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Delta Makes Skymiles “More Rewarding”

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(Note that Delta announced updates to their change to SkyMiles – read more here)

New Delta Medallion Qualificaiton Levels
New Delta Medallion Qualificaiton Levels – Courtesy of Delta

Yesterday, Delta Air Lines SVP of Customer Engagement & Loyalty, Dwight James, announced an overhaul to how Skymiles members will earn elite status in the coming qualification year beginning in January 2024. And while they’ve branded their changes as “more rewarding,” that’s an attempt to brand the changes as a net positive — which it certainly is not for most members. Frequent flyer programs have become less and less about flying, and more about making sure the respective airline squeezes more and more money out of their consumers.

That said, this change comes at a time when most Medallion members will agree that the ranks have become bloated. It’s not uncommon to find Platinum Medallion members (or Diamonds, for that matter) around 20th on a flight upgrade list with one seat remaining in first class. These changes will certainly thin the herd and possibly make getting those seat upgrades a bit more often.

The changes are outlined in the e-mail you likely received, if you’re a Skymiles member. And they’re well explained on the delta.com website. We’re working on getting our Skymiles Overview page updated and will launch that in the next couple days.

Here’s a quick overview of the changes:

Changes to Achieving Medallion Status:

  • Starting January 1, 2024, only Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) will be required for Medallion Status, eliminating the need to track miles or segments.
  • MQDs will still be earned on Delta flights.
  • New earning opportunities: MQDs can now be earned on car rentals, hotel stays booked through delta.com or Delta Vacations®, and through spending on the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, where every $10 spent gives $1 MQD. And the Skymiles Platinum card at a rate of $1 MQD per $20 of card spending.
  • Status Boost® and MQD Waivers through Delta Amex cards will end on December 31, 2023.
  • MQM’s are ending in 2024 and early on in the year Delta will offer a one-time conversion of your Rollover MQMs where you can select how you would like to apply them (MQDs, Miles, or a combo). Additionally, MQDs will never rollover — they’ll reset each calendar year.

Medallion Status Thresholds for 2025:

  • Silver: $6,000 MQDs
  • Gold: $12,000 MQDs
  • Platinum: $18,000 MQDs
  • Diamond: $35,000 MQDs

Delta Sky Club® Changes:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Members have unlimited Sky Club Access on eligible fares in 2024.
  • Starting February 1, 2025, Sky Club Access is capped at 10 visits annually, but unlimited access is available for those spending $75,000+ on their card the previous year.

Upcoming Enhancements:

  • In 2024, Platinum and Diamond Medallion Members will see new Choice Benefit options.
  • Million Milers will receive higher complimentary upgrade priority as a thank you for their loyalty to Delta. Here’s the Upgrade Priority Hierarchy that goes into place on 1/1/2024
PriorityComplimentary Upgrade Hierarchy for Medallions
1Medallion Status Level
2Fare purchased (original + paid upgrade level)
3Million Miler Status
4Delta Reserve Credit Card Membership
5Delta Corporate Travelers
6MQDs earned in the current calendar year
7Time of request
New upgrade priority factors for Delta Medallions beginning in 2024

Dwight James, SVP of Customer Engagement & Loyalty for Delta Air Lines — provides a video update of the September 2023 changes to the Skymiles Program.

Final Thoughts

After these changes go into effect — you’ll be able to earn Delta Medallion status without flying at all. The only thing that matters is your accumulation of Medallion Qualification Dollars. Maybe this is a great thing for people and businesses who don’t necessarily fly much, but have lots of expenditures. But it’s also is another step towards making it tough for casual, non-business travelers, and frequent flyers on less expensive tickets to earn elite status.

The sum of the changes is basically that Delta is making it harder to earn Medallion Status. This is disappointing for those who have clung to Medallion status through the past few years as MQDs were introduced, but probably a welcome change for those who have seen complimentary upgrades and other perks get diluted. I wouldn’t bank on upgrades being much more plentiful with Delta’s ever expanding offers of upgrades for dollars or points.

Editorial Note: Information and opinions articulated in this article are solely those of the author’s, not those of a credit card company, bank, airline or hotel chain. This article has not been reviewed or approved by or otherwise endorsed by any of these companies or organizations.

Miles Junkie covers airline miles, hotel points and credit card earning program information and travel in general with an eye towards ethical & eco-conscious exploration.

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