The Trick to Flying First Class

By February 21, 2011 travel 2 Comments
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In October 2010 I did a post called General Boarding. In that post I explained what I do to save money when I travel and that I never ride first class. Oh how things have changed. As soon as I did that post I received numerous emails from other frequent fliers showing me different ways to “level up” on various carriers. This year I have been flying first class about 90% of the time, earning miles faster and actually saving money for IZEA in the process. While I still look for the lowest fares my carrier of choice is now Delta and I have gone from zero to Platinum status since October. I am going to share my dirty little travel secret with you. I have no affiliation with Delta or AMEX other than a being a loyal customer.

Medallion Qualification Segments

The key to leveling up on Delta is Medallion Qualification Segments (MQMs). You can earn traditional “Miles” in thousands of way, but MQMs are a different story. You can’t earn them from buying flowers, renting a car or eating out. You can’t buy them either. For the most part you have to travel the actual miles to earn MQMs. However, there are periodic promotions and other methods that allow you to rack up MQMs in a big way.

In November I scored 25,000 MQMs for transferring 50,000 AMEX rewards points to my Delta account. That is the difference between Silver and Gold Status. This promotion is no longer active, but I hope they bring it back in 2011. This got me way closer to my Platinum goal, but what put me over the edge was the American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card.

Earn MQMs with Delta Reserve Credit CardAMEX Delta Reserve Card

I have been an American Express customer since 1999. They are my credit card of choice for business and personal use. I love their service and was delighted when I found out that they had a special high end credit card for Delta. With this card you earn 10,000 MQMs with your first purchase and can earn an additional 30,000 MQMs if you spend $60,000 or more per year on your card – which is doable if you are using it for business expenses. In addition to the MQMs you also get some great benefits:

  • Check your first bag free (for up to nine people)
  • Access the Delta Sky Club (free booze, Internet and comfortable seats)
  • You can gift MQMs to other people
  • Annual companion certificate for a free ticket
  • Pay with miles lets you buy any ticket with miles without blackouts
  • 24 Hour Concierge

At $450 the card is not cheap and the APR of 14.5% isn’t great, but if you are a frequent flyer that pays your bills every month (and has excellent credit) this is right up your alley. I have only had the card for a month and it has already paid for itself in baggage fees alone.

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