The Benefits of Delta’s top-tier Diamond Medallion Status

Delta Diamond Medallion Benefits

Diamond Medallion

Diamond Medallion is Delta’s top status for its most frequent travelers. In theory, this flier travels often and is loyal to Delta, and in return, Delta should go out of its way to reward this customer and to keep his/her business.

What exactly do you have to do to achieve this level of “status” with Delta?

Per Delta’s website, this is what you need to work your way up the loyalty ladder :

  • To reach SILVER, you will need 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs and $3,000 MQD.
  • To reach GOLD, you will need 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and $6,000 MQDs.
  • To reach PLATINUM, you will need 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and $9,000 MQDs.
  • To reach DIAMOND, you will need 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and $15,000 MQDs.

125,000 MQMs are actual miles flown, which is different from SkyMiles, which are the miles used for redemption for free flights. SkyMiles are based on the amount you paid for your ticket plus a multiplier based on your status. So the higher status you are, the more SkyMiles you’ll get for the same ticket price.

Delta One_Alessi_2

There are a few nice loopholes that you can utilize on your way up to Delta Diamond Medallion. First, you can rollover MQMs from last year. For example, I purposely ended 2016 with 124,000 MQMs (just under the Diamond threshold of 125,000), therefore 49,000 MQMs rolled into 2017 (124K – 75K = 49K). Second, you can use the Delta Platinum & Delta Reserve credit cards to boost your MQMs with certain amounts of spend; I used the Delta Reserve card and spent $30,000 in order to get 15,000 MQMs (you also get 15,000 SkyMiles as well as that $30,000 spend counting towards the $25,000 exemption amount for MQDs). Thirdly, you can further “boost” your MQMs with either of those aforementioned cards – the Reserve card gives you another 15,000 MQMs and 15,000 SkyMiles when you spend another $30,000 (total $60,000).

So before any actual flying in 2017, I have 49K rollover MQMs and 15K MQMs from the first $30K spend – and Im almost at the next spend threshold – so figure 79K MQMs. Then add in actual flights, and I successfully passed the 125K MQM requirement for Delta Diamond Medallion Status.


How does Delta reward is best customers?

Comfort+ upon booking on all flights (you choose a regular seat and the system automatically allows you to book Comfort+)

11x SkyMiles Multiplier for all flights (up from 9x as a Platinum) – this helps you earn more redeemable miles faster

Waived fees for baggage, booking, same day confirmed, and award ticket re-deposits (same as Platinum)

Premium boarding (ahead of Sky & Zones 1-3; board first regardless of where you’re actually sitting)

VIP Customer service line

Enhanced SkyTeam & Hertz partnership benefits

And the biggest additions :

Unlimited complimentary upgrades to Business Class on domestic and some international flights – prioritized (you’re first on the upgrade list)

Delta SkyClub Individual membership

Complimentary CLEAR membership to expedite security

Choice of 3 of the following “Diamond selections” : SkyClub Executive membership (guests are free on top of your existing Individual membership); 25,000 SkyMiles; 8 Regional Upgrades or 4 International Upgrades or a combo of both; Gift card  valued at a few hundred dollars; the ability to gift “Fold” status to another Delta flier; up to 2 free global entry vouchers.

Additional details can be found here :


For me, and most fliers I talk to, getting priority upgrades is huge, and Diamond does make a large difference coming from Platinum. (I’ve tracked my upgrades, and ignoring international travel where its ineligible, as well as flights involving Atlanta, where everyone is a Diamond medallion, the upgrade percentages are approximately 5-10% for Silver, 40-45% for Gold, and 65-70% for Platinum). The minor additions like always boarding first, better customer service, and added SkyMiles are helpful also. Choosing the Global upgrades, which you can use on KLM, AirFrance, and Virgin, is a huge value – for the price of whatever you paid to fly internationally in coach, you can get the DeltaOne First Class experience for free. You can opt for the regional upgrades, but remember, you also received those as a Platinum member. If you don’t have the Delta Reserve card, which has SkyClub access, this selection is worth $450 a year at least.

After 2-3 years flying with Delta exclusively, I’m excited to see how Diamond Medallion status changes and elevates the flying experience. Stay tuned!





