Maho Beach May Be Changing After Recent Tourist Death

Maho Beach May Be Changing After Recent Tourist Death


Last week, a New Zealand woman was killed while watching planes take off at Maho Beach, St. Maarten.

The woman was clinging to a fence directly behind a jet which was taking off. The jet blast threw into a curb, where she hit her head and died.

While people have been injured at this famous aviation spot, no one has died. The beach is famous for being just a few feet from the runway; planes regularly position to take off and while the engines rev up, tourists feel the direct blast. For larger planes, the blast can be strong. Numerous videos can be found online showing visitors being blown across the sands.

The 747 doesn’t visit the island as of last year; this blast was from a smaller 737. Authorities remind tourists that the jet blast is no joke, as signs and warnings are posted all over the area. The heated blast can reach 200mph, throwing sand and pebbles into the faces of onlookers.

maho beach warning

This AV Geek paradise may face changes in the near future, as the international broadcast of the woman’s death has made authorities put a plan into action with stricter rules. There is no confirmation yet, but travelers can probably expect to see the fence moved further away from the runway, as well as changes to the roadway and curbs. In addition to the many signs posted, there will probably be more warnings added.

Delta MQD Waiver – What’s The Future?

Delta MQD Waiver – What’s The Future?

delta logo

Airline Status

Gaining “status” with any of the major domestic airlines requires not just flying many miles, but also achieving certain levels of dollar spend. A few years ago, the distance you flew translated directly to eligible miles towards “status”. Currently, you must ALSO spend a certain amount for each status level. This means that if you always buy the least expensive tickets, you’ll find it harder to achieve “status”. Conversely, if you fly for business and your employer buys expensive business class tickets, it’s easier to become an elite member.

Delta uses this concept to apply to all Medallion members and those who want Medallion elite status (Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond.

Click on the link to view the requirements :

The miles requirement is called MQM (Medallion Qualification Miles). The dollar spend requirement is called MQD (Medallion Qualification Dollars).

gold amex


Delta offers a waiver for MQDs – if you have a Delta Amex (available in Gold, Platinum, and Reserve varieties) and you spend $25,000 in one year on one of those cards, you do not have to hit the MQD requirement.

This is a huge deal, since to hit Platinum or Diamond status you would have to spend $9,000 or $15,000, respectively, on Delta tickets. I hit Diamond status this year, which is 125,000 MQMs, but spent less than $4,000 on actual tickets, thanks to the MQD waiver via the Delta Amex card.

There have been rumors circulating that Delta will remove this MQD waiver for Diamond status. This would effectively prevent many loyal fliers from achieving Diamond status, as the MQD requirement would be too hard to hit.


Is the airline trying to limit top-tier status, therefore making it more exclusive for those business travelers that don’t care about ticket price? Preventing most fliers from getting to Diamond will make travelers spend their money elsewhere; it gives them less reason to stay with Delta as a brand.


I wrote to Delta and received this response, which is a neutral answer and doesn’t really give any definitive insight (although this representative was very professional & polite, and replied within 24 hours, which was great!) :

Thank you for contacting us.

At this time, we do not have an MQD waiver for our Diamond Medallion flyers. We do, however, have a spend waiver for any Medallion spending over $25,000 when using their Delta American Express Card. We have not announced that we are discontinuing the spend waiver. Normally, when we make changes to our Medallion program, we make an announcement via email and on 6 months to a year ahead of time. I, nor my co-workers, have heard anything about this. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Thank you again for giving us an opportunity to respond to your concern. We very much appreciate your Diamond Medallion loyalty to Delta and look forward to the privilege of serving you again soon.

Dear Delta & Dear Amex : this would be a huge black eye on the SkyMiles Program and for Amex (I spend a lot of money with my Amex cards). Chase and others now have a more versatile program with equal or more impressive rewards, and this initiative would be a demerit for the airline and its partners. Diamond is a status that loyal fliers want to achieve! Do not remove the waiver for any status!



How Can SkyTeam Fliers Get on the 787 Dreamliners

SkyTeam Dreamliners

SkyTeam Dreamliners

As a loyal Delta flyer, I’ve been unable to get on the newest planes due to the company’s capex plans of buying refurbished planes like the 717. They’ve been the last of the legacy carriers to begin overhauling their fleet. United was the launch customer for the 787 Dreamliner, and American started taking delivery of the model last year. Delta had some on order from Northwest, but cancelled in 2016. They currently have no plans to fly Dreamliners, a bummer since I’ve been dying to get on one (but obviously still get miles for the flight, so United won’t suffice).

While medallion members are excited for the launch of the A350 on Delta later this year, they won’t be flying them out of NYC/JFK – instead they will be replacing the 747-400 on routes from Detroit. Until the A350 becomes more available, can I get on any Dreamliners?

Turns out the answer is yes – if you are ok with flying on a SkyTeam partner.

AeroMexico flies Dreamliners out of JFK to Mexico City – it also uses the plane on routes from MEX to New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid, London, Seoul, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Santiago.

KLM uses the 787 out of JFK to Amsterdam – the airline also uses the plane on routes from AMS to Abu Dhabi, Osaka, San Francisco, Rio, Shanghai, Colombo, Dubai, New York, Calgary, Kuala Lumpur, and Xiamen.

