Sharon and I have been writing on this website for a little over three years. With my newly found spare time, I was thinking about why we started writing in the first place (back then, it was just me writing posts). I wanted to share a viewpoint I felt was missing from other blogs. Looking back at those first posts, I can see how I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing. I tried copying the style of websites I liked, failing miserably in the process.
While looking at one of those posts, I was struck by how much things have changed in just the last two weeks. It was the end of February when I wrote a post based on the surveys we get after trips “Why Do Airlines Care If We Think Their Pilots Are Friendly?” Not the weightiest of topics, but it was what I had on my mind at the time as I cleaned out my inbox.
If that’s what I cared about last month, what did I feel was important enough to write about back in 2017?
Here, in all of its unedited glory, is the seventh post I ever wrote.
It’s counterintuitive to think anything except flying would earn you frequent flyer miles. I mean, you would figure if you want to earn enough miles for your dream trip, you stay loyal to one airline and get all your miles from flying with them, right? Not too long ago you actually could earn a decent amount of miles for just taking regular flights, even as an occasional traveler. However within the last 2 or 3 years, the major airlines have changed to a system that rewards you by not how far your trip is but by how much you paid for that ticket.
I’ll use our recent trip to New York on Delta and therefore the formula Delta SkyMiles uses to figure out mileage earning for flights on their planes.
A flight from Orlando to LaGuardia airport measures 950 miles, or 1900 miles round trip. The logical way to think about miles would be for flying 1900 miles flight you would earn 1900 miles. Not anymore. Delta’s new math works like this. Since I am only a “General Member,” I earn 5 miles per dollar spent on my ticket. If you fly more often, you can earn a better multiplier, maxing out at 11 miles per dollar for the highest level of Diamond Medallion members. But if you’re like me, you’re usually going to be looking for the cheapest ticket available. Since I found a great fare for this trip, I only paid $129 for the flight. Oh, I paid more for that but all of the extra fees, surcharges and taxes don’t count for mileage accrual. That means I earned a whole 645 miles. That isn’t getting me very far at all.
Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to earn airline, and in this case Delta, miles. For this stay I found an amazing offer for a room at the Waldorf=Astoria. The Waldorf=Astoria hotels are one of the 14 different brands belonging to the Hilton company. Since I am a Hilton HHonors member (and really, why they use the double H is beyond me – it’s like American AAdvantage. Why bother with the extra letter???), Hilton HHonors offers Points and Miles where you can earn airline miles for your stay on top of Hilton points. As per the Hilton Website, for Delta Skymiles you can “Earn 1 Delta mile per eligible US dollar spent at hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands (Up to 100 miles per stay at Home2 Suites).”
Just a reminder than(sp) in order to earn any of these airline or hotel miles, you need to be enrolled in the programs (click here to sign up for airlines, and here to sign up for hotels. It’s free!). This takes only a few minutes to do before your trip. If you aren’t signed up, you are not getting the points you deserve.
The next way I earned miles was a pleasant surprise. You see, I’m signed up for the SkyMiles Dining program. You provide your Delta SkyMiles number and credit card number when you enroll and then when you dine at a restaurant on the program and pay with that card, you earn miles. Here is the earning structure:
- Members earn 1 mile per $2 spent if you elect to not receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining.
- Online Members earn 3 mile per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining.
- VIP Members earn 5 mile per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining AND have 12 or more qualified dining transactions in a calendar year.
I don’t mind getting spammy type emails so I get the newsletter sent to my email and sort it to my “scan through occasionally” folder. This earns me 3 miles per dollar spent as I’ve never hit the 12 qualified transaction threshold in a year to become a VIP (only certain restaurants count – they’re all different price points, but we still don’t go to those specific restaurants often enough).
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to get an email shortly after arriving home. It turned out that the sushi restaurant near our hotel that I found on Yelp! was part of the SkyMiles dining program. Besides having a totally awesome dinner there, I earned an additional 408 Delta Skymiles ($136 dinner x 3 points per dollar). I was even happier when the next email arrived. It turned our(sp) that our favorite place to go after a show, Lillie’s, was also on the program! Woo hoo – more unexpected frequent flyer miles!
So I earned another 564 miles for dining without even trying, because these were places we were going to anyway; the miles were just a bonus. So I earned a total of 2,069 Delta SkyMiles this trip, of which only 645 were from the actual flight. Still a long way from that fancy seat, but you have to take what you can get.
I’d also like to mention that besides these bonuses, the credit card I used earned me 2 miles per dollar for travel and dining expenses. I also earned 5% back on all of our taxi and Uber rides by using my Discover card because transport is one of the bonus categories this quarter. I’ll get more into that side of earning in a later post.
Current Day Final Thoughts
So three years ago, I was complaining that Delta doesn’t give enough SkyMiles for flying on their aircraft and how it’s easier to earn miles through their dining program. Up until this year, that would still be a valid complaint.
Flash forward to today when Delta is slashing its schedule by 40% because of the decrease in demand for flights. While that’s not great for Delta and even worse for their employees, you really need to stay home right now (which means staying home, not just avoiding travel). The economic and sociological consequences of this period will be felt for a long time.
I find it funny that a quote that sticks in my head right now is, “May you live in interesting times.” I can’t remember where I heard it, but it seems fitting. I was shocked to find that many places online say that it’s a Chinese curse. Looking deeper, there’s no proof of that anywhere I can find. Sort of the same way that certain people will say the reason for our current hardships is because of the “China virus.” Truth is that the country or its people are responsible for neither.
Personally, I don’t view the quote as a curse. I see it as a challenge. Comfortable living makes us complacent, worried about how many miles we’d earn from a flight or from dinner. When staring down a global pandemic, things like that seem small, even inconsequential.
I hope that we’ll eventually get back to a place where that’s all we have to worry about again.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary