Delta Air Lines has announced changes to “a simpler and more rewarding SkyMiles” which will take effect beginning January 1, 2024, and impact how SkyMiles Members will earn credits toward their 2025 Status.
As anyone can imagine, these changes are not positive and in fact turn the entire program structure on its head – it’s pretty much a disaster for members who might currently find the elite status quite comfortable to achieve.
Delta SkyMiles was already not the most rewarding program, but obtaining and maintaining Elite status with SkyMiles and the fact that Delta is still one of the better airlines to fly domestically has kept many loyal customers around over the years.
This loyalty could now be tested to its limits as Delta gives members another shot across the bow with the changes that were just announced (access the SkyMiles website here).
Earning Medallion Status has never been this simple. Beginning January 1, 2024, all SkyMiles Members will earn towards their 2025 Status and beyond only through Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) with no change to how miles are earned and redeemed. Continue to enjoy benefits you love and earn MQDs how you want, when you want — with us and our partners.
Simple, maybe. But definitely not easier, especially compared to previous (current) requirements.
- SkyMiles Silver Medallion requires 6,000 MQD’s (3,000 MQD’s currently) -> 100% UP
- SkyMiles Gold Medallion requires 12,000 MQD’s (8,000 MQD’s currently) -> 50% UP
- SkyMiles Platinum Medallion requires 18,000 MQD’s (12,000 MQD’s currently) -> 50% UP
- SkyMiles Diamond Medallion requires 35,000 MQD’s (20,000 MQD’s currently) -> 75% UP
Here is a chart example of what members are expected to earn (read: spend) in 2024 for their status:
This is a massive increase and a total game-changer. Will there be customers for whom it’ll be easy to qualify for status? Sure, especially those who fly on extremely expensive tickets. You earn $1 MQD per $1* spent on the ticket price for a Delta-marketed flight operated by Delta or by one of our partner airlines.
I had one friend whose company always books last-minute tickets at sky-high prices rejoice “Oh, Diamond with three round trips” but that’s hardly going to be the representative of the majority of customers.
Those big spenders who are able to obtain Delta American Express Cards might also find it easy to obtain status:
Mind you, with the introduction of the new MQD Boost benefit, the Status Boost and MQD Waiver benefits will no longer be available as of January 1, 2024.
You can also collect MQD’s by booking services through Delta Car Rentals, Delta Hotels and Delta Vacations but of course, those purchases will count as a third-party booking with those respective companies, and you won’t be able to collect points and benefits from their own particular loyalty programs.
While you can continue to earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) throughout the rest of 2023 towards your 2024 Medallion Status, MQMs and MQM Rollover will be departing at the end of 2023. Beginning in early 2024, for the Rollover MQMs you’ve earned, we will offer a one-time conversion of your Rollover MQMs where you can select how you would like to apply them.
What’s going to be a killer for many: There won’t be any more rollover MQD’s except for the one time exception in 2024:
Rollover miles/MQD’s were a popular feature for many SkyMiles members, but I guess the rationale why Delta stopped this was because they want customers to be consistently loyal and spend money each year rather than being able to profit for many years in a row if a customer has one very travel intensive year.
But we’re not done yet.
Yes, you guessed it, the Delta SkyClubs are on the chopping block as well, and these changes are really horrible too – at least for American Express Platinum and Delta Co-Branded cardmembers (no changes for Delta SkyClub members).
As part of our ongoing journey, we are working to ensure our Clubs continue to offer the premium experience our guests expect and deserve. We will be making several updates to Club access that will go into effect in 2024 and 2025.
This means access for those with Amex cards will be restricted to a pre-set budget per year unless the cardmember meets a $75,000 spend requirement:
Members with the Co-Branded Platinum card and those Amex Cardmembers booking Basic Economy tickets will be entirely shut out from SkyClubs:
So if you currently hold a Delta SkyMiles Platinum card from Amex and lounge access is important to you, then it better consider either canceling or upgrading this card.
I’m not sure how lucrative it is to spend $75,000 on either one of the Amex cards. For heavy SkyClub users, it might be worthwhile to just buy a regular membership.
Further changes include the complimentary domestic upgrades:
We have refreshed our Complimentary Upgrade priority for 2024, which includes Million Miler Status moving up in the hierarchy for complimentary upgrades to the #3 priority position.
This is not necessarily a bad change, and Million Milers might appreciate this.
Obtaining Million Miler status will become more difficult, though:
Beginning January 1, 2024, Million Miler Status will be earned via flight miles flown. Any MQMs already earned towards Million Miler Status will remain and flight miles flown starting January 1, 2024 will be added to your total Million Miler balance.
This is identical to how American Airlines AAdvantage has handled the MM program for the past few years. In the past, they counted every single mile on the account, but that policy was eventually rescinded, making it much more difficult to rack up Million Miler balances.
These changes are very negative and tantamount to a bloodbath for most members. Yes, there will be members who are high spenders who will be able to maintain their status, but most others will drop off.
It’s no surprise that Delta will drive its program more towards revenue-based rewards, but the change will cause many to rethink their loyalty and go for the best-price offer in the aviation market.
We have advocated for a long time that loyalty status is not per see, the ultimate solution for value. If a program changes the parameters, it’s no longer a sensible business decision to concentrate all bookings with them then it’s best to become a free agent.
Will you stick with SkyMiles or drop the program and credit cards under the new structure?