Triangle Trip

Tag: coast to coast travel

Better use your United 500-mile upgrades in light of 2010 Mileage Plus program changes

by on Dec.02, 2009, under Airlines

United Airlines (UAL) has announced 2010 Mileage Plus program changes that will end of 500 mile certificates a few weeks ago. Starting in the second quarter (probably July) of 2010, United Premier members would get upgrades to first or business class based on availability – similar to Continental, Delta and USAir. This leaves American Airlines to be the only major carrier still requiring certificates for upgrades.

This is a positive move by UAL. However they didn’t tell you the following:

1.  United complimentary upgrades are not available for P.S. (Premium Service) flights. United P.S. are flights between New York and San Francisco and Los Angeles. This means your coast-to-coast travel cost would go up as economy seats generally fills up the fastest (see previous post regarding best coast-to-coast travel option). This forces united customers to buy business class tickets.  You can however use redeem miles to upgrade on these flights, and if you are 1K you will still receive Confirmed Regional and Systemwide Upgrades and may use them on these flights as well.

2.  Your United 500-mile certificates would be useless if you don’t use them. UAL used to convert the 500-mile certificates into miles and put them in your Mileage Plus account. With the devaluation of airline miles and airline cut backs, UAL does not endorse expiring 500 mile certificates nor do they convert the miles for flight redemption.

3.  Complimentary upgrades are limited to flights within Region 1 only, which includes the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. Also, award flights are not eligible for the complimentary upgrades. Not much different than the 500-mile certificate model.

United Premier and Premier Executive statuses become absolutely worthless.  Good luck trying to get upgraded with all the people that made Premier Exec and 1K (us included) in 2009 for 2010 thanks to the 2 double EQM (and one EQS) promotions.

Another collaboration post from Statusmonger & Captain G

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Delta adds MQM Rollover puts them above other airline programs

by on Jul.31, 2009, under Airlines

Delta introduced two major changes to the 2010 SkyMiles program: 1) Rollover Medallion Qualifying Miles (Rollover MQM) which lets you build status toward the following year; and 2) a new Medallion class: Diamond which requires you to have 125,000 MQM. We are extremely pleased to see this change as it is definitely ground breaking for the airline industry.

I have been traveling coast to coast on United and Delta for the past six months. The Rollover MQM along with the free/complementary upgrades clearly made Delta my carrier of choice for the rest of the year (see previous post regarding Delta as the best for coast to coast travel). I would be surprised if United or American follows this promotion as they have most of the corporate customers locked into corporate travel plans/accounts such as 25 to 30% discount plan.

Marriott launched their Elite Rollover Nights program in late spring and none of the major hotel chains followed. Marriott’s move to offer Elite Rollover Nights doesn’t surprise me since they require 75 actual nights to obtain Platinum status which means Elite rollover doesn’t begin until your 76th night. With 50 to 60 nights at other hotels like SPG, Hilton respectively, you’d be at their highest level.

Delta is extremely generous with its rollover plan. You can practically begin rolling over miles after making silver – or your 25,001st medallion mile. For example, if you earned 45 MQMs this year – 20,000 MQM more than the Silver Medallion requirement – the 20,000 MQMs will automatically roll over to next year’s balance. This means for 2010, you will only need to get 5,000 MQM to get Silver Medallion. This is actually a great perk as Delta didn’t devalue its mileage program with the Double/Triple MQM scam (see previous post) – I only earned 1 double MQM from all my trips.

Captain G will go on record to endorse Delta despite the fact that Delta JFK’s customer service should all be overhauled (see previous post).

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Delta is the best when flying coast-to-coast in the US

by on Jan.17, 2009, under Airlines, Business Travel

I have been commuting coast to coast for over 10 years – that’s between New York and California. I have flown out of JFK to LAX and SFO months at a time. There were only two carriers back in the 90s… now we’ve five options:

1. American
2. Delta
3. JetBlue
4. United
5. Virgin Ameirca

I have experienced all carriers and want to share my experience with everyone. Here are the plus’s and minuses for each:

1. American:

PLUSES:  Price – usually cheaper than Delta and UA. Coach seats are pretty roomy vs. the other four.

MINUSES:  The AA terminal at JFK is a zoo. Planes are older.

2. Delta

PLUSES:  Price – usually cheaper than UA. New seats inside the plane – leather. Live TV in coach. If you’re a Medallion Gold or Platinum, 80% chance to be upgraded to First.

MINUSES:  If you buy a low fare ticket, you will not get full mileage in your bank. Skyteam points are not as valuable as Star Alliance or OneWorld.

3. JetBlue

PLUSES:  Newer planes. Flights are cheap. Free live TV. Food for sale is decent.

MINUSES:  Have to fly to OAK or SJC vs. SFO. Long Beach or Burbank vs. LAX. No first class upgrades.

4. United

PLUSES:  Star Alliance points and UA offers 100% on all flights regardless of the price of tickets. JFK terminal is extremely clean. If upgraded to buniess, service is awesome – personal DVD player, plugs on all business class seats, etc.

MINUSES:  UA divided plane into 50% business, 50% coach. As a result, there are not that many seats available for sale in coach. Tickets are generally expensive.

5. Virgin Ameirca

PLUSES:  Plugs on all seats, games and TV on your seats, comfortable throughout the cabin, ticket can be pretty cheap as well.

MINUSES:  Limited flights throughout the day. Can only bank Virgin points.


In summary, you should fly Delta if you have Medallion status as you will get upgraded. Fly United if you have enough points to spend on the upgrades. Go with Jetblue if you’re cost conscious or don’t mind flying to alternative airports.

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