Over the last few years I would estimate my travel patterns have evolved into roughly a mix of 80 percent business/20 percent personal. Assuming I keep the same day job I’ve had for a while, I’m going to fly wether I take a vacation or three per year or not. Last year, I decided to break up with the traditional idea of loyalty for me, and really focus on schedule and price when making air travel choices. In that time, this SkyMiles Platinum Medallion has flown around 30 segments on a mix of American, US Airways, and Southwest flights with additional Delta flights mixed in when that made the most sense. It should be noted that none of this stopped me from taking advantage of select credit card offers for various mileage currencies, especially AAdvantage miles. I recently picked up a Delta biz card as well, primarily for the Medallion Qualification Miles, but a few bonus redeemable miles too.

Lessons Learned

Even in Atlanta, there are alternatives to Delta Air Lines. Frankly, my American and US Airways flights have been fine. The convenience of the T-concourse for flights, along with an Admirals Club staffed with helpful agents, and not packed to the gills with people, make American viable in Atlanta. Southwest has been Southwest. Basic, but friendly, and assuming I’m not sitting in Comfort+ or Main Cabin Extra, I’ll take a Southwest coach seat any day vs. the coach section of most any airline.

That’s all well and good, but I’m back to this – I live 19 minutes from the world’s busiest airport where Delta operates 900 or so flights per day. The majority of my travel is on business. The majority of my business travel is in markets where Delta offers a vastly superior schedule to the competition. Delta is frequently, but not always, very competitive on price. And I haven’t even gotten to operational reliability.

The Bottom Line

  • I value time more than miles, and as long as I live in Atlanta Delta will be my primary airline.
  • I won’t fly an airline at any price just for the sake of elite status. There are alternatives, I have lifetime Gold on American, an AAmazing upgrade percentage to/from Atlanta, and I don’t mind flying Southwest when I need to.
Delta, SkyMiles, comments,

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Where to From Here?

My loyalty experiment has come with a cost, and it is something that I value. It is highly unlikely that I will maintain Platinum Medallion for 2016. Mileage running for the sake of MQMs is not something I am willing to do unless I am very close to crossing an elite status threshold, and I remain on sabbatical from significant amounts of manufactured spending. The two things I value most about Platinum Medallion status are fee-waived award changes and redeposits and the folks that answer the phone when I call. I’ve saved hundreds this year on award changes alone, but that along with customer support are not quite enough to make me seriously consider dropping everything and earning Platinum for next year at all costs. The way I see it, I have two legitimate options –

  • Status match to Alaska Air and soak that partnership for as long as it lasts.
  • Get back on the hamster wheel come January 1, 2016, and focus spending where I can maximize my MQM take.

What’s a guy that lives in Atlanta and flies on business to do? That’s a decision I will make after October 1.

-MJ, September 5, 2015