Air France is the latest SkyTeam Dreamliner purchaser – it will start using the plane from Paris to Atlanta and Boston next year, but currently uses it on routes from CDG to Cairo and Montreal.

I was trying to get to Mexico City via Dreamliner last year, and the mileage redemption rates were quite reasonable – sometimes as low as 30,000 for 787 Business Class one-way. There is a daily flight, but the prices in dollars are much more than the non-787 flights. Recently, I have not been able to find availability on Dreamliners using SkyMiles – not sure what’s going on with the Delta site currently.

Similarly, I was not able to price out the KLM 787 flights in miles either – only in dollars.

My goal is to get on a 787 using miles – stay tuned for an update after my call with Delta customer service to see what’s going on with redemption availability. For now, it is possible to check out the advanced 787 with a couple of SkyTeam airlines – hopefully it will become easier as more of these planes go into service.




Delta Announces First A350 Routes & New Suites

Delta Announces First A350 Routes & New Suites


Delta has confirmed the first few routes with Airbus A350 service :

Detroit to Tokyo, starting in Nov 2017

Detroit to Seoul, starting mid Nov 2017

Detroit to Beijing, starting Jan/Feb 2018


Note that these new A350s will debut with 32 new DeltaOne Suites as well as 48 of Delta’s new Premium Select seats. These planes will not feature Economy Comfort, but will have 226 Main Cabin seats. They will also have the latest entertainment systems, LED lighting, and 2KU wifi. These modern jets will replace 747-400s across Pacific routes.


Interestingly, Delta announced that if you are booked in DeltaOne Suites, you’ll be automatically bumped to First/Business class on any domestic connections you might have.

Delta Amex Card Bonuses Available Now

Delta Amex Bonuses

Now is a great time to sign-up for one of the Delta Amex cards – these deals expire 7/5/17. In addition to boosting your SkyMiles account, you can work on your 2017 and 2018 Medallion Status with the MQM bonuses. If you fly Delta at all, you should at least have the Gold card, which offers a $50 credit, waived baggage fees, and priority boarding.


Gold Delta Amex – 60,000 SkyMiles after spending $3,000 in 3 Months

Platinum Delta Amex – 70,000 SkyMiles & 10,000 MQMs after spending $4,000 in 3 Months

Reserve Delta Amex – 10,000 SkyMiles & 10,000 MQMs after your first purchase


What You Get :

Gold : 60,000 SkyMiles, $50 Delta Credit, Priority Boarding (SKY Zone), First Checked Bag Free, 2x Points Earnings on Delta Purchases 1x on everything else, and 20% discount on Delta in-flight purchases

$95 annual fee after the 1st year; Spend $25,000 and you’re eligible for the MQD waiver



Platinum : 70,000 SkyMiles, annual companion certificate for coach, 10,000 MQMs, $100 Delta Credit, Priority Boarding (SKY Zone), First Checked Bag Free, 2x Points Earnings on Delta Purchases 1x on everything else, and 20% discount on Delta in-flight purchases

$195 annual fee; Spend $25,000 and you’re eligible for the MQD waiver; also eligible for another 10,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000, and another 10,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000



Reserve : 10,000 SkyMiles, & 10,000 MQMs, annual companion certificate for coach or first class, Priority Boarding (SKY Zone), First Checked Bag Free, 2x Points Earnings on Delta Purchases 1x on everything else, and 20% discount on Delta in-flight purchases, Delta SkyClub membership, upgrade priority within your status & fare class

$450 annual fee; Spend $25,000 and you’re eligible for the MQD waiver; also eligible for another 15,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000, and another 15,000 SkyMiles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000

DeltaONE Deals Available with SkyMiles

DeltaONE Deals

deltaONE 767 premium

A few facts :

The Delta Amex Gold card is now being offered with 60,000 SkyMiles after you spend $3,000

The Delta Amex Platinum card is now being offered with 70,000 SkyMiles after you spend $4,000

Delta offers its first class service, DeltaOne, on only a few domestic flights, generally called TransCon flights : JFK to SFO, JFK to LAX, DCA to LAX, and BOS to SFO.

DeltaONE service includes high-end chef-curated meals and specifically matched wines, lie-flat seating, Westin Heavenly bedding, TUMI amenity kits, and access to the SkyClub. Delta now offers champagne on these flights as well. This is Delta’s premier domestic service, and is equivalent to international business class. You’ll get either a renovated 757 or a 767 wide-body.

Now, some good deals :

Currently, there is significant availability for one-way DeltaOne mileage redemptions at 25,000. This is usually 45,000 and more commonly 55,000 SkyMiles.

The cash price for a one-way flight in DeltaOne is around $540, meaning if you get the deal at 25,000 miles, those miles are worth 2.2 cents. That also means by opening a Delta Amex Gold you’re getting $1,296 worth of value. Not too shabby.

There is only so-so availability at the 25,000 rate, but significant redemptions at 30,000 to 45,000. If you can snag these, its a great value – main cabin redemptions are going for 12,500 (rare) and more commonly 17,500 to 20,000. Why not spend the 6 hour flight in a bed being served fine food and drink?


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.