Delta to Offer Improved Food and Free Prosecco on Domestic & Int’l Flights

Delta Upgrades Food + Offers Champagne Domestic Flights

delta champagne

Summer in the skies with Delta!

Among Delta’s other recent food upgrades, like fine china in business class, new snacks in coach, meals in transcon flights, and upgrades to the revolving first class menus, the airline is excited to offer new chef-inspired and prepared meals in Delta One. This includes transcon flights like JFK to SFO/LAX, DCA to LAX, and BOS to SFO. Some of the chef’s are from renowned Union Square Hospitality Group, led by Danny Meyer, and whose locations include Blue Smoke, Porchlight, and Maialino.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, all North American flights will feature Prosecco for First Class and Comfort+. This service is also offered for purchase in regular economy.

Summary :

I would say Delta is really ramping up it’s food and beverage experience – although not at ME3 levels yet, this is a step in the right direction. It also puts American and United to shame.

The more champagne, the better! I’m looking forward to experiencing this on Delta.



What Happened to the McDonnell Douglas DC-10?

McDonnell Douglas DC-10


The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 is a wide-body 3 engine aircraft for medium to long haul flights. Manufactured by McDonnell Douglas from 1970 to 1989, it has a distinctive look thanks to the 3rd engine mounted in the tail.

In 1965, American Airlines requested a commercial jet that was smaller than the 747 but could operate similarly long routes. While theoretically providing competition for Boeing, the DC-10 had a series of engineering mishaps that sealed its fate and kept its sales, and popularity, significantly lower than the famous Boeing jets.

McDonnell Douglas sold 389 passenger versions and 60 tanker versions to the military. What held the plane back from becoming as popular as other jets? First, an engineering flaw related to the locking mechanisms on the cargo doors caused de-pressurization incidents. Secondly, as big jets gained popularity in the 70’s, more and more people were travelling, and issues across the airlines began popping up. Issues such as maintenance, engine technology issues, and other items that were less a distinct flaw of the DC-10 and more a consequence of new technology not being tested thoroughly. Lastly, the DC-10 was a victim of publicity – the mounting issues combined with the bad news around the plane left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, even if the plane was not always at fault.

Events with the DC-10

The cargo door : cargo doors that open outward leave more room for cargo, but require complicated locking mechanisms. The locks on the DC-10 cargo door were not strong enough to handle some pressurization situations, and began failing, allowing the door to rip off the plane, leading to depressurization of the aircraft. This first occurred in 1972 on American Airlines 96, whose cargo door blew open after taking off from Detroit. The explosion decompression ripped out part of the passenger deck floor, which ripped through control cables, making the plane nearly impossible to fly. The flight landed safely with no loss of life, however. Two years later in 1974, Turkish Airlines 981 suffered a similar explosive decompression due to the cargo door not being sealed properly, and crashed after taking off from Paris, killing all 346 people on board.

Another engineering issue : In 1979, American Airlines 191 lifted off from Chicago, and its engine and pylon ripped off the wing, cutting hydraulic cables and causing the uncontrollable plane to crash seconds later, killing 271 people. This accident was caught on camera, which made it a much bigger deal than previous incidents. In people’s minds, the DC-10 was a cursed plane. The cause of the engine falling off was found to be faulty maintenance by American Airlines, but the engineering prolbme was that when the engine fell off, it cut the primary AND backup systems, which should not have all been in the same place. It also showcased other minor engineering fails on McDonnell Douglas’ part, such as not having locks on leading edge slats (the slats should be locked on takeoff, even if the primary and backup systems fail – if they had remain locked, the wing would not have lost as much lift, and the pilots could’ve had a chance to right the plane). The FAA grounded all DC-10s after this issue, again putting a black mark on the aircraft in the public view.

Similar problems : In 1989, United Airlines 232 had a uncontained fan disk failure – parts of the tail engine blew up, again ripping out primary and backup control systems. Although neither United nor McDonnell Douglas was found to be at fault for the disk failure, it illuminated the problem of poor design within the DC-10 – losing primary and backup systems at the same time was considered impossible, so it was not taken into account properly in the design phase. The pilots managed to crash land the damaged plane on a runway but 111 people still died.


