For the first time since 2015, Delta Air Lines has introduced significant changes to its SkyMiles frequent flyer program, increasing the number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) that a passenger needs to spend to reach the airline’s top-tier status.
Starting next year, Delta will require its frequent flyers to spend 33 percent more MQDs to reach Gold, Platinum, or Diamond Medallion status. However, Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) and Medallion Qualification Segments (MQS) remain unaffected.
Dwight James, S.V.P. of Customer Engagement and Loyalty and CEO of Delta Vacations, believes that such changes are “a necessary step toward both preserving and improving the customer experience for our most loyal and engaged Members.”
As noted by James, the travel landscape has changed significantly since the airline last made changes to its frequent flyer program in 2015. “We are continuing to invest in the customers who invest in us, so those members experience the best of what Delta has to offer,” he adds, noting that with these changes, top-tier passengers will also get more Choice Benefits and enhanced SkyClub experiences.
To reach Delta’s lowest tier, Silver Medallion, passengers must spend at least $3,000 on plane tickets every calendar year. This requirement will not change starting in 2023.
However, to reach Gold Medallion status, passengers are requested to spend at least $8,000—a $2,000 increase over the current requirement. Likewise, Platinum Medallion, equivalent to Elite Plus status on the SkyTeam alliance, increased from $9,000 to $12,000. And lastly, the airline’s highest tier, Diamond Medallion, grew from $15,000 to $20,000 in MQD spent.
In addition to the increased MQD requirement, Delta’s frequent flyers must also hit either the MQM or MQS threshold to unlock elite status—a condition that has not changed. Likewise, the carrier will continue to offer its famous rollover program, which sends the miles a passenger could not use to hit an elite status onwards to the following year.
The new qualification chart for Delta’s top-tier status is listed below:
In addition to becoming a top-tier status member, Platinum and Diamond Medallion passengers will also get three enhanced Choice Benefits.
Platinum Medallion passengers will pick one Choice Benefit, whereas the Diamond Medallions will get to choose three plus a Platinum Medallion choice. The available benefits for the next calendar year are:
- A statement credit for a cobranded Delta American Express card: valued at $500 for Diamond Medallion and $200 for Platinum Medallion).
- Expanded status gift program: each Diamond Medallion passenger will be able to gift Gold Medallion status to two passengers.
- A Delta Vacations discount: valued at $500 for Diamond and $400 for Platinum.
- An MQD “head start” for the next calendar year: $1,000 MQD boost for Diamond Medallion; $500 MQD boost for Platinum Medallion
- A Delta travel voucher: valued at $250
- A $250 sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) contribution to help decarbonize aviation.
- The ability to use Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates during checkout through the airline’s website.
Overall, Delta’s updated policy on its frequent flyer program will translate into higher difficulties in reaching top-tier status. However, the loyal passengers who get the new spending thresholds should see more availability for upgrades, more comfort during their travels, and more targeted service.