60 Seconds with Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion Member Ron Hernandez

60 Seconds with Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion Member Ron Hernandez

Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion member Ron Hernandez of New Orleans is a Training Consultant for CareFusion Neurocare. He bid more than 483,000 miles in an online auction to win the opportunity to help build houses in China with Delta and Habitat for Humanity. Hernandez and over 50 Delta employees from around the world helped build five houses in Pinghu, which is a municipality located near Shanghai. He has been a frequent flyer with Delta since 2003 and recently achieved Million Miler status.

InsideFlyer
How did you earn so many miles?
Ron Hernandez
I travel almost every week for work, crisscrossing the country. It’s pretty easy to do.

IF
Why do you choose to fly Delta?
Hernandez
When I first started traveling for work, I had frequent flyer miles scattered across almost every domestic airline program that flew out of New Orleans. Very quickly, I consolidated my miles to one airline. Delta had a lot of convenient flights out of New Orleans, and they were (and still are) the only airline to have a lounge at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

IF
Did you make any special effort to reach a million miles?
Hernandez
Not really. Early on when I had no status, I learned to pick flights on some trips that garnered the most miles, i.e. travel east to go west, or travel west to go east, just to help reach and maintain elite status. Since a majority of my flights required a connection, the miles piled up quickly. I knew that at some point this year I would hit one million mile status, so I wasn’t concerned about trying to reach it. However, after I won the SkyMiles auction, I thought it would be really cool if I could hit one million miles before my trip to China. I had a bunch of traveling jobs in the weeks leading up to the China trip, and with the last segment of my last trip before China I eked across the one million threshold.

IF
Why did you decide to bid on the SkyMiles building project?
Hernandez
I came across the Delta Habitat for Humanity auction from a post on the Delta blog website. The China trip really appealed to me. A week in Shanghai, business class travel and accommodations included, with the miles being donated to Habitat for Humanity. It was all good! The bid at the time was only 150,000 miles (which I thought was low). Out of curiosity, I checked on a business class roundtrip ticket from New Orleans to Shanghai for those dates and it was 340,000 miles! That’s when I decided to go for it. I thought it was a bargain when I won the auction, given the amount of miles just for business class travel to Shanghai. Best use of my miles EVER!

IF
What was the highlight of your trip to China?
Hernandez
I don’t know if I could pick just one, since there were so many. But I would have to say working with Habitat For Humanity and building the house. I had a glimpse of the culture and the people outside the typical tourist attractions, and that will stand out for me more than anything else.

IF
Do you have any other plans for spending your miles?
Hernandez
Currently, my next award trip is travelling with my 10-year-old son to Canton, Ohio for the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies this August. I’m also saving up some miles for the next big Delta and Habitat for Humanity trip!

IF
Do you participate in other loyalty programs?
Hernandez
I’m Diamond VIP with Hilton and Executive Elite with National, mainly because they are among the preferred vendors of the company I contract for. I like the HHonors program since they have properties all over the country and some nice promos to boost your point totals. I was Presidents Circle with Hertz before I had to switch to National due to a change in preferred vendors, but I have been pleased with National thus far. I have accounts with other programs, but they’re pretty dormant now.

IF
Can you give our readers one “road warrior” tip?
Hernandez
Take the first flight out. Flying later in the day increases the likelihood that you may be spending the night in a hotel if your flight is cancelled. Although I don’t particularly like taking early flights (as I am not a morning person), taking the first flight out has its advantages in case of IRROPS or weather delays. With airlines flying fewer flights and with those flights being full, getting rebooked on a flight that same day if your flight is cancelled can be difficult even for an elite passenger. At the very least, you may be stuck at an airport for several hours waiting to hop on another flight. Taking that first flight gives you more opportunities to get where you need to go in case of a cancellation.

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