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Delta Makes Changes That Will Help You Earn Status More Easily

James Larounis's image
James Larounis
James Larounis's image

James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta Air Lines made some tweaks to its SkyMiles program to make it easier for flyers to achieve and maintain Medallion elite status.

Now, it’s making 1 of those changes permanent, in addition to implementing another that should make members happy.

Let’s dig into the details of these SkyMiles updates!

Award Tickets Will Continue To Count Toward Elite Status

Delta passenger enjoys Spotify
You’ll soon be able to use the miles you earn from flying towards status requirements. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Originally meant to be a temporary enhancement, Delta allowed tickets booked with SkyMiles to count toward elite status. And now, it’s making that change permanent.

Going forward, if you book an award ticket with SkyMiles on a Delta-marketed flight, it will count toward your elite-qualifying progress, whereas in the past booking an award ticket meant you wouldn’t earn any sort of miles.

In most circumstances, “Delta-marketed” applies to flights sold and operated by Delta, which means it generally doesn’t apply to award travel booked with SkyMiles on a partner airline. Still, if you have a lot of SkyMiles in your account, this can be a big win.

As a reminder, you must reach certain thresholds of flying and spending to reach Medallion status with Delta. Here’s what it takes to earn each level:

  • Silver Medallion: Fly 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and earn 3,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) or earn the MQD waiver*
  • Gold Medallion: Fly 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs and earn 6,000 MQDs or earn the MQD waiver*
  • Platinum Medallion: Fly 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs and earn 9,000 MQDs or earn the MQD waiver*
  • Diamond Medallion: Fly 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs and earn 15,000 MQDs or earn the MQD waiver*

*Delta allows flyers to earn an MQD waiver by spending $25,000 annually on a Delta co-branded credit card for Silver through Platinum Status. For Diamond, the waiver can be earned after $250,000 in spend.

Hot Tip: Read our complete guide to Delta Medallion elite status for all you need to know about the program, including how to earn it and how much it’s really worth.

There’s also a way to spend your way to elite status without actually flying. Though note that this will require more money than choosing to fly and spend simultaneously.

Mileage Earning Cap Removed

Delta Medallion members earn a bonus according to their status level and the price of the ticket, but under the airline’s old rules you could only earn a maximum of 75,000 SkyMiles per ticket, no matter which level of status you had and how much the ticket cost. This penalized flyers who purchased expensive fares that would in theory have earned more than that amount.

Now, however, Delta has removed the cap, allowing you to earn as many miles as your fare and status dictate. This will allow customers to earn more miles to use on future trips. Delta is even making this retroactive starting January 1, 2022, and will award members with any necessary miles.

Final Thoughts

It’s great to see Delta implementing customer-friendly policies. Clearly, its move to allow award tickets to earn toward elite status was popular with flyers, and now it’s a permanent fixture of the program, which will make it easier for those redeeming SkyMiles to earn or re-qualify for status. And finally, those who purchase ultra-expensive tickets will be able to earn even more miles for their flights.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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