|by Jason Steele|
I am a former Delta Medallion member as well as an Atlanta refuge. Sadly, much of my family and friends didn’t make it, and are destined to circle I-285 for eternity like Pasqcal Perez. Their only hope is the occasional escape from the city via the gargantuan Hartsfield-Jackson-Dead Mayors International Airport. Should they desire to see something more exotic than Cancun or Ft. Lauderdale, they have to take Delta, or (gasp!) be forced to change planes in a city with a smaller airport.
Sadly, flying Delta these days means no legroom, no free checked bags, and a general Greyhound-like atmosphere. The result is that they, like all Delta fliers are in a perpetual race to grab as many Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) such that they may be upgraded to first class on occasion.
Currently, there are few ways to pick up MQMs, other than enduring Delta flights. Now there is a new one. By this point in the year, it is already too late to sign up for one of the Delta Amex cards that give out MQMs.
This year, you do have one other option if you wish to make Medallion for 2010. The Atlanta based carrier is now offering MQMs for donations to three Atlanta based charities, AID Atlanta, the Grady Health Foundation or the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project.
You will receive 2,500 MQMs for a donation between $250 and $499 and 5,000 MQMs for a contribution of over $500. You can only earn MQMs once for each charity, so the most you can earn is a maximum of 15,000 MQMs from this promotion. On the face of it, you are ing miles for 10 cents each that may be worth 1-2 cents tops. If you are in a high tax bracket, say 40%, you might get enough of a tax deduction so that the actual cost is more like 6 cents per mile. Of course, none of that really matters. MQMs aren’t about redemption, they are about status. Get to the next level of status, and you will have that many more upgrades, and be that much higher on the standby list for your return flight at the end of the week.
While some may complain that Delta is making it easier to become Medallion without flying, you can’t argue with their timing of this promotion. With 30 days left to secure MQMs, it is easy to imagine many people making contributions in order to reach the next level.
So the next time you arrive at ATL and hear the pilot of your Delta flight say, “Good evening folks, it looks like our gate is currently taken, so we will just have to wait here for a while until the other aircraft pushes back.” at least you might be sitting in first class.