delta know what I thought of the new boarding process. Can’t really say as it just did not seem all that different to me. Has anyone else experienced this on a recent Delta flight?

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-MJ, August 21, 2014

According to Raleigh-Durham International’s blog, Delta Air Lines will add new nonstop services from Raleigh/Durham (RDU) to the warm weather destinations of Miami and Nassau later this year. Per the blog, “Nonstop service to Nassau is scheduled daily for the peak holiday travel period of Dec. 20, 2014-Jan. 20, 2015. Miami nonstop service will operate on Saturdays from Dec. 20, 2014- Aug. 15, 2015.” However, my own look at the schedules shows both services as Saturday only at the moment, with the last Nassau flight on January 10, 2015.

While these markets might seem a little odd at first glance, RDU is a bit of a focus city for Delta with a big number of flights to Delta’s major hubs and large markets like Los Angeles. Delta has operated a Saturday only nonstop from RDU to Cancun for a few years, and these new Saturday only flights are likely using aircraft that have some spare time on the weekend. Miami is well served from RDU by American, but I guess Delta could capitalize on its inherent strengths in the local RDU market, and deliver a few folks to weekend departing cruises too.

Now for the next big question – will Delta revive its idea that never took flight from years back of 757 service to Paris from RDU? Hmmm.

-MJ, August 20, 2014

Today is the day that Delta Sky Clubs across the country will introduce new complimentary menu options. Enjoy options like:

  • Healthy breakfast options like fruit salad, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt and cereal, plus fresh bagels
  • Delicious hot soup and a variety of tasty salads, plus marinated mushrooms, fresh fruit and desserts

Further, Bailey’s Irish Cream is returning to the complimentary offerings at the bar.

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Image courtesy of Delta Air Lines 

You can review the complete menu here.

I like the new options. While I don’t think anyone would confuse this with the lounge offerings of many international airlines, this is certainly a step up for the domestic US airlines. I like the Sky Clubs, the modern air of many of the newer clubs, and especially the Sky Decks at Atlanta and JFK. Is this the last change in offerings we’ll see from Sky Clubs now that they’ve raised full membership rates to $695 annually? I don’t know. But I’m guessing an airline that’s firing on all cylinders can come up with something….now let’s see what that is.

-MJ, August 14, 2014

It seems that a lot of people were surprised by the news that Delta Air Lines was named America’s best airline by Airfarewatchdog’s annual airline rankings. One of the routine emails I receive from Conde Naste Traveler came with the subject line “You Won’t Believe Which Airline Was Named America’s Best.” Actually, I would.

Boeing+747-400+4+hiImage courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Now, maybe I’m biased because I live in Atlanta, and as a result, spend an above average amount of time flying Delta, but here are a few things I’ve noticed over my last 2 years in the ATL.

  • I am rarely delayed (seriously)
  • In 5 years of somewhat routinely flying Delta I’ve experienced exactly one flight cancellation
  • The few issues I have experienced have always been dealt with in an effective manner
  • When I check bags, they are nearly always waiting on the carousel when I arrive in Atlanta
  • Delta people are almost always courteous
  • Inflight crews are almost always above average to excellent
  • Wi-fi is pervasive, even on large RJs

I could probably list a lot more things to like than this, but these are what come to mind right now. In short, Delta is an airline that works for me, and obviously others. You’ll likely notice the phrase “they have a great frequent flyer program” is missing. That’s because SkyMiles has its known issues, but even that has worked out OK for me, especially the Medallion program. Color me not the least bit surprised that Delta was named America’s best airline. It’s certainly the best at the things I value most as a frequent business traveler.

-MJ, August 12, 2014

 

Delta Air Lines announced new branding for the inflight entertainment options today with the introduction of Delta Studio™. Delta Studio will be available on all domestic and two-cabin regional jets beginning August 1. According to Delta, “Delta customers, in every class of service on flights longer than one and a half hours, will have access to a selection of free entertainment options, either at their seat or through their laptops, mobile and tablet devices. Free entertainment options are available on flights with seat-back entertainment systems or on demand video streaming onboard Delta’s Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft. All Delta customers will have a selection of free options, but customers seated in BusinessElite®, first class, and Economy Comfort will have free access to an even greater variety of entertainment. Economy class customers on international flights will enjoy the same access.

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Image courtesy of Delta Air Lines

One of the most interesting things to me personally is access via GoGo inflight wi-fi. I know this is not necessarily new, but even more demand via inflight wi-fi would seem to create further strains on the GoGo network. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a significant deterioration in the quality of inflight wi-fi……almost no doubt because more and more travelers are taking advantage of it. It will be interesting to watch and see if Delta can deliver quality internet and streaming entertainment content. Given Delta’s proven ability to execute, I think there’s a good chance that Delta Studio™ proves to be yet another product differentiator when it comes to choosing which airline to fly for business and leisure travelers alike. From personal experience on three Delta flights over the last 1.5 weeks on AVOD equipped aircraft, color me hopeful. Though I think it’s important that wi-fi quality not be impacted for those of us that just want a reasonable internet connection speed. Kudus to Delta for their latest efforts on inflight entertainment.

-MJ, July 29, 2014

So…I had to take a business trip to Seattle, and when I looked at the options, a 3-letter/number combination caught my eye – 76W. It turns out that at the moment, the 8amish flight from Atlanta to Seattle is serviced by an internationally configured 767. In other words, lots of seats up front that lie flat. Here’s an image of the cabin courtesy of Delta Air Lines. I was excited to try out the BusinessElite® seats on the 767. 767+BusinessElite+seat+1+hi I booked this flight without hesitation, and as luck would have it….my Sunday morning upgrade cleared at the window as a Platinum Medallion. I was a little too excited given that it’s just a seat, and while the flight was on an internationally configured airplane, the service would be standard domestic service featuring what I have now named “the always reliable Delta First Class omelet.” Things got off to a rocky start because our flight attendants were late in arriving…actually, two of them were late in arriving. Funny thing is, I got a heads up from TripIt Pro before Delta said anything. IMG_1377 No idea what the issue was, but soon enough, they arrived and shortly thereafter, boarding began. With the compressed boarding time no pre-departure beverage service was offered. Funny thing – with some AAirlines, it’s a notable event when you actually get a PDB, with Delta, it’s notable when you don’t. There was water, we boarded in a hurry, and soon enough we were pushing back an on our way to Seattle. I videoed the takeoff roll on a dreary day in Atlanta.

Inflight service began shortly after takeoff, and it was here that I noticed one flight attendant seemed to be working both aisles until well into the service when she was joined by another from the back. This made service a bit slow in my opinion, at least until the other flight attendant appeared. Here’s what the always reliable Delta First Class Omelet looks like. IMG_1385 And what kind of guy would I be without trying out the seat. Here’s a shot of the legroom. IMG_1378 And the IFE. IMG_1375 It’s a little easier for me to use this image courtesy of Delta Air Lines to show you the seat in lie flat mode. 2009-55DSC_2963 hi You’ll notice some blue plastic molding or something similar encroaching on the legroom in this shot. I learned from my buddy, The Weekly Flyer, that row 1 does not have this which adds a bit to legroom, so I chose a seat in row 1. Another note, the odd numbered rows feature the console (tray table, power outlets, etc. separating you from the aisle, and they felt a good bit more private. In the end, all that matters is could I sleep in this seat, and the answer is yes. It was a bit tight when lying on my back, but I sleep on my side, so I found the seat perfectly suitable for sleeping. However, there wasn’t much need for sleep on this westbound domestic flight. Since this was an international aircraft, there is no wi-fi yet. However, something just seemed to make the flight go a lot faster this time as opposed to my last trip to Seattle in coach. :) For good measure, heres a scene from the approach into Seattle. IMG_1394 In the end, it was a great flight, with reasonably friendly service, good inflight entertainment, and a comfortable seat. Turns out, I really didn’t miss the wi-fi that much, but I won’t make a habit of flying non wi-fi aircraft if I can help it.

-MJ, July 28, 2014

To say that I viewed the thought of a transcontinental redeye in coach with a sense of trepidation would be a mild understatement. The flight out wasn’t so bad, but it was daylight, I had “beginning of the trip motivation,” a great hotel room waiting on the other end, and…well…it wasn’t a redeye. One might ask why I would do such a thing? It’s a fair question. First, I had an expiring “buy one get one” coupon courtesy of my Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex. Second, we needed to get to Seattle, and the coupon helped cover the costs. Finally, the timing just worked.

The details – Delta Air Lines B737-900, row 10, a bulkhead on the ABC side of the aircraft. This was not my first 737-900 ride with Delta, but it was my first in the coach cabin. If you nab bulkhead seats on the left side, there is no partition blocking your feet. You have access to the area underneath the seat in front of you. This would prove handy.

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As my backpack was fairly empty, I had some room to work my feet into the space and stretch out. After takeoff, I carefully reclined about 1 inch….nowhere near max recline, and not without looking to see that the person behind me was already out cold. I shut my eyes, and the next thing I knew, we were just over an hour outside of Atlanta. I remember taking off, and that’s about it.

Keys to sleeping on an airplane in coach – picking the right seat that offers a little room to stretch out and being a little tired. I’m sure an hour or so in the Sky Club for a cocktail beforehand didn’t hurt either. In the end, while I found the bulkhead seat a little tight due to the tray table being in the armrest, this might be the one I pick on my next 737 transcon with Delta…. if I can’t manage an upgrade. I hear the rest of the airplane is fairly snug in coach.

-MJ, July 7, 2014

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