I fly quite frequently – last year I re-met Delta‘s Gold Medallion status, and made it all the way to Platinum (go me!).

One of the perks is that I frequently get upgraded from the coach tickets I book to First/Business seats instead – for free (and free == better). I was about 23k miles away from Diamond status last year when the year ended. Delta’s rules entail rolling-over your “extra” Medallion Qualification Miles (ie those over your last milestone but less than the next one) to kick-start the next year’s earnings.

For several months last year I was traveling nearly every week from my home in Lexington to Hartford CT – which was awesome from the frequent flier standpoint: the higher up you go on the status chart the more bonus miles you also accrue to your miles balance.

The tricky thing is that MQMs are not equivalent to FFMs – the “qualification” miles are actual miles flown or 500 (whichever is greater) per segment. Whereas the “flyer” miles are those you can turn-in for free flights (and on Delta specifically, you can turn-in miles as low as 25k for free roundtrips). FFMs also come from car rentals, purchases from partners, hotel stays, etc. Last summer Marriott was running a deal whereby for every stay, in addition to the “normal” miles earned, you received a 5k mile bonus, up to a max of 60k miles. I didn’t realize the deal early enough or would’ve gotten closer to the max, but it was still a nice bonus. (BTW – Marriott is doing a triple miles bonus right now.)

When I travel for work, I like to stay at one chain if available – Marriott. They’re generally friendly, the rooms are consistent, and the hotel-provided soaps and shampoos actually work (some places they, technically, clean .. but they’re quite harsh in the process). For the last several months I have been enjoying staying at the Courtyard Marriott in Cromwell CT: I have gotten to know several of the staff, and will be somewhat disappointed to no longer be seeing them on a weekly basis. With my current project coming to an end, I’ll have to get used to a new area.

I’ve also become acquaintances with the crew at Dollar rentacar in Windsor Locks (next to Bradley airport). Jeff and Ellen have been consummate professionals, and are always extremely friendly – even to customers who are anything but. They’ve gone out of their way to be nice to myself and a couple other “regulars” because a) it’s good business, and b) we’re always friendly and smiling when we come in. Every week I reserve a compact because it’s the cheapest. Almost every week, without asking, Jeff has upgraded me (for free!) to a mid- or full-size – I even got upgraded to a mini van a couple times.

The bad part about all the travel is that my wife and I have only been married for 7.5 months – and being gone almost every week is just no fun at all. Thankfully, she’s been able to come with me a few times – but not as often as either of us would have liked.

It will be interesting to see where the next project will take me (and hopefully her!) in the upcoming weeks 🙂