Chicago to Miami on Delta as a Silver Medallion
Last week, I wrote about how I was approved for Delta’s Medallion status challenge. Delta Air Lines allows SkyMiles members who were approved for the status challenge to utilize their status throughout the 90-day challenge period. I decided a few days after I was approved for my status challenge to book a cheap ticket on Delta. I wanted to see how useful the benefits of Delta Silver Medallion were. Additionally, as part of the status challenge, I’m required to fly a certain amount of miles and segments in this 90-day period in order to retain status.
After using Google Flights to search exclusively for flights on Delta, I ended up booking a one-way ticket from Chicago to Miami with a layover in Atlanta. I booked a ticket in main cabin hoping to score an upgrade. To my surprise, both legs of my flights ended up being upgraded. However, other than the upgrade, I wasn’t overly impressed by Delta’s treatment of Silver Medallions. Albeit, free upgrades to first class are fantastic and Silver Medallion is the entry-level tier. All that aside, I rarely fly Delta, doing most of my flying on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. By the end of my day trip, I was actually glad to be back home on American Airlines.
Benefits as Silver Medallion
The main reason I decided to take this trip was to test out Delta’s elite benefits. Delta’s Silver Medallion tier is an introductory level tier. I was eager to explore all of the benefits that came with Delta Silver Medallion Status. The benefits of Silver Medallion status first became apparent when I checked in for my flight. The following benefits are available to Delta Silver Medallions;
Interestingly, my upgrade was actually confirmed before the 24-hour Silver Medallion upgrade window. Roughly a day after I had booked my flights, I received a complimentary upgrade to First Class from Chicago and a complimentary upgrade to Comfort+ from Atlanta. That said, the entire first leg of my journey was uneventful with regards to utilizing my elite benefits as I had all of the benefits of a First Class passenger.
At check-in, I was once again, presented with the options to request upgrades and check bags. Since I had already been upgraded, I received SkyPriority and could only upgrade on the second leg of my journey. My boarding pass was silver indicating my elite status.
At the Airport
There was a line snaking the length of the SkyPriority lane at Chicago-O’Hare so I decided just to use a kiosk. Once I received my boarding passes, I made my way to the TSA PreCheck lane. Surprisingly, I was the only one in the PreCheck lane and managed to get through security in under five minutes. Though I’d never use the SkyPriority lane over the PreCheck lane, it’s noteworthy that Silver Medallions don’t actually get access to priority security lanes when traveling in main cabin.
American Express Platinum Card and SkyClub Access
I’m an authorized user on my family’s American Express Platinum card account. As an authorized Platinum cardholder, I receive complimentary access to Delta’s SkyClubs when I fly with Delta. With this benefit in mind, I made my way to the Chicago-O’Hare SkyClub where I checked into the lounge. I wasn’t aware of any age restrictions at the time. As I made my way to the breakfast buffet I realized that I was one of two customers in the lounge while at the same time, my name was announced over the PA.
Apparently, because I’m under 21, I shouldn’t have been granted access to that lounge because there’s self-serve alcohol. I volunteered to sit next to the check-in desk so they could see that I wasn’t drinking. I pleaded with the agent to let me grab a plate of breakfast before I head out but he insisted I leave immediately. I informed him that I showed up early to eat breakfast in the lounge so my flight wouldn’t depart for another four hours. I asked if he could switch my flight for me to which he responded, “No, I can’t do that.”
I understand when a lounge won’t let a minor in when there’s self-serve alcohol. What I don’t understand is why the SkyClub agents immediately turned against me. I thought that SkyClub agents would be able to assist with flight changes. However, it appeared that the agents we not in the mood to help.
Just like any airlines entry level elite status tier, you can’t switch flights for free or even standby without paying extra. I asked a gate agent if I could switch flights from Chicago to Atlanta to which she responded, “Yes, you can standby for $75.” I decided to pass on that offer and waited near my gate for a few hours.
The First Flight: Chicago to Atlanta
|Flight||Delta Air Lines DL1323|
|Departure||Chicago (ORD) 10:45 AM|
|Arrival||Atlanta (ATL) 1:42 PM|
To recap what I had said above, my upgrade to first class cleared before check-in and well before boarding. That meant that when boarding commenced, I’d be able to board in the Premium zone. However, this didn’t turn out to be the case as roughly sixty-percent of the entire aircraft was active duty military. Of course, the military should board before any other passengers so I can’t complain. I was astounded by how polite and welcoming one of the captains of this flight was to the active duty military. The military on this flight at recently graduated and was going to Atlanta for their first assignments. The captain, prior to boarding, went around the gate area and shook every solider’s hand and thanked their families. Additionally, the gate agent had the entire gate area give the recently graduates a round of applause. I really appreciate what airlines do for the military but the Delta team went above and beyond in this case.
Once onboard, I noticed that First Class was filling up quite quickly. Being that there are just 12 seats up in First Class, I assumed it’d go out full. Turns out I was wrong and the seat next to me, remained unoccupied. I snagged two First Class seats for the price of one seat in main cabin!
The flight from Chicago to Atlanta was so short that there wasn’t even a proper meal service. Still, snacks and drinks were served. I enjoyed a few bags of honey roasted peanuts, a bag of beef jerky, a Biscoff cookie, and a granola bar. The First Class flight attendant was super nice and professional. For such a short flight, she was always in the cabin filling up drinks and serving more snacks.
As for in-flight amenities, Delta’s Boeing 717s feature AC power and Gogo wifi. Additionally, Delta Studio was available on this flight, however, the selection of movies and shows was poor at best. Overall, the flight was fantastic for such a short hop. It was certainly a great impression of Delta as my first time flying as an elite.
The Second Flight: Atlanta to Miami
|Flight||Delta Air Lines DL2025|
|Departure||Atlanta (ATL) 4:36 PM|
|Arrival||Miami (MIA) 6:28 PM|
|Service||Drink Service, None|
I was number two in line to receive a First Class upgrade on my second flight, however, it instead went to a Diamond elite’s 5-year old son. Seconds before the agent was going to stop calling the two elites in front of me, he and his young son came running up to the gate. I liked how the dad was nice enough to let his son sit up in First Class but of course, I wished it was me up there.
The flight from Atlant to Miami was even shorter than the flight between Chicago and Atlanta. I was seated in Delta Comfort+ at a window seat. The aircraft was an MD-90 so the seating arrangement was 3-2. Of course, I selected one of the seats on the 2-seat side. To my surprise, there was a single AC power outlet shared between me and my seatmate. I managed to snag the outlet before they did, however, something tells me they didn’t really care too much about the outlet as they slept the entire flight.
I was under the impression that Delta Comfort+ passengers received better in-flight amenities like upgraded snacks and free drinks. I can’t take advantage of the free drinks but I watched the flight attendants come through the aisle with the drink cart. Not once did they remind passengers seat in Comfort+ that they could have a free cocktail. When I ordered a Coke, I wasn’t even offered the can. I can’t imagine paying more than $15 for one of these seats. The legroom wasn’t even all that. As a matter of fact, I’d go as far to say that Comfort+ was just bearable and certainly not an upgrade.
In retrospect, I wish I would have selected an exit row towards the back of the aircraft. The flight was okay but I wasn’t impressed by Delta’s Comfort+. Moreso, the flight crew wasn’t too friendly or motivated and seemed a little high strung. Comfort+ aside, it was certainly bearable for an hour and a half flight.
I wasn’t overly impressed by Delta’s treatment of elites. I get it, I’m an entry level elite. Still, I don’t remember any customer service rep, gate agent, or flight crew thanking me for being a Medallion flyer. Who knows, maybe they knew I had gotten status as a result of a status challenge! Loyalty recognition aside, the service I received was at least consistent. I appreciated the unexpected upgrade to First Class, however, I’m going to have to start taking Rene’s warnings about Comfort+ more seriously.
Would I got out of my way and pay for Delta Silver Medallion status? Certainly not. I’d even go as far to say that American’s Gold status is a notch above Delta’s Silver status. Given my experience as a Delta Silver Medallion, I have to say other than the possible First Class upgrades, there’s very little attracting me to follow through with my status challenge.
Do you have Silver Medallion status? What’s your experience as a Silver Medallion?