Aside from these main tragedies in public eye, there were numerous other incidents which combined to put a dark cloud over the DC-10. In 1973, National Airlines 27 suffered an engine failure – some exploding parts of the engine ruptured a window and a passenger was sucked out. In 1979, New Zealand 901, a special Antarctic sightseeing flight, crashed into Mount Erebus due to poor weather and guidance issues, killing all 257 people.

Some say the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was unfairly trashed in the media, and that all airliners have had issues or high-publicity crashes. The DC-10 definitely had those, and along with the rapidly progressing engineering advances from competitors like Boeing, the plane not only gained a bad reputation among fliers but was soon outclassed by newer planes.





Delta Flight Crews Now Have Personalization Software


Delta Flight Crews and New Software

Back in 2015, Delta rolled out GST, or Guest Service Tool, allowing its flight crews to see passenger names, Medallion status, special meal requests, and other guest details. It also allowed the discontinuation of the 500-page FAA required FA Service Manual.

This month, Delta releases new technology that will allow flight attendants to know even more about you. After a 1-month test run on specific flights, the software rolls out across domestic routes – and reviews are shining. Delta flight crews will know if you were delayed on an earlier flight, if you had customer service issues last week, or if another flight was late. They can then work in your Delta flight “history” and converse accordingly. “Good Afternoon Mr Smith, and welcome to Delta Flight 75 – I see you were delayed earlier today, so I have 5,000 SkyMiles for you. I also see you love Bloody Marys, and I’ve taken the liberty to prepare you one. Enjoy, and thanks for flying with us.”

So far, responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with a 99%+ good/great rating from passengers. While this is a worthwhile move forward for Delta, it will be interesting to see what else they can with the tech and data.


Passenger on United flight forced to pee in cup


On a United flight from Houston to Kansas City, a passenger asked the flight attendant to use the bathroom. When the flight attendant pointed out that the seatbelt sign was on, the passenger informed the FA that she had a bladder problem and REALLY needed to go. Still denied, the passenger noted that if not allowed to use the bathroom she would have to go in a cup – and voila! the flight attendant brought over a cup.

This ordeal was documented on Facebook, and follows with notes of being embarrassed by the FA, having to carry the cups to the bathroom, and being told they would have to get a special team to clean the seat. As the details unfold (I bet you cant WAIT!) Im thinking of how I probably couldn’t even move around enough in a coach seat to really actually use a cup for that purpose.




Also, lets give a shout out to the United PR folks who have clearly been working double shifts lately.

Note : cup pictured is not actual cup used

Delta is Partnering with Blade for Helicopter transportation from JFK to Manhattan

Delta Airlines

Blade, the helicopter-ride start-up, is partnering with Delta Airlines at JFK to help customers have a quicker, more comfortable ride into Manhattan.


If you enlist Blade’s services when arriving at JFK, you’ll be met on the Jet Bridge by Delta’s Elite services team who will also get any checked luggage you may have, and escorted to a car, which will drive you a short distance to the Blade pad. The helicopter than whisks you to one of 3 pads / lounges in Manhattan (E34th, E23rd, or W30th). If going the other way (departing out of JFK), the service includes a special expedited TSA security area and someone taking you right to your seat on the plane.

Blade normally charges around $200 for the 8-minute one-way lift, depending on times and availability. Booking with Delta and including the extra services that come with the package adds anywhere from $250 – $1000 to that fee. Over the years, similar services have been offered, but either lacked the promotion, technology, or the correct tie-in with the airlines.


“With Delta, BLADE has found a partner that shares the same customer-centric focus to provide a truly unrivaled travel experience,” said BLADE Founder and CEO Rob Wiesenthal. “The integration of BLADE airport transfers into Delta’s core offerings will enable us to remove much of the friction faced by many frequent travelers: the challenge of quickly transferring between Manhattan and JFK.”

It will be interesting to see how this service enhances the Delta One and Business Class experience at JFK, and how popular this service becomes. Also, it would be great to see this somehow tied in to Delta’s medallion program, or to be able to purchase Blade rides with SkyMiles. Blade also has lounges on Long Island – is this a future potential add-on as well? Download the app and stay tuned!

Fights breaks out in Fort Lauderdale when Spirit Airlines cancels flights


There are many reasons to avoid Fort Lauderdale, such as alligators and humidity and just Florida, but now there is another – fighting in airport terminal over cancelled flights.

On Monday 5/8, Spirit Airlines cancelled a couple of flights, and passengers were so angry they began attacking each other and airline employees.

The reason for cancellations related to ongoing labor disputes with its pilots. The Broward County police dept had to be called in, and reported no major injuries or arrests – however many people were detained.

Spirit Airlines, already a sh*tshow, now has this to add to its PR list.

Delta’s April 2017 On-Time Performance Plummets


With April #s in, Delta drops to the bottom of the barrel in on-time performance – an area which it has been a leader for a long time. In fact, the airline brags about its operations and its investment in on-time performance and the lack of cancellations – and the numbers usually do back this up.

On-time is considered within 15 mins of schedule – and in April Delta dropped to just over 77%. This allowed Southwest, United, and American to pull ahead although only by 1-2% points.

These numbers were caused by Delta’s epic IT fail – the technology glitch at its Atlanta headquarters caused thousands of flights to be delayed and cancelled.

The 77% for April is off Delta’s 2016 full-year of 84% – not the highest in the world but outstanding considering it operated the second highest number of flights globally.

Globally, Delta ranks 15th overall in on-time performance – beaten out domestically by Hawaiian & Alaska (who have considerably less flights and don’t operate globally). KLM, Qantas, and Singapore are international big-boys who are in the top 10.

Cause of delays are often blamed on the carrier (4.2%) but can also be attributed to weather (.5%) & Aviation System / Controls (5.5%).


Delta & AeroMexico Additional Codeshare routes


Although friendly for many years now, Delta and Aeromexico recently announced coordinated pricing, schedules, operations, and efficiencies. This should, according to the carries, counter their competition and service added destinations. They will also work together on improving the customer experience by investing in airport facilities, lounges, and boarding areas, as well as behind the scenes areas like marketing & sales.

Delta, United, and American now control about 2/3 of the US – Mexico cross-border flights – this is before the official legislation on the Delta / Aeromexico deal. Delta owns 36% of Aeromexico with options to purchase another 13% for a total of 49%.

The JV will utilize the hubs of both carriers to provide passengers flying between the US and Mexico connecting options. Delta has hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York (both LaGuardia and JFK), Salt Lake City and Seattle. Aeromexico has hubs in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.

Aeromexico is listed as a Tier 1 partner, along with Air France & KLM, so we should expect similar MQM and mileage accruals.

Aeromexico operates over 600 daily flights, and its network includes 44 destinations in Mexico, 19 in the United States, 15 in Latin America, 4 in Canada, 4 in Europe and 3 in Asia.

From Delta’s web page :

Effective May 8, 2017, Medallion Members will receive additional benefits when traveling with Aeromexico, as a part of Delta and Aeromexico’s growing partnership.

  • Medallion Members will be eligible for Complimentary Upgrades on all intra-Mexico Aeromexico flights, as well as Aeromexico flights between Mexico and the U.S., Central America, Caribbean, Colombia and Ecuador.
  • Medallion Members will now receive Complimentary Upgrades based on their individual Medallion Status (starting with Diamond, then Platinum, Gold, and Silver) instead of SkyTeam Elite status, better recognizing the loyalty of our Medallion Members.
  • Medallion Members will be automatically added to the airport standby list for these flights, as long as their SkyMiles number is added to the reservation.
  • Medallion Members will be eligible for upgrades after all Club Premier Members have cleared.

Rumor that engine falls off United flight untrue


There were images going around of what looked like an engine lying on the ground next to a United Airbus A320 at Newark. A lot of people, including myself, were wondering how an engine could just fall off the wing of a plane, and what would have happened if that plane was, you know, flying at the time when the engine fell off.

Although not much information has been released on the incident, it’s safe to now say that the engine didn’t fall off the plane – an axle broke on the right-hand landing gear, causing the plane to tilt to the right, which is why the engine looks like its on the ground. So, its a relief to know the engine didn’t fall off, but not sure of the axle collapsing is really great either.