IT’S BACK. AMEX OFFERING FAT SKYMILES BONUS. Through May 31, members of American Express Membership Rewards who transfer points to Delta SkyMiles earn a 50 percent bonus. Register online. It gets better: If you move at least 50,000 Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles, you also get a one-time bonus of 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs). That’s instant Silver Medallion status, meaning waived bag fees, the occasional upgrade, and early (ish) boarding. That’s a total of 75K SkyMiles if you transfer a minimum of 50K MR points. (Note: This offer is only eligible to first-time users of this transfer option.) This is the biggest and best offer that AMEX has run lately, so if you’ve been thinking about transferring to Delta from AMEX, now is the time to do it!
75K SKYMILES PLUS NEW BENNIES FOR AMEX PLATINUM. Have you read about the new bonuses and benefits on the new American Express Platinum card? While the card is pricey at $450 per year, you can easily make up for that cost. Here’s how: Sign up for the Platinum card by May 31, spend $1000 and you get a 50,000 Membership Rewards points bonus. Once those points are in your MR account, transfer them to your Delta SkyMiles account (see above) and get a 50 percent bonus, so 75,000 miles– which helps defray the $450 annual fee for the Platinum card, which now comes with a raft of new and existing bennies such as membership in Delta, American and US Airways lounge programs, Priority Pass, no foreign transaction fees, a Global Entry pass rebate and more. Here’s the link to sign up for the Platinum Card. What do you think? Is it worth jumping through these hoops? (Note: This MR transfer offer is only eligible for first-time users of the MR to SkyMiles transfer option.)
FOLLOW YOUR BAGS ONLINE (AND MORE). Delta has instituted unique new service that allows you to track your checked bags from start to finish just like you can do with FEDEX or UPS packages. Simply enter your surname and bag tag number and follow the status of your bag during your travels. If your bag is lost, you can check its progress on the way back to you with the file reference number you receive at the baggage claim office. The system can also send text messages to your phone if there are bag irregularities often alerting you before you reach baggage claim. While it may not reduce the number of lost bags, it can certainly ease the stress of knowing the status of your missing underwear. And there’s more: In addition to being the only airline offering this bag tracking service, Delta says that it will refund baggage fees if checked bags are delayed by more than 12 hours. This goes above and beyond recent DOT rules that require fee refunds only if bags are lost or destroyed. (Now if they could just do something about those late night carousel clusters at ATL!)
FAST TRACK TO MEDALLION. Delta has sent out targeted offers to many Medallion members who have had slower than normal travel patterns this year. The offers are meant only for the recipient of the email and encourage a specified number of flights within a certain time period to earn double miles. Flights beyond that specified amount earn a mileage bonus for every flight ranging from 50 to 100 percent. It varies for each member (and remember, not everyone receives the offer), so be sure to check your spam or junk folders for any emails from Delta. You could be missing out on lots of miles!
DELTA ON TWITTER. You’ve heard us proclaim the benefits of Delta’s Twitter team @DeltaAssist, and we’ve been following the comments from frequent users on Facebook and Twitter. Recently, TICKET contributor Ramsey Qubein experienced the service first hand and is hooked. While traveling in India, he was trying to confirm a ticket he had on hold, but delta.com was not cooperating. With no access to an affordable phone line, he turned to Twitter. Within minutes of sending a Tweet to @DeltaAssist at 6am ET, he had a response. Within ten minutes, his problem was solved. The social media team at Delta has almost a dozen staff members monitoring the various online channels to help travelers. If you find yourself stuck, without a phone, or at the end of your rope, give it a try!
DELTA DIAMOND UPGRADES. At a recent travel industry conference in Atlanta, SkyMiles chief Jeff Robertson said that Delta Diamond Medallions get upgraded 94 percent of the time.
BONJOUR PARIS! This summer, Delta and Air France will each offer two daily roundtrips between ATL and Paris CDG (for a total of four). Air France will add its second rotation on March 27, while Delta will introduce its additional flight June 1. Atlanta and Paris are two of SkyTeam’s biggest and busiest hubs– last year saw 126,000 passengers who traveled exclusively between the two cities, 65 per cent of whom traveled on Delta. That’s a lot of baguette and cheese-loving traffic. With that much lift between the two cities, travelers should have a better chance for more award seats this summer (especially on Air France, which seems to offer more award availability than Delta on this route). Keep checking delta.com since Air France awards are made available on the site.
DELTA AT LAX. Delta is spreading its wings further at Los Angeles International in an effort to gain a stronger foothold on the West Coast. Beefed up schedules mean flights will operate almost hourly between LA and San Francisco and LA and Las Vegas. These highly competitive routes have lots of strong competition so expect fares to be lower than usual this summer. By July 1, Delta Connection will fly 11 times daily between LAX and SFO. The CRJ700 and CRJ900 Barbie jets plying the route are equipped with First Class. Delta and Delta Connection will operate nine flights between LAX and Sin City. Nearly a million people travel between these two cities every year so there should be enough business for all of the airlines to share. Significant connecting traffic from Delta’s Tokyo-Los Angeles flight keeps this route busy; Asian travelers love Las Vegas (Baby)!
TRANSATLANTIC SUMMER: If you are considering a summer trip across the pond, now’s the time to make a decision. Ticket prices are getting painfully high, but there are some ways to skirt them if you are flexible. Plus there are plenty of business class deals to be had. To learn more, be sure to read TICKET editor Chris McGinnis’ latest BBC.com column Transatlantic Summer Travel.
DELTA CUTBACKS. While Delta is full steam ahead in certain markets, world events are slowing its growth in others. This month, Delta has announced the discontinuation of nonstop flights from JFK to Cairo and Amman, Jordan due to political unrest. Previously, Delta had discontinued the Cairo flight for a few months, but now both routes are gone indefinitely. Check your reservations if you had plans to travel there. Delta is rebooking passengers on Air France/KLM flights or offering refunds. Also on the decline are load factors to Tokyo Haneda due to the recent earthquake, tsunami and lingering concerns about radiation. For now, Delta has suspended flights to Haneda until June due to low bookings.
SKYMILES MAKES IT RIGHT. A recent post on The TICKET included mention of a SkyMiles bonus program that we said applied to both mileage transfers and mileage gifts. It ends up that it only applied to mileage gifts. However, one longtime TICKET reader transferred miles based on our advice, but never got his bonus due to this technicality. Since it was our mistake that got him in the mess to begin with, we took our issue to our Delta SkyMiles contacts, who graciously made an exception in this case, and offered up the bonus miles to this TICKET reader. Thank you for going above and beyond, Delta!
DELTA CRJ GETS CLIPPED AND SPUN AROUND BY AIR FRANCE A380. In case you missed the 30-second video of this mishap at New York JFK last month, here it is. A Delta CRJ waiting on the taxiway gets pushed around by an Air France behemoth. Scary!
HEARTH TO HEARTH. Delta’s recent merger with Northwest has resulted in a melding of styles among Sky Clubs. Both airlines had lounges that had been renovated recently while others were sorely lagging in pizzazz. Northwest, especially, had some 1980s relics (Clubs at LaGuardia and SFO were certainly retro throwbacks). But Northwest clubs had something Delta’s did not: fireplaces, which Sky Club members can now find in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Memphis and San Francisco.
SHOWERLESS IN SEATTLE? From TICKET reader SG: “Delta has had a nonstop flight between to SEA and Osaka/Kansai for over a year. I have repeatedly asked the Delta lounge staff when the facility plans to install showers for passengers coming through after a 10-hour flight across the Pacific. There has been no response. Narita has showers. Atlanta has showers. Showers at these end points are not as useful because there is no time to take advantage of the service. Many SEA connections have a three-hour layover, presumably because of the need to pass through U.S. immigration. It would be nice to have a chance to take a shower. Might you be able to give the DL corporate managers this clue on how to vastly improve passenger satisfaction? Other lounges are receiving a makeover; why not SEA?” ANSWER: Delta is building a brand new Sky Club in Seattle’s South Terminal to replace the aged ex-Northwest World Club. The new club will be over 8,100 square feet with seating for more than 150 members and guests. It should be open by the summer of 2011. The new club will also include two shower suites and a contemporary interior design similar to the new Delta Sky Club elements as recently introduced in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta (B-10).
HOW ARE WE DOING? We live for reader feedback at The TICKET. So please, let us know what you think! How are we doing? What’s good about The TICKET? What’s not so good? What could we do to improve it? What did you learn in this issue? How has The TICKET improved your life as a frequent traveler? LET US KNOW!!
FREE BAGS ON ALASKA AIR. Delta Medallion members (including Silvers) no longer pay fees on the first two checked bags on Alaska Airlines flights. Currently you have to show your SkyMiles credentials to a counter agent to get the fee waived, but Delta says it’s working on providing the waiver automatically at online check-in, or at Alaska Air kiosks. Another reason to keep that Medallion credential in your wallet!
FDA TO DELTA: CLEAN UP! Read this only if you have a strong stomach and can bear to see words like “rodent excreta.”
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