American Airlines EQD Changes

American Airlines has completely moved to a revenue based system just like Delta and United, this is not a good thing for consumers, but we must now work within that system. Up until this week Delta had a significant advantage over American Airlines. Each airline requires a minimum spend limit on flights to get elite status. Delta had a way to spend money on their credit card and bypass the spending requirement for flights. Finally this week American Airlines has come out with their plan for Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD), and it's not good.

American Airlines almost completely mimics the Delta EQD requirements. 

  • Gold - $3000
  • Platinum - $6000
  • Platinum Pro - $9000
  • Executive Platinum - $12000

The way American plans to work this is that if you spend $25,000 on an AAdvantage credit card, you get $3000 toward your Elite Qualifying Dollar requirement. On certain credit cards, you can then make additional purchases to $25,000 to gain another $3000 toward your EQD requirement. That is a blistering $50,000 of spend to only make it half way to the Executive Platinum requirement. 

Compare this with Delta where you can spend $25,000 on any Delta Skymiles credit card and that will waive the MQD requirement. The requirements are identical to American Airlines except Diamond Medallion status is $15,000. The beauty here is you need to put half as much spend on your credit cards and receive more than twice the benefit toward qualifying dollars.

Once again, Delta comes out ahead here. I really want to like American Airlines again, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot.

Delta's Premium Economy Coming in 2017

Delta has recently announced that coming in 2017, they too will begin to offer a Premium Economy product on their flights. This move seems to be one of the rare times that Delta follows where American Airlines leads, since American already announced the addition of a premium economy to start around the same time frame. American airlines is actually already flying their premium economy seats, but right now is selling them under economy class seats until they officially go on sale next year.

Delta will be calling this new product "Delta Premium." Premium economy for Delta will be similar to many other airlines, the seat will feature something more like a first class seat we in the US are used to seeing on a domestic flight. The seat will recline with a leg rest. It will also be wider, have more leg room and better recline.

Along with the seat comes an amenity kit, likely to be a slightly paired down version of what we see in business class. An In Flight Entertainment (IFE) system with a larger screen. Ground beverage service prior to departure. Meals will also be slightly upgraded from Economy meals and probably land somewhere along the lines of what we see in domestic first class as well. Lastly is the priority boarding on the plane.

Pricing will likely be somewhere between economy and business class, I my eyes favoring slightly on the lower side toward the economy class side of the spectrum. This will completely be up in the air until we see these seats actually go on sale.

Overall this is a good change to see from Delta and other American carriers. If I need to pay flat out, I'd rather pay a little extra money for more leg room than economy is offering. Of course the lie flat bed of business class will always be my preference, premium economy is a great alternative for a paid economy seat.

Delta Partners with Airbnb

Delta has some pretty awesome partnerships. On the hotel side, if you are a elite member on Delta and at Starwood Hotels, you will earn Delta miles on Starwood Stays and Starwood points on Delta flights. Earning these rewards give you an awesome chance to sort of double dip, getting miles and points this way is an important perk to take advantage of where you can.

This week Delta announced another partnership, this time with Airbnb.

If you are unfamiliar with Airbnb, the idea is that regular people who may not be using a home, apartment or some other dwelling, can post it for a short time or permanently on Airbnb for people to stay in for short vacation periods. 

Airbnb representatives had the following to say:

“We are excited to partner with Delta and offer their travelers the opportunity to earn Delta miles when staying and hosting n Airbnb, while creating memorable moments with friends and family,” said Lex Bayer, Head of Business Development, Airbnb. “SkyMiles members can now enjoy the additional benefits of living like a local with authentic travel experiences on Airbnb in all global destinations that Delta services.”

So it appears that staying with Airbnb will now be able to earn you Delta Skymiles.

It looks like Airbnb bookings need to be made through the Delta Airbnb partner site, which will request your Delta Skymiles account before redirecting you to the booking site. 

There are a few additional perks running with this promotion that may be worth a try. First, if you have never created an Airbnb account, as a new guest you are given $25 off your first booking, 1000 bonus Skymiles on your first booking and the standard 1 Skymile per $1 spent at Airbnb.

Second, if you want to host through Airbnb and have never done so, this partnership allows you to get a bonus 25,000 Skymiles. These are some pretty awesome one time perks, but in my mind not really worth going out of my way for. If I try Airbnb, it'll certainly be something I take advantage of, but the earning rates are not good enough to make me switch away from Starwood Hotels.

I will say this though, if you stay at Airbnb already, this is great. Personally I tend to stay at Starwood hotels instead. Earning a few Delta Skymiles is certainly not a good reason to switch from Starwood to Airbnb. Starwood points are just too valuable. Also, keep in mind that if you take advantage of the existing Delta and Starwood partnership, you already earn 1 Skymile per dollar spent at Starwood hotels, on top of getting Starwood points as well and that's a far better way to earn miles/points.

Flying Delta First Class For $10

It's no secret that points and miles are a great way to not only get flights to all parts of the world, but to do so in the best seats on the plane. Rarely do I fly in economy anymore and if you asked me if that was worth it 2 years ago, I would have told you no... but when I can fly to my hometown for $10 in first class, how can you argue that.

Knowing your points and credit cards is key here. I am always trying to minimize the amount of points I spend while still trying to maximize the amount of miles I earn. It can be a juggling act that requires you to keep up on the best methods with multiple different companies in a constantly changing market. 

So how did I do it?

There were two aims on this flight booking, I am at the end of a status challenge with Delta. I'm about 4,200 miles short of meeting that challenge. So I needed to get those miles on a single round trip, to a location that isn't far enough away to give me that many miles in a normal trip. On top of all that, my current job situation means I don't have much money to spend on this flight.

There is a way to make all of this happen. Citi ThankYou points can be redeemed through their website for flights on any airline. While ThankYou points are usually more valuable as a transferable currency, using these points right now is better at a less than optimal rate, if only because I can't really spend money on a flight right now.

Next, we need to tackle the problem of the short flight distance. Normally the flight to Central New York would not grab me the 4,200 miles that I would need to meet the Delta challenge I'm currently undertaking. This is partly where first class comes in. On a paid ticket, first class earns 150% Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM).

Still this does not meet the full 4,200 miles I needed... now we need to get creative with the routing. By adding a short extra flight to the itinerary, it gains me the additional miles needed. Knowing the rules of a program can turn things in your favor.

Delta like many domestic carriers has a minimum mileage guarantee, meaning that no flight will earn you less than 500 MQM's ever. In first class, that means short flights of 500 miles or less will always earn you 750 miles. So if I take a short flight from Syracuse to JFK, then that 200 mile journey equals 750 MQM's. Same thing from Atlanta to Greenville. Using these routing rules to my advantage turns a short round trip flight into 4,500 MQM's, well over the 4,200 I still need to earn status.

How did I pay for it?

This one was tricky. I debated using all points for this through Citi ThankYou rewards. ThankYou points allow you to use your points to purchase a ticket, costing me nothing, but to Delta it still acts as a paid ticket meaning miles and MQM's are still earned like a paid ticket. Problem is, I don't want to spend all of my points if I can help it. 

Now my Chase Sapphire Reserve card steps in. This credit card comes with a $300 credit toward airfare, meaning that my purchase of a ticket will automatically be $300 off... to Delta they don't see this discount since it is applied on the credit card end of the transaction, once again earning me full miles with Delta.

To maximize both the credit from Chase and pay the least amount possible, I actually split the flight in two. Setting up a one way flight in each direction. I paid each of the flights separately, one with the Chase credit card and one with Citi ThankYou points. In this way I used the Chase credit which will expire at the end of the year before I am issued another $300 credit (it's a yearly perk). At the same time I minimized the amount of points used from my Citi card.

Points fully paid for one direction, no money out of pocket. The Chase credit and a small credit already on the card almost fully paid for the other direction, leaving only about $10 to pay out of pocket. Using all of your credit card perks and points you've built up, you can make a flight virtually free, just knowing how all of this works to your advantage will save you massive amounts of money.

Delta Skymiles and Private Jets

Delta has just announced the ability to use Skymiles to get on board one of their private jets. Let me warn you up front, do not do this!!!

Let me explain. Delta has been driving down the worth of their Skymiles, ultimately it appears they are shooting to make each Skymile worth only 1 cent. Now this is a slow, but definitely steady process. Yet again this week, Delta has devalued their program for the 9 millionth time... alright that may be a small exaggeration, but more on that later

As Skymiles customers, our goal should always be to get the most worth out of miles as we possibly can. 

Delta has now released the ability for those of us with millions of miles, to spend them on private jets. First things first, Skymiles are being devalued so fast and frequently, no one in the right mind should be sitting on multiple millions of Skymiles, just don't do that. If you do happen to have that many Skymiles, the private jet may sound tempting.

Keep in mind that Delta is driving toward 1 cent per mile, and that is exactly what is being offered here from Delta. Starting at 2.5 million Skymiles, you will be able to pick up a Delta $25,000 Jet Card that acts like a private jet prepaid card. Using their private jet service will deduct off this prepaid card as you use the service.

If you are flush with miles and don't care about maxing out your usage, then by all means go for the card if that is what you want. I don't recommend it, since your miles are worth far more if applied correctly. At the end of the day, each person may want to use their miles for different things, so it is entirely up to you. Personally I'd much rather fly all over the world in business class than get a few rides in a private jet.

This just seems to be the latest way for Delta to try to reduce your mileage count at a rate that is very favorable to them. Devaluations are flying free and wild now with Delta, once again making me take a hard look at going free agent on the loyalty front. For now, I'd stay away from this private jet perk and focus on spending the miles you have in a way that gets you to amazing locations, in comfortable seating, at fantastic prices.