Delta Air Lines is implementing some major changes to its SkyMiles program. The airline is overhauling how members qualify for elite status. In making the changes, Delta will do away with requirements for Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and Segments (MQSs). Instead, SkyMiles members will qualify for Medallion elite status solely through Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs).
Customers will be able to earn MQDs through spending on flights, rental cars and hotels booked through Delta Air Lines, along with everyday spending charged to co-branded Delta credit cards.
The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2024. Delta officials say the move is designed to simplify the program.
“One of the consistent pieces of feedback is to earn status can sometimes be complicated,” says Dwight James, Delta’s senior vice president for customer engagement and loyalty. He explained customer feedback also prompted Delta to add more rewards for loyalty beyond traditional air travel.
In conjunction with the SkyMiles overhaul, Delta plans to significantly restrict access to its Sky Club airport lounges, which have been plagued by overcrowding in recent years. And company officials told NerdWallet that more changes to its elite status benefits are on the way, too.
Here’s what you need to know about the changes.
How to earn elite status with Delta in 2024
In perhaps the most significant change, Delta will tie elite status qualification more closely — indeed, solely — to spending. Starting in 2024, MQDs will be the lone measurement for how members qualify for Medallion elite status.
How to earn Medallion Qualifying Dollars
Delta members will be able to earn MQDs through a variety of avenues:
2024 Delta elite status requirements
Since MQDs are the only metric for reaching Medallion elite status, Delta will roll out new benchmarks.
Members will qualify for 2025 elite status upon reaching the following benchmarks in 2024:
Silver Medallion: 6,000 MQDs.
Gold Medallion: 12,000 MQDs.
Platinum Medallion: 18,000 MQDs.
Diamond Medallion: 35,000 MQDs.
What happens to MQMs?
Since MQMs will be going away, SkyMiles members with rollover MQMs from 2023 will have a one-time choice to convert their MQMs into redeemable miles, MQDs or a combination of both.
Million Miler Status changes
Delta is also making some changes for Million Miler Status members. Starting next year, Million Miler members will be in the number three priority position for complimentary upgrades. That means they will now get selected for upgrades over Delta SkyMiles Reserve credit cardholders and Delta corporate travelers.
Any MQMs earned toward the status will remain, and going forward, all flight miles earned will be added to customers’ Million Miler balance.
2024 Delta Sky Club access changes
Delta has tweaked its Sky Club access policies next year in an effort to stem overcrowding — an issue the company has worked to address for years.
“Visit growth has outpaced seat growth,” James acknowledged, noting Delta’s hope to preserve the “elevated experience,” especially for Delta’s most premium customers.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card members
Cardholders will receive 10 visits per program year.
Members can earn unlimited visits after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year. Once earned, unlimited visits will last through Jan. 31 of the following year.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card members
Cardholders no longer receive access to Sky Club.
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express members
Starting Feb. 1, 2025, members will receive six visits per program year.
Members can earn unlimited access after spending $75,000 in a program year. Unlimited access remains through Jan. 31 of the following year. Spend tracking begins Jan. 1, 2024.
Travelers with a basic economy ticket
What these changes mean for Delta flyers
Delta’s changes for next year represent a major overhaul for the SkyMiles program. In tying elite status qualification more closely to spending, Delta’s changes have some resemblance to American Airlines’ shift to Loyalty Points for its AAdvantage program. In theory, you could now reach Medallion status while flying sparingly.
Delta says the changes are a way to appeal to a higher number of members while continuing to emphasize its premium customers and rewarding other travel engagement with the company, which James notes is up 50% since 2018.
“This program is something that we think we have built very uniquely for all levels of membership, whether you’re a new member or Medallion,” he says.
The people affected perhaps the most negatively by the changes are the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card members, who will lose Sky Club access as part of the company’s ongoing effort to reduce overcrowding.
Meanwhile, what elite status tiers will look like in the future may change a bit, too. Company officials say they’ll announce additional and revamped elite status benefits at a later date.
(Top photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